Top Picks of the 2017 Academy Awards Nominees

August Ackley

Intro: 2017 was an exceptional year for movies that explored themes of identity, societal structures, and relationships. There were comedies like “The Big Sick,” dramas like “I, Tonya,” and animated movies like “Coco,” many of which were nominated for Academy Awards such as Best Director, Best Actor and Actress, and Best Cinematography. However, at the end of the day, the Academy nominated only nine films for this year’s Best Picture award, and only one movie can secure the Best Picture award. As someone who watches the ceremony every year, it was my hope that “Get Out” would win due to its clever and original plot. However, I was very pleased when “Shape of Water” took home the award. The following recommendations are of four nominated movies that I believe equally deserved the win.


Get Out: “Get Out” has the potential to resonate with any audience. Whether you go into the theater expecting a horror movie, a comedy, or a social commentary, you will not be let down. The movie, written and directed by Jordan Peele, sets itself up to be a typical horror movie about a black man meeting his white girlfriend’s family, but turns into a dynamic story that challenges societal structures of racism and white supremacy. Because the movie combines suspense with moments of hilarity, it is an exciting and insightful adventure that transcends genre.


Shape of Water: “Shape of Water” explores the mind of a mute woman working as janitor in a government research facility holding what is perceived to be a dangerous, fish-like creature. Director Guillermo del Toro crafts a highly forbidden romance between the woman and the creature. The 1960’s Cold War backdrop of the film projects a dark mood which shadows over their innocent relationship. The end result is a unique and refreshing spin on a Beauty and the Beast type of story.


Call Me By Your Name: “Call Me By Your Name” travels a summer in Italy through the mind of Elio, a teenager in 1983. Elio strikes up a close relationship that turns serious with a young man working with his father. The experience of watching “Call Me By Your Name” is similar to how the main character experiences the summer. The movie is packed with characters swimming, eating, and biking through the beautiful Italian countryside. These long scenes reminded me of how summer vacation can feel. The setting, combined with an original Sufjan Stevens soundtrack, provides a scenic backdrop for Elio’s summer.


Dunkirk: When you picture a war-time movie, you might expect scenes of gore combined with generals planning their next move. In contrast, “Dunkirk” focuses on the soldiers, somewhat clueless and desperate to survive as they wait for aid on Dunkirk beach in France during WWII. Their desperation is palpable in the camera work.  Christopher Nolan, a director who often toys with chronology, weaves the story lines of a few British soldiers, two pilots, and the sailors from across the channel who saved their lives.