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“Once Upon a Time in Hol­lywood” by Quentin Tarantino 

Quentin Tarantino sub­verts the for­mulaic movie model in “One Upon A Time In Hol­lywood.” 

The aging actor Rick Dalton stumbles his way onward in his career, as Tarantino leads us though Dalton’s most per­sonal struggles. He faces what seems like his last chance and tri­umphs.

Then, in the last 45 minutes of the film, all of that falls away and the audience endures the gripping scene of the Manson murder. We are thrown into the per­spective of societal misfits and engage with a drugged-out us versus them battle.

Con­sid­ering this year’s nom­i­na­tions for Best Picture, “Once Upon a Time’s” curious blend of period drama, thriller, and his­torical doc­u­mentary def­i­nitely stands out from the pack.

“Joker” is a joke, should not win Best Picture by Regan Meyer 

Whether “Joker” is better than any of the other Best Picture nom­inees is a moot point. Even if it was loads better than its nom­i­nated coun­ter­parts, the film as a whole should not be winning any awards with the word “best” in the title. Yes, Joaquin Phoenix delivers an astounding per­for­mance. Yes, the music per­fectly cap­tures the uneasiness and insanity of the film. No number of incredible per­for­mances or well-orches­trated scores, however, can save a motion picture with a plot as unin­ter­esting and uno­riginal as “Joker.” The story is forced, the political state­ments ambiguous, and the explo­ration of mental health nowhere near as rev­o­lu­tionary as it was pro­jected to be. “Joker,” as a whole entity, fell flat in too many ways to be an Oscar con­tender let alone win.

“1917” by Abby Liebing 

The Best Motion Picture Oscar should go to “1917” a cin­e­mat­i­cally ground­breaking film that immersed audi­ences in the horrors of World War I like never before. Filmed to give the appearance of one con­tinuous shot, director Sam Mendes cap­tured the nuance and atmos­phere of World War I in a beau­ti­fully unbroken nar­rative of bravery and human nature. “1917” did not just tell a mere story, but put the viewers in the trenches, making it feel as if you were another soldier on the mission with Schofield (MacKay) and Blake (Chapman). The film’s ability to com­pletely immerse the audience, to the point of evoking a vis­ceral reaction, in a real time story with human heroes makes it cinema history and deserving of the Oscar. 

“Little Women” by Rachel Kookogey

Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” is suc­cessful because it stays true to Louisa May Alcott’s classic lit­erary work by high­lighting ele­ments of the work not covered in pre­vious ren­di­tions. By tying in shots and cos­tumes similar to those in the 1994 version of Little Women with Winona Ryder and Christian Bale, Gerwig acknowl­edges our attachment to that older ren­dition. Not only does Gerwig recreate the work with scenes and dialog directly from the novel, but she puts more emphasis on the mat­u­ration of the March girls and sur­rounding char­acters by placing the movie in the per­spective of an older Jo March when she writes her own “Little Women.” We iden­tified with Winona Ryder’s Jo and Christian Bale’s Laurie when we were children, but now we’ve grown up and get to see the bit­ter­sweet ending of Alcott’s novel as the only fitting con­clusion.