A Circuitous Route to Best Picture, 2018 Edition

I apologize profusely that I only update the blog right before the Academy Award winners are announced every year. As I mentioned last time, I am in the thick of an intense teacher preparation program. Quick update: Now I am a public school teacher in Baltimore. Still, all evidence to the contrary, my love for film has not abated. I hope to publish more essays this summer, when I finally have the time, but until then, I must leave you with the following: A Circuitous Route to Best Picture, 2018 Edition.

A refresher on the rules I set down for myself, as this is really just a mental exercise in connecting the Oscars’ top films of the year: I do not consult IMDb for help. I only use actors to connect the films–no other film practitioners allowed! The actors must have starred in a film together; I cannot use their romantic or familial relationships or TV roles to make the connections. Also, I cannot repeat movies or names, as many actors, just as in years past, have starred in more than one (or even two!) Best Picture nominees. Michael Stuhlbarg is this year’s MVP in that regard.

Let’s dig right in:

Phantom Thread
Alma, Reynolds, and Cyril tuck in. Image courtesy of Focus Features.
  • Phantom Thread with Vicky Krieps, who’s in Hanna with Saoirse Ronan, who’s in
  • Lady Bird with Timothée Chalamet, who’s in
  • Call Me By Your Name with Michael Stuhlbarg, who’s in
  • The Shape of Water with Octavia Spencer, who’s in Fruitvale Station with Michael B. Jordan, who’s in Black Panther with Daniel Kaluuya, who’s in
  • Get Out with Caleb Landry Jones, who’s in
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri with Lucas Hedges, who’s in Manchester by the Sea with Michelle Williams, who’s in Venom with Tom Hardy, who’s in
  • Dunkirk with Mark Rylance, who’s in Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks, who’s in
  • The Post with Meryl Streep, who’s in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again with Lily James, who’s in
  • Darkest Hour with Gary Oldman, who’s in A Christmas Carol with Lesley Manville, who’s in
  • Phantom Thread
Darkest Hour
Churchill finds Dunkirk on a map. Image courtesy of Focus Features.

There are many ways that one can do this. This is merely the first path I took. Here are some slight variations that I could conjure off the top of my head:

  • The Shape of Water with Octavia Spencer, who’s in Fruitvale Station with Michael B. Jordan, who’s in Black Panther with Daniel Kaluuya, who’s in
  • Get Out with Bradley Whitford, who’s in
  • The Post with Tom Hanks, who’s in Bridge of Spies with Mark Rylance

Caleb Landry Jones’s starring in Get Out and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri effectively made it pointless to connect the two films via that weirdo indie classic known as Box of Moonlight. If he hadn’t mucked everything up, I’d have connected the two films thusly:

  • Get Out with Catherine Keener, who’s in Box of Moonlight with Sam Rockwell, who’s in
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

And if I’d chosen Armie Hammer rather than Michael Stuhlbarg to represent Call Me By Your Name, I could have done this:

  • Call Me By Your Name with Armie Hammer, who’s in Free Fire with Cillian Murphy, who’s in
  • Dunkirk

I could go on, but I have some lessons to plan for the week ahead. What connections would you make in this completely ridiculous but fun exercise?

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