Will you be tuning in to the Academy Awards broadcast this Sunday? With the awards show coming up, we wanted to take a closer look at some of the most critically-acclaimed and highly-nominated films from 2017. From an independent foreign film to a sociopolitical horror mystery, we analyzed the top films from this past year and discussed what we think were the best scenes in each film.
SPOILER ALERT: The following reviews contain some spoilers for the films: The Shape of Water, Dunkirk, Lady Bird, Get Out, Darkest Hour, and Call Me By Your Name.
The Shape of Water
As one of the most distinctive films of the year, Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy drama film “The Shape of Water”, plays on the filmmaker’s fantastical filmmaking style. The film highlights the love story between a lonely, mute janitor and an amphibious creature that is being held captive in a secret, 1960s research facility.
This film’s top scene occurs as the heroine of the film, Elisa, dreams up a dance sequence between her and the creature. Toro uses this scene to pay homage to the “Old Hollywood” style of elaborate dance numbers, and this becomes apparent through the black-and-white style and Busby Berkeley-esque musical number. In her dreams, Elisa is finally provided with a robust singing voice and Toro paints the metaphor that movies give her the ability to express what she otherwise cannot. While certainly different than the other Oscar contenders, “The Shape of Water” is the newest del Toro fantasy to grace the big screen.
Set in WWII, “Dunkirk” brings together young soldiers from Belgium, Great Britain, and France as they must fight for their lives and escape the opposing German army. Directed by Christopher Nolan, this film is nominated for an incredible 8 Academy Awards, including Best Feature, Best Achievement in Directing, and Best Achievement in Cinematography.
While it’s difficult to pick a singular ‘scene’ from Nolan’s “Dunkirk” that stood out among the rest of the powerful moments and skillfully-captured shots, there is one scene that occurs within the last 15 minutes of the movie that we wanted to highlight. After Tom Hardy’s character, Farrier, spends half an hour flying through the air on the lookout for German planes, his own plane runs out of gas and he drifts over the beaches of Dunkirk. Farrier looks down at the horrors of war, and for one silent moment, he takes in the scene that brings a new understanding to the chaos of war. This peaceful moment allows both the audience and the character to break from the non-stop action of the film and it’s one of Nolan’s most striking moments in this critically-acclaimed biopic.
Nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and 3 other top honors, “Lady Bird” is one of this year’s most talked about films. Add that to the fact that “Lady Bird” is director Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, and it becomes infinitely more impressive. The film is packed with universal themes that almost all can relate to — the themes of first love, heartbreak, and the innate complexities of mother-daughter relationships. The latter is one of the most important aspects of the film, as proven by the beginning and ending scenes. In the opening scene, Lady Bird bickers with her mother, Marianne, about the possibility of her attending an out-of-state school. While the scene ends in a hilarious, gasp-inducing way, the scene we want to highlight for this film occurs in the middle of the film.
Lady Bird and Marianne shop for a nice Thanksgiving Dinner dress at their local thrift shop, and from the start, they’re bickering incessantly. Marianne stops to say hi to a friend, and her cold demeanor quickly transitions into one that is overly warm and inviting, only to become immediately cold again once she turns back to talk to Lady Bird. Gerwig perfectly encapsulates a typical mother-daughter relationship with Lady Bird and Marianne arguing one minute to fawning over the perfect dress the next. We love this scene for its honest depiction of familial relationships, and while there are countless great scenes in the film, this is one of our favorites.
Even though it was released almost a year ago, “Get Out” is nominated for four Academy Awards, making it one of the most successful films of 2017 in the box office and in the awards show circuit. The film is not only a commentary on the racial climate in the U.S. but on the representation of African Americans in Hollywood, specifically within the horror genre. Artfully shot and beautifully written, director Jordan Peele used one of the film’s scenes, The Sunken Place, to create a striking metaphor for the minimization African Americans encounter daily in society.
We chose to highlight The Sunken Place as the film’s best scene for its gradual increase in tension and noteworthy storytelling. The scene begins with a wide shot of Daniel Kaluuya’s character Chris and his girlfriend’s mother, Missy, and as the tension heightens, the shots become tighter and tighter on the characters until only their faces remain in frame. A large part of what makes this scene so striking is Daniel Kaluuya’s ability to act almost solely with his eyes. His character says very little, but his eyes speak volumes as he struggles to fight against the hypnotic effect of Missy.
Directed by Joe Wright, “Darkest Hour” is a unique biopic that portrays Winston Churchill during the first month of his reign as Great Britain’s Prime Minister, as he tackles the decision between making a peace deal with Nazi Germany or fighting for the liberty of his country. While the focus of the film is on the outside events taking place at the beginning of WWII, Wright intertwines the external conflicts with the internal conflict Churchill faces daily.
This is especially portrayed in the scene which Churchill faces Great Britain and delivers his first of many propaganda speeches. The speech is meant to inspire hope in the people of Great Britain, but even Churchill knows that what he says is a lie, and he walks home alone that night, dispirited and ashamed. Wright distinctly dichotomizes the man Churchill portrays to the world and the one he becomes when he’s alone and humiliated, and this dichotomy makes for one of the most powerful scenes in the film.
Call Me By Your Name
As the only foreign film to have earned the top honor as a “Best Picture” nominee this year, “Call Me By Your Name” is not only a beautiful story about two LGBTQ men, it stands as one of this year’s best love stories. While the scene between the main character, Elio, and his father comes in as a close second for the best scene in the movie, we wanted to highlight the final scene in the film for Timothee Chalamet’s incredibly raw performance and Luca Guadagnino’s bold decision to end the film this way.
Guadagnino sets up the final scene with Elio receiving a long-awaited phone call from Oliver, who breaks the heart-wrenching news that he is engaged. The pain is immediately noticeable in Elio’s eyes, and Guadagnino follows Elio through the house as he processes this information. As Elio finally settles down in front of the fire, his emotions become too overwhelming to avoid, and the tears silently stream down his face, the fire as the only light illuminating his tear-stricken face. As the credits start to roll, Guadagnino does not shy away from the painful look in Elio’s eye, and this scene is undoubtedly both one of the most beautiful in the entire movie and one of the most difficult to watch.
While there are many other deserving nominees, these six films are among the top contenders for multiple Academy Awards. We know we’ll be tuning in Sunday to see who takes home the most Oscars, but until then, comment below which movie you think will take home the coveted “Best Motion Picture” award! And visit our blog to stay up-to-date with other filmmaking and business video tips and news!