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My Favorite Moments in the Best Picture Nominees: Phantom Thread

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 next nominee is Phantom Thread.

5. The Cinematography

I could just say “Paul Thomas Anderson” for this entire entry. The directing, the writing, the look of the entire film — all him. HE SHOT IT HIMSELF!! Robert Elswit was busy (on either Roman J. Israel or Suburbicon) and PTA decided to just shoot the damn thing himself. And it looks incredible. Honestly the best looking film I saw this year (apologies to Hoyte and Deakins). It’ll be a constant refrain with this movie… I’m in awe of how it exists and how it’s as good as it is. The whole thing is just stunning.

4. The humor

I saw this movie three times in theaters. By the third time, I was doubled over in my chair, laughing at half the movie. It’s such a funny movie, and you might not necessarily pick up on that the first time you see it. But man, is this funny. And I love that the undercurrent of humor is there. There are moments in this movie that just rip through you (the way Cyril would rip through Reynolds if he came at her) because they’re just so funny. (“Take the fucking dress off, Barbara!”) This movie is many things, and a comedy is most certainly one of the main ones.

I felt like getting more specific would be too similar to my next entry, so I decided to put an image of the dressmaking scene at the beginning here, since, while it’s not particularly funny (though it has its funny moments), I do like how the seduction scene in this movie is him making a dress for her, which is not only riveting and utterly erotic, but also a brilliant piece of writing

3. Fussy Daniel Day-Lewis

Oh my god, how amazing is he in this movie? Every little thing upsets him, and I live for it. “I simply have no time for confrontation.” “The tea is going, but the interruption is staying right here.” “Were you sent here to kill me? Are you a spy? Do you have a gun? Show me your gun. I wanna see your gun.” Or the moment they’re on the honeymoon and she deliberately is loud buttering her toast and he has that look of, “Oh fuck, what did I get myself into?” It’s so perfect. I love every single moment of it. The more of an asshole his character is, the better the movie is.

2. “Kiss me, my girl, before I’m sick.”

To quote Tyler Perry in Gone Girl, “You two are the most fucked up people I’ve ever met.” I love this moment. Because it starts completely like Hitchcock. You have the moment of, “Oh shit, she’s gonna fucking kill him,” and then the movie drags it out. You wait like ten minutes, it feels like, just seeing this whole scene unfold, before he takes a bite of the omelet. And then the reveal that he not only knows that she’s doing this, but is all for it — it’s both horrifying, amazing, and just so funny at the same time. Here’s a guy who is willingly letting his wife poison him so she can nurse him back to health, and both of them see this as something that’s helping their marriage! That final line of the film — “I’m getting hungry” — is so perfect. I cannot say enough great things about this scene. This scene and this film should go down as one of the greatest achievements of all time.

1. HOW?

I don’t know how he pulled this off. It’s a movie about dressmaking. And it’s so engaging! Of course, it’s about so much more than dressmaking. Which is also why I love it. Here’s a movie about artists and creative types and the creative process, and how people in these types of situations (it’s hard not to draw comparisons to actors and directors) become so insulated in their own little worlds and become so out of touch with the real world (having his day ruined by loud chewing, for example), and how, once he’s delivered his work, he feels empty and depressed, until the work comes back. I can go on forever about all the complexities about this story, and yet — it’s about a dressmaker and a woman he falls in love with. I love that I was so riveted by every aspect of this movie, and how so many people I showed it to were as well. This movie is a masterpiece.

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