OK. Friend of mine told me it would be Call Me By Your Name for “best film” (note the scare quotes), but I think he’s wrong, though not so far as to not consider it, or The Post, tied as next most likely candidates.
I was doing some more digging for the bingo cards, and ended up seeing The Shape of Water on someone else’s dime. It isn’t anywhere near as subtle or good a movie as Pan’s labyrinth, but not only do I believe it is far more likely to get an Oscar, I’m outright predicting The Shape of Water for best film based on my SJW bingo weighted-zeitgeist method.
Up front, what it *doesn’t *have going for it is “Truth to power” – that’s pretty much Three Billboards and the Post, with the latter, like Spotlight, being very specifically about the press patting itself on the back – but that had been awarded a couple years back. The post gets a couple points for being explicitly anti republican with the dig at Nixon and Watergate at the end. Also, unlike the Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain (blech) or best-film winning Moonlight (ditto) or this year’s Call Me By Your Name, gay relationships aren’t the main point.
Art Film – sure, they’re all technically proficient, but only several of the movies have that indie vibe, which TSoW maintains despite its budget. Del Toro is an outstanding director at his best, where even the pro-commie slant of Pan’s Labyrinth couldn’t ruin that movie. Only TSoW and Call Me have that European indie film provenance. Especially with the blunt sexualization of Elisa (making a point of her lack of sexual fulfillment by showing us several times how regularly, literally like clockwork, she masturbates.
Post Modernism/hatred of the west – the opening seconds make it plain that, like The Walking Dead, we, or at least, regular western civilizational types, predominantly white and male, are the real monsters.
Anti Military – The main theme/ story of both TSoW and The Post is antimilitary and antiwar. To the extent that even though the one straight white guy that’s not an evil bastard is a communist scientist (gee…), his handlers are still deceitful backstabbers who can’t seem to figure out that if the goal is to deny the Americans knowledge of the creature, and the Americans are going to kill it anyway to vivisect it, then murdering it doesn’t do jack sh*t to stop them. Strickland, the project supervisor, is flat out evil, racist, sexist, and quotes scripture, though at least competent. His only redeeming feature is his belief in honor, and fealty going back to subordinates as well, shattered later by his boss, the general, a caricature of blustering military leadership.
Anti Christian/Conservative – I haven’t dug into The Post to see if it even acknowledges religion – whereas that was a major point in Sp**otlight, but TSoW goes out of its way to have characters be overtly religious, quote scripture, etc. – and you can guess if it was bad guys or good guys simply by me asking the question. While the theme is stronger in Three Billboards I dearly suspect there weren’t more hits on this bingo slot simply because the film was hitting so many of them.
Black Lives Matter – While black oppression by whites is the whole point of Get Out to the point of glue factory, due to the time frame TSoW is set in, repeated scenes show blacks being neglected or mistreated, refused service, plus TV clips of desegregation fights, etc. are included. Elisa’s main help in the story as co-conspirator and translator is a fellow maid/cleaner Zelda, played by Octavia Spencer (yes, who also has renown for playing a maid in The Help).
Immigration – while I think the whole BLM thing is less in the zeitgeist at the time of voting, due to the God Emperor in office, immigration is very much so. Elisa is of course hispanic.
Handicapped – Elisa is mute due to an injury that damaged her throat. this, plus her being a maid, plus a minority, is a factor in her not being further investigated for the “rescue” of the creature.
Gay Rights/Awareness – While not the main point, I think that Moonlight getting best film last year will be the biggest undercut to any chances Call Me has as a straight romance with homosexuality front and center. That said, in TSoW, Elisa’s other friend is a struggling gay artist who gets to be discriminated against by a pie shop clerk, and by his former employer.
Anticapitalism – the struggles of the artist, being asked to explicitly craft a message to better sell stuff to people, the main bad guy (“Richard” Strickland) and how he gets sold on a Caddilac (apparently for no other purpose than to have the car ruined later), the crappy pies at the pie shop, a discussion of how it’s all franchising, etc.
Sexual Boundaries – in Call Me this would be the pedo factor – because while the movie, like the book, has the boy at the center of the story be seventeen, the story beats from the Wiki article could easily have him younger without affecting other relationships in the story, if not preteen. The “but the boy came onto the older man” plot issue is the biggest one that throws a flag for me, though I’ll also admit I wouldn’t be as likely to see that as a problem if it weren’t for the spate of articles in the last few years trying to normalize pedophilia.
In TSoW we have cross-species sexual relationships between Elisa and the creature.
Grrrl Power – a number of films checked this box off, but outside of the soviet spy, the only other “good” man in the movie is gay. Zelda constantly bashes men, especially her husband – who turns out in a critical scene at the end of the movie to also be horribly misogynistic and worthless.
Rape Culture – Elisa is sexually harassed by Strickland. Strickland’s sex life with his wife is shown to be particularly sordid and loveless. Misogyny is omnipresent. Again, the only two good “men” are a communist scientist with no women in his life and a gay man. Again and again men, especially white ones but even Zelda’s black husband, are shown to be worthless bigots. While the same ground was covered by Three Billboards, that movie also got a best picture, drama at the Golden Globes, and Im not sure if already receiving such an “honor” will help or hurt that movie. That said, there are some redeemed actual men in Billboards, while TSoW consistently hates straw men of anything remotely masculine and human.
Well, there you have it. A finely crafted turd, near perfect Oscar-bait.