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My Pick for Best Picture Won’t Win, and Here’s Why

I love the Oscars. I mean, like, I love the Oscars.

For me, the Oscars are my birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve all wrapped up into one. After watching the entirety of the 2013 Academy Awards, in which Argo won Best Picture (do not get me started on Ben Affleck), I decided that I needed to watch all the nominated films. And now, each year, that’s what I do.

I don’t do the whole betting process with friends (although Lauren Forster has some solid tips and tricks for predicting). I watch the movies alone in my bedroom with some good snacks. I need to be fully unbothered while I watch the Academy Awards. It’s a thing. I do, however, always make my personal pick for Best Picture.

This year, it was a hard pick. I cried throughout Lady Bird. I thought Three Billboards was star-studded and beautifully written. I was fully and completely satisfied by Get Out. I didn’t like the whole fish-man-sex thing, but I did crave some hard-boiled eggs when I watched The Shape of Water. I was stunned by the cinematics of Dunkirk. I fell asleep during Darkest Hour—and I never fall asleep during movies. I thought The Post was Spotlight but shittier. I felt left out when I watched Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson fans—I’m SORRY!). But one film stood out to me.

If I was The Academy, my pick for Best Picture would be Call Me By Your Name.

Directed by Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name is a coming-of-age story that takes place in 1983 Italy, in which seventeen-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) falls in love with a twenty-four-year-old American named Oliver (Armie Hammer).

This. Film. Is. Beautiful. I cannot stress that enough. What makes this movie stand out to me is its cinematics. Although Dunkirk is a visual masterpiece, Call Me By Your Name is bright, summery, and warm in a way that none of the other films nominated this year are. The colours, man, they’re breathtaking. Even though I watched it on my computer (I suck, I know), please watch this movie in theatres. If it was stunning on my shitty laptop, I can only imagine how gorgeous it is on film.

Similarly, the music is utterly dreamy. If you don’t watch the film, listen to the soundtrack. It is the musical embodiment of summer. I’m also a sucker for Sufjan Stevens, who has three songs in the film, two of which were written specifically for Call Me By Your Name.

Initially, I was skeptical of the film. I heard great things, but I didn’t necessarily understand the Chalamet hype after watching Lady Bird. But both of these coming-of-age films produced a certain sad, longing relatability in me. After watching Call Me By Your Name, I was as convinced by the character of Elio as I was with Lady Bird. I connected with both Elio and Lady Bird on different levels: I felt like Lady Bird when I transitioned to university, away from my mother. But I felt like Elio when I thought I fell in love for the first time.

That’s why I read the film as a cautionary tale, especially with its overwhelming themes of Greek pederasty. Although Elio makes that transition from boy to man, Guadagnino seems to warn his audience with the film. We all, at some point or another, “come of age”—in life and in love—but it may not be what we expect. I love the film for the way it does this; I don’t think anyone even mentions the word “gay” in the film. It says so much without saying anything at all.

Now, I don’t think Call Me By Your Name will win. The Oscars seemingly switch between arthouse and based-on-a-true-story movies every year, and considering an LGBT movie won last year, I wouldn’t expect the mainly white and old Academy to celebrate a queer film two years in a row. Although I wish they would.

Tune into the 90th Academy Awards on March 4 at 8:30 PM EST.

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Shauna Ruby Valchuk is HCW's 2019-20 Editor-in-Chief. She's in her fifth year studying Creative Writing, English, Language and Literature. Currently, she is working on her creative non-fiction thesis. She writes in her off days and publishes it on her on days and hopes to one day make money doing the stuff she loves surrounded by as many cats as legally allowed. 
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