The Alestle staff OSCAR nominations

‘The Lighthouse’

“The Lighthouse” is easily the best movie I’ve seen all year. The visuals, the writing and the characters specifically serve to make this movie captivating from the very start. 

When a young man looking for a job finds himself paired with a veteran lighthouse keeper on an island secluded off the New England coast, the two struggle to maintain their sanity and their lives.  

The movie is filmed in black and white, and it’s presented in a unique 1 by 1.19 aspect ratio. 

Not only does this harken back to the past when this movie takes place, but it’s limited color and view help contribute to the claustrophobia and eventual cabin fever that is expected from a movie about two men stuck on a lighthouse for four weeks. 

The two main characters, Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) and Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) spend nearly the entire movie crying, fighting, arguing, singing and dancing while intoxicated. 

Through all this drunken chaos, Pattinson and Dafoe are able to realize the kind of complex relationship between two men that can only come when they’re stuck on island together for a month. 

Of course, the actors wouldn’t be able to succeed this well if it weren’t for the script. In a movie composed mainly of dialogue between these two characters, the script manages to never let the movie get boring. 

Every line from the very beginning is full of weight that shows what these characters think of each other, themselves and the lighthouse itself. 

“The Lighthouse” tells an amazing story while being just as mesmerizing and intense as the best action movies of the year. 

— John McGowan, reporter

‘Fractured’ 

“Fractured”, released in September on Netflix, was a movie I had been anxiously awaiting since the release of the trailer, and it did not disappoint. Although it was not in theaters, I found that this was my favorite movie of the year. 

A man, woman and their daughter are traveling when they stop at a gas station and the little girl falls into a construction site hole, breaking her arm. 

Frightened, the parents rush to the hospital where the woman and daughter are taken to get an MRI.

Hours pass by and as the father becomes increasingly skeptical, he realizes that maybe the hospital cannot not be trusted as he cannot find his wife or daughter anywhere.

This movie exhibits the perfect balance of mystery and suspense, keeping the audience guessing the whole time. The disappearance of the little girl and her mother gives the viewer a sense of empathy towards the main character, her father. 

As kidnapping has become unfortunately common in our world, you find yourself rooting for the father to do whatever it takes to get his family back. It is hard to even form an educated guess on what the ending may be due to the psychological dramatization presented within the characters throughout. 

It is definitely not a movie that you can half watch without missing something important. 

— Mackenzie Smith, multimedia editor 

‘Ford v. Ferrari’

As someone who has never been a big fan of watching NASCAR or other car races, I didn’t know what to expect walking into the theater to see “Ford v. Ferrari.” 

I worried that I would be bored during the movie or simply not be able to follow it, since I am nowhere near a car expert. Walking out of the theater two and a half hours later, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the film. 

Matt Damon and Christian Bale both gave remarkable performances as the two leading actors in the film, and the directing was equally impressive. 

The movie takes place in the ‘60s and tells the story of a fierce competition between the heads of two major automating companies — America’s Ford and Italy’s Ferrari. 

More than this, however, the film focuses on the ingenuity and dedication of two hard working Americans, giving the average viewer someone to truly root for. 

As a movie about racing, there weren’t that many scenes actually devoted to racing competitions. Instead, much of the film focuses on the engineering and trial and error behind the creation of the race cars. 

The racing scenes that are included, however, are absolutely exhilarating. The movie held my attention throughout, and as someone who didn’t know the true story behind the film, the ending was a shocking surprise. 

— Jennifer Goeckner, managing editor

‘Avengers: Endgame’

I honestly struggled between two very different movies that topped my personal list this year. “Avengers: Endgame” was one of the few giant blockbusters that really deserved its hype. 

Let’s face it: by now, you’ve either bought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe or you’ve passed it by, so I can’t pretend it’s a movie for anyone who hasn’t watched the other 21 movies in the franchise. 

But if you were following this giant, sprawling story, “Endgame” managed to draw together all the plot lines and loose ends and put a powerful finale for the series, while still leaving room for the next phase (and about a dozen series on Disney+). 

I can’t imagine the strain on those poor writers, having to satisfy all those requirements in one movie - and make a billion dollars or so. I’m frankly amazed that they pulled it off, and in addition, “Endgame” is just plain fun to watch.

— Elizabeth Donald, copy editor 

‘Little Women’

But on the other end of the spectrum… “Little Women.” I am a long-time fan of the classic novel and especially the 1994 film version, so I was happy to see Greta Gerwig’s update — and it is an update, with many lines of dialogue and a few plot points drawn more from Louisa May Alcott’s life than her novel.

Saoirse Ronan is a worthy successor to Jo March, and extra credit must go to Laura Dern for a brilliant and believable Marmee. 

Sadly, it missed being my top film because Timothee Chalumet was badly miscast as Laurie, working as hard as he can for a difficult role but simply has no believable chemistry with Ronan or Florence Pugh as Amy (whose speech about marriage as an economic question is straight from Alcott and sure to be her Oscar clip for her supporting-actress nomination). 

Likewise the “twist” that had people screaming online is more Alcott than March, and I leave it to others to decide if that ending - or Gerwig’s decision to time-hop back and forth through the story - was a good choice.

One thing is for certain: Gerwig was absolutely snubbed for the Oscar, and it’s a shame worthy of Jo March’s best wrath. 

— Elizabeth Donald, copy editor 

‘Joker’

An allusive commentary on mental illness, “Joker” exploits the harsh reality faced by individuals with mental illnesses in modern society. 

The film is brutally honest and overly pessimistic. However, the nature of the film is refreshing, as it does not conceal the negative aspects of mental illness or sugarcoat the way in which others respond to people affected by it.

Joaquin Phoenix plays the distraught Arthur Fleck, eventually known as Joker. He expertly encapsulates the manic highs and lows of psychosis and delusions of grandeur. 

The film revolves around Arthur’s life as a professional street clown, working to make ends meet and provide for his mentally ill mother. Pushed to his limits, Arthur endures abuse and criticism until he cracks and lashes out against one such perpetrator.

Amid a tumultuous political and socioeconomic environment in Gotham city, chaos soon follows. The film exposes the fragility of societal foundations and belief systems. 

It begs viewers to call their morals and perceptions into question. The film will captivate and perplex viewers until the rolling of the credits.

— Jordyn Nimmer, lifestyles editor

‘Knives Out’

As a self-proclaimed fan of murder mysteries, I was sure I’d enjoy “Knives Out,” and it did not disappoint. “Knives Out” begins with the murder of a wealthy author, and his dysfunctional family provides countless suspects and motives. 

I found each character to be entertaining in their own way, and the plot kept me guessing with each twist and turn. 

The film achieves a balance between suspense, sadness and humor that made me laugh, while keeping me on the edge of my seat. All of the actors are well-casted, especially Chris Evans, who plays the arrogant, yet charismatic, black sheep of his affluent family. 

I particularly appreciated the political overtones in “Knives Out.” The film’s portrayal of a child of an undocumented immigrant, along with a plot that makes the viewer question what constitutes righteous punishment, makes a bold statement about how undocumented immigrants are treated. 

This is done, however, without seeming preachy or overdoing the theme. 

While some aspects of the film are a bit silly — for example, the dead man’s nurse cannot lie without throwing up — they manage to provide comic relief throughout darker moments in the story. 

This type of comedy is balanced by more mature humor that makes the film suitable for an older audience. “Knives Out”’ held my interest and kept me guessing until the very end.

— Nicole Boyd, copy editor 

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