Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast
New Releases and Oscar Candidates For the Week of 2/02/18

Winchester (R)
Starring: Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, Sarah Snook, Angus Sampson, Finn Scicluna-O’Prey
Directed by: Michael and Peter Spierig
Let’s say you had a great story about a woman haunted by the countless deaths caused by her family’s Winchester repeating rifles who believes that the only way to stay alive is to tirelessly keep building additions to her San Jose house. Then let’s say the house, with it’s stairways and doors to nowhere, exists as a museum. Then, you cast triple crown (Oscar, Emmy and Tony) winner Dame Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester. What would you do. In all probability it would be the exact opposite of the choices the filmmakers did on Winchester. The film may not steal the “worst ever” label from Tommy Wiseau’s The Room or Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space—but it’s a close call.
Unavailable for screenings by critics

This time of year, film studios hold over and even re-release movies earning Oscar nominations. Here’s an annotated alphabetical listing of those appearing on screens near you with the asterisk (*) indicating Oscar nods:

The Shape of Water*—Guillermo del Toro** writes and directs an adult fairy tale about a woman (Sally Hawkins*) who falls in love with (and then makes love too) an amphibian who looks like the Creature From the Black Lagoon and helps him escape captivity with the help of her gay neighbor (Richard Jenkins*) and her coworker (Octavia Spencer*). This film garnered 13 Oscar nominations

Call Me By Your Name*—James Ivory’s* screenplay and Luca Guadagnino’s direction artfully evoke the steamy undercurrents that pluck all five senses in this coming-of-age tale of bisexuality starring Timothee Chalamet*.

Darkest Hour*—Gary Oldman* gives an Oscar-worthy performance playing Winston Churchill in the harrowing weeks leading up to WWII’s evacuation at Dunkirk.

Lady Bird*—Greta Gerwig** writes and directs using her own experiences growing up in Sacramento with Saoirse Ronan* astounding as the high school senior and Laurie Metcalf exceptional as the mother.

Phantom Thread*—Paul Thomas Anderson* directs Daniel Day-Lewis* as the fastidiously self-centered individual who designs dresses for “the Royals,” and recruits a plain, working-class girl (Lesley Manville*) to be the centerpiece model for his latest collection.

The Post*—Steven Spielberg directs this docudrama about the Pentagon Papers and Freedom of the Press, with Meryl Streeep* playing newspaper heiress Kay Graham who, with her title and prestige, frequently finds herself “the only woman in the room,” Watch with delight when the decision to “run” excepts from the top secret papers comes down to a “yes or no choice” that only Graham can make.

Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri*—The billboards in the title are being used by a distraught mother (Frances McDormand*) who is P-O’d that the local police chief (Woody Harrelson*) has done nothing to solve her daughter’s rape, murder and incineration. Turns out the Chief is so obsessed with his impending death from cancer, he’s let his bigoted, mamma’s boy protégé (Sam Rockwell*) take over the case.

NOTE: Jordan Peel’s Get Out* starring Daniel Kaluuya and Christopoher Nolan’s Dunkirk* are also Best Picture nominees, but are not currently in local theaters.

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