My Favorite Moments in the Best Picture Nominees: Call Me By Your Name
This has become an annual tradition the day before the Oscars. In order move away all the subjectivity and negativity that happens when figuring out what should win and what’s going to win, I use the day before the ceremony to get away from all of that stuff and celebrate the films that are nominated for Best Picture.
We take this day to look at them as masterworks of cinema and not as films competing for a trophy. All of that other stuff — the analysis, the opinions — that’s all done with. Today, we take a minute, we stop, and we appreciate the films themselves. I count down my five favorite moments (or elements) of each of them.
When you take away all the awards, all the competition, and all the arbitrary decisions about what film is better than the others, what we’re left with is great cinema. That’s what we’re celebrating.
Our first nominee is Call Me By Your Name.
5. Any scene of Armie Hammer dancing
Sometimes it’s the simple things you like the best, and there are like three moments where Armie Hammer dances in this movie, and each one of them is absolutely perfect.
Don’t even try to tell me that doesn’t make you happy.
4. That final shot
Not a lot of films try to pull this trick. Usually, when they do, it’s relevant, and it works. The last film I remember going there was Michael Clayton, with Clooney sitting in the back of the cab, thinking about what he’s done and what the hell to do now… it’s basically an extended ‘Graduate’ shot, only one that lasts over the credits. Here, they extend it throughout the entirety of the credits, and it’s the most powerful shot in the entire film. If you didn’t already think Timothee Chalamet delivers an incredible performance before this moment, this one seals it. It’s absolutely perfect, as it shows this kid processing everything he’s just found out on the phone, and allowing himself to feel the proper emotions toward it (more on that later). Is there a more arresting and emotional shot from 2017?
3. We’ve All Been There
I love this moment. Him and her having sex, and it’s clumsy and awkward, and he finishes early and is like, “Oh, I’m so sorry… are you mad at me?” And she’s laughing the whole time. Who hasn’t been there?
But seriously, the unsentimentality of the sex in this film is quite good. The scene where Armie Hammer stops and just blows him happens, and that’s it. It’s not turned into some well-lit, well-choreographed sex scene. The sex in this movie is unspectacular and real. And that’s what I love.
I know some people see the age difference in the film as problematic, but I see these scenes and I think — love is love. Good for them for just showing something that happens. Sometimes that’s what it is. Speaking of which…
2. The peach scene
Or more appropriately, the aftermath of the peach scene. I know a lot was made of that moment (and how much more happens in the book), but to me, the real power of the scene is when Armie’s about to eat the peach and Chalamet suddenly starts crying out of nowhere. The minute he starts crying, the scene feels so real. It’s not some embellished dramatic moment. It’s over so quickly. He starts crying, falls into Armie’s chest, and then immediately sits up and wipes his face, feeling so embarrassed, asking Armie to leave because he doesn’t want to see him in this moment of weakness. THAT’S real life. Real life isn’t crying and having a big emotional moment. It’s starting to cry and then either immediately leaving or immediately feeling bad and not wanting to be around the other person to have them see you like that.
The power of this movie is that it grounds everything in such reality that everything feels completely real to the point where, even if this is not your subject matter, you can either completely see how it could happen or you could become invested in it because it feels like something any of us could do. (I’m not talking about the gay stuff, you homophobes, I’m talking about any aspect of life and relationships and intimacy with other people. Don’t be an insensitive monster. Beautiful is beautiful.)
1. Stuhlbarg’s monologue
This is the single greatest scene of 2017. I liked the movie a lot up until this moment, but seeing this scene really elevated the film to another level for me. I’m still in awe of this moment. I honestly have nothing to say here and cannot illuminate the scene any more than the actual dialogue can, so I’m just gonna leave the dialogue right here for all of you, because it’s the best piece of writing of the year:
“You two had a nice friendship.”
“You’re too smart not to know how rare, how special what you two had was.”
“Oliver was Oliver.”
“Parce que c’était lui, parce que c’était moi.”
“Oliver may be very intelligent, but…”
“He was more than intelligent. What you two had, had everything and nothing to do with intelligence. He was good. You were both lucky to have found each other because you, too, are good.”
“I think he was better than — I think he was better than me.”
“I’m sure he’d say the same thing about you.”
“Yeah. He’d say the same thing.”
“It flatters you both. And when you least expect it, nature has cunning ways of finding our weakest spot. Just remember I’m here. Right now, you may not wanna feel anything, maybe you never wanted to feel anything. And maybe it’s not to me you’ll want to speak about these things, but feel something you obviously did. Look, you had a beautiful friendship. Maybe more than a friendship. And I envy you. In my place, most parents would hope the whole thing goes away. Pray their sons land on their feet. But I am not such a parent. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster that we go bankrupt by the age of 30, and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to make yourself feel nothing, so as not to feel anything, what a waste. Have I spoken out of turn? And I’ll say one more thing. It’ll clear the air. I may have come close, but I never had what you two have. Something always held me back, or stood in the way. How you live your life is your business. Just remember, our hears and our bodies are given to us only once, and before you know it, your heart’s worn out, and as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it. Right now, there’s sorrow, pain. Don’t kill it, and with it the joy you felt.”
“Does Mom know?”
“I don’t think she does.”
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