We haven't seen all the Oscar nominated movies this year.
But we have seen a god many of them.
Here's our very quick rundown on what to see and what not to see among the contenders:
1) Once Upon A Time in Hollywood
We're not big Quentin Tarantino fans but we've got admit this is his most disciplined movie yet -- all about Hollywood in the era of free love, drugs, flower power and hippies. It was a time that not only upended the motion picture industry and sent tremors through the whole country (they didn't call it a "youth quake" for nothing) but it also sent waves of fear and loathing through tinseltown. The performances by Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are first rate and Pitt should grab a well-deserved Oscar for his depiction of a best bud in this appealing bromance. And if you think you know how this one ends, wow are you in for a surprise!
2) The Irishman
This long, laborious, imitative faux saga about beat up old gangsters is truly painful to watch. What's the point of even mentioning the cast members and the director? You know who they are, you know their body of work and you've seen them (and this) all before. There's nothing new here. It's fitting that this largely episodic story begins in an old age home. And trust us, it's all downhill from there. Skip it.
3) Knives Out
An all-star lineup in the best damned whodunnit we've seen in years. It's a tour de force for the ensemble cast and though it moves along like a fine instrument, you'd better hold on tight for all the twists and turns in this intricate though nonetheless compelling plot. It's like Agatha Christie on steroids and updated for the 21st century. It's pure entertainment and rollicking good fun -- something you'll be talking about long after it's over. Hooray!
4) Jo Jo Rabbitt
If you want jokes about Hitler rewatch The Producers. We walked out on this one after about half an hour. A senseless stinker!
5) Richard Jewell
It did garner a nomination for Kathy Bates which is very well deserved. But it should have been nominated in many more categories. This story about the wrongly-accused suspect in the Atlanta Olympics bombing will make you think not just about what happened then but what's happening right now. The knowing had of director Clint Eastwood and a stellar cast make this a must see!
For our money, this is the Best Picture of the Year. Sam Mendes' thrilling direction (in what comes across as one continuous take) will leave you breathless. Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Madden and Colin Firth are all extraordinary in a tight, graphic, mesmerizing film that demands your attention. Hey, we're not even big fans "war movies" but this one is unquestionably in a class by itself. Don't miss it!
Renee Zellweger gives the best performance of the year as Judy Garland in her final days. Zellweger nails it, depicting all that Judy was: funny, dismissive, endearing, lonely, reckless, engaging, quixotic, demanding, manic, mistreated and damaged but always brilliantly (almost frighteningly) talented no matter what. This is the year's safest Oscar bet: Zellweger to win!
8) Ford VS Ferrari
This Oscar contender is another buddy/buddy flick with Matt Damon and Christian Bale as car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles. It's all about mass marketer Ford taking on the legendary bespoke Ferrari at Le Mans in the mid 1960s. It's sort of like Canada Dry going up against Veuve Clicquot. But don't we always root for the underdog, the everyman, the wannabe? The film is way too long but it still coaxes you along and even tugs at your heart here and there.