This time of year, film studios often hold over and even re-release movies that have earned Oscar nomina-tions. Here’s an annotated alphabetical listing of those appearing on screens in Sonoma County, with the asterisk (*) indicating Oscar nods, including performances. The Academy Awards will take place Sunday, March 4. Beginning at 5:30 p.m. This means you have a little less than a month to get caught up before awards night.
‘CALL ME BY YOUR NAME’*
James Ivory’s* screenplay and Luca Guadagnino’s direction artfully evoke the steamy undercurrents that pluck all five senses in this coming-of-age tale of bisexuality starring Timothee Chalamet.*
‘THE DARKEST HOUR’*
Gary Oldman* gives an Oscar-worthy performance playing Winston Churchill in the harrowing weeks leading up to WWII’s evacuation at Dunkirk.
Greta Gerwig** writes and directs using her own experiences growing up in Sacramento, with Saoirse Ro-nan* astounding as the high school senior, and Laurie Metcalf exceptional as the mother.
Paul Thomas Anderson* directs Daniel Day-Lewis* as the fastidiously self-centered individual who designs dresses for rich clients he calls “The Royals” (and some them actually are), and recruits a plain, working-class girl (Lesley Manville*) to be the centerpiece model for his latest collection.
Steven Spielberg directs this docudrama about the Pentagon Papers and freedom of the press, with Meryl Streeep* as newspaper heiress Kay Graham, who, with her title and prestige, frequently finds herself “the only woman in the room.” Watch with delight when the decision to “run” excerpts from the top secret docu-ments comes down to a “yes or no choice” that only Graham can make.
‘THE SHAPE OF WATER’*
Guillermo del Toro** writes and directs an adult fairy tale about a woman (Sally Hawkins*) who falls in love with (and then makes love to) an amphibian who looks like the Creature From the Black Lagoon, and then helps him escape captivity with the help of her gay neighbor (Richard Jenkins*) and her coworker (Octavia Spencer*). This film garnered 13 Oscar nominations.
‘THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI’*
The billboards in the title are being used by a distraught mother (Frances McDormand*) who is P-O’d that the local police chief (Woody Harrelson*) has done nothing to solve her daughter’s rape, murder and incin-eration. Turns out the Chief is so obsessed with his impending death from cancer, he’s let his bigoted, mamma’s boy protégé (Sam Rockwell*) take over the case.
As for other Academy Award nominees, Jordan Peel’s ‘Get Out’* starring Daniel Kaluuya and Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’* are also Best Picture candidates, but are not currently in local theaters. WINCHESTER (R)
Starring: Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, Sarah Snook, Angus Sampson, Finn Scicluna-O’Prey
Directed by: Michael and Peter Spierig
Let’s say you had a great story about a woman haunted by the countless deaths caused by her late husband’s Winchester repeating rifles, and how she comes to believe that the only way to stay alive is to tirelessly keep building additions to her San Jose house. Then let’s say the house, with its stairways and doors to nowhere, exists today as a museum. Then, you cast Triple Crown (Oscar, Emmy and Tony) winner Dame Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester. What would you do? In all probability it would be the exact opposite of the choices made by the filmmakers of Winchester. This film was not released to critics, but I did get to watch what the studios call an “extended preview.” Based on that, it’s clear that while film may not steal the “worst ever” label from Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” or Ed Wood’s “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” it’s a close call.