Oscars: Read Some of the Worst Reviews of This Year's Best Picture Nominees

4:06 PM 3/2/2018

by Zoe Haylock

Critics share harsh words about the nine films nominated for the film industry's biggest honor.

Lady Bird_Dunkirk_Get Out_Split - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of A24; Courtesy of Warner Bros.; Courtesy of Universal Pictures

While the nine films nominated for this year's Oscar for best picture earned mostly raves from critics, not every review was positive for the movies up for the film industry's highest honor.

The Post, Call Me by Your Name, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri, Darkest Hour and Dunkirk are all certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, boasting freshness ratings of 86 percent or higher. Lady Bird and Get Out each had rare 100 percent freshness ratings until one bad review ended the streak.

Read what some of the harshest critics had to say about the acclaimed films and how The Hollywood Reporter 's reviewers felt.

  • Call Me By Your Name

    Some of the worst reviews:

    “There are moments when Mr. Guadagnino’s visual choices seem unintentionally in competition with the quieter, intricate emotions that his actors put across so movingly. He can be discreet to the point of coyness (bodies sweat but don’t necessarily grunt), but it is finally the insistent delicacy and depth of emotion that makes these characters so heart-skippingly tender.” - Manohla Dargis, New York Times

    “Neither Elio nor (especially) Oliver are quite rich enough as characters to outshine their surroundings, and, although it’s rare to see a movie of this sort that is so markedly nonjudgmental, the lack of sharp conflict doesn’t make for a terribly invigorating experience. Although it ends on a powerful, bittersweet chord, the movie is a bit too determinedly soothing for comfort.” - Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

    Call Me by Your Name can be a bit of a sleeper at times. Knowing conversations about the curves of Greek statues or the origins of the word “apricot” can feel indulgent and obvious in James Ivory’s script. And there is that ever-present fog of the enormous wealth of everyone involved — the “good” kind of wealth, a Platonic ideal of Persol sunglasses, rumpled Ralph Lauren t-shirts, and the daily pursuit of leisure, sport and knowledge. It can be a little much, but, like all of Guadagnino’s films (A Bigger Splash, I Am Love), it is certainly pretty to look at.” - Lindsay Bahr, AP News

    What THR says:

    “It is this kind of attention to detail — much of it lifted directly from the book, adapted by Guadagnino with James Ivory and editor Walter Fasano — that provides the film with its unexpectedly deep wells of emotion and surges of insight into human nature and relationships.” - Boyd van Hoeij

  • Darkest Hour

    Some of the worst reviews:

    “Rather than invite the audience to think about the difficulties of democratic governance at a time of peril, the filmmakers promote passivity and hero-worship, offering not so much a Great Man Theory as a great man fetish. Their sham populism is most evident in a ridiculous scene in which Churchill rides the London Underground and meets The People, a motley mass of stiff upper lips and brimming eyes.” - A.O. Scott, New York Times

    “It’s a broad-strokes biopic, to be sure, more of a Churchill ballet than a thorough reconstruction. All the key points are there—Churchill’s loving, but argumentative relationship with his wife Clementine (an unsurprisingly poised Kristin Scott Thomas), his pitched battles with the more dovish elements of his cabinet (represented by the aggressively posh Halifax), and his close reliance on his personal secretary Elizabeth Layton (Lily James, playing a character who didn’t actually show up in Churchill’s life until a year later).” - David Sims, The Atlantic

    “There are many corridors that the film could have explored to flesh out the contradictions that informed its subject, but they’re kept out of view, all the better to reinforce an image that’s been solidly in place for 70 years.” - Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

    What THR says:

    “Oldman enthusiastically plays right into this with a boisterous performance that, physically and vocally, may not match up precisely with the Churchill the public can still behold in any number of vintage newsreels and recordings but which, ironically, may help win the old lion a new generation of fans.” - Todd McCarthy

  • Dunkirk

    Some of the worst reviews:

    “The film is, rather, both literally and figuratively, a collection of war stories—a set of anecdotes that stay rigorously within the context of battle, that emphasize the courage and the severity, the existential moment of war (and do so with a portentous shadowing of telling details) while showing nothing (actually nothing) of the soldiers outside the realm of battle.” - Richard Brody, New Yorker

    “For all Nolan’s modernist techniques, his cavalry-is-coming cliff-hangers are eye-rollers — overlong, corny, and clunkily edited. When the structure of Dunkirk becomes visible, when it stands as a mathematical demonstration of brave individual choices lining up in a tidy row, you might realize that you’ve been had.” - David Edelstein, Vulture

    “That Nolan wrenches grace notes out of such fleeting bits of horror is a testament to his intermittent skills as an image-maker. As with his recent spate of blockbusters, however, his fussy ambition ultimately results in aesthetic and thematic sloppiness.” - Jake Cole, Slant Magazine 

    What THR says:

    “Although the film is deeply moving at unexpected moments, it's not due to any manufactured sentimentality or false heroics. Bursts of emotion here explode like depth charges, at times and for reasons that will no doubt vary from viewer to viewer.” - Todd McCarthy

  • Get Out

    Some of the worst reviews:

    “But unlike Eddie Murphy, a masterful actor with a mature sense of humor, Peele fails because has not created credible characters. Chris and his ghetto friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery), who works for the TSA, are attitudes, not complex beings. The other blacks Chris encounters as servants on Rose’s family estate are no better than Trayvon Martin–type effigies — zombie-like when not sorrowful and tearful.” - Armond White, National Review

    “Like those before him, Peele also wants to tell a story that should shock us and pull us into its narrative, but he spends so much time playing around and telling you practically nothing more than there’s something strange going on, that it’s very easy to lose interest in the plot that’s been built up to that point.” - Jeff Beck, The Blu Spot

    What THR says:

    “When the film moves out of the paranoiac realm and into action, the violence is deeply satisfying, the twists delightful. Any teenager with a bucket of popcorn will get his money's worth. But Peele, a biracial man whose comic sketches have taken race-relations humor to surprising new places, doesn't stop there.” - John DeFore

  • Lady Bird

    Some of the worst reviews: 

    “I discovered a litany of bogus character traits for the title character that paint a picture of a conniving, cheating, vapid, disloyal, snotty, conformist white girl going through a phony personality crisis so she can put-on her next “Basic” (à la Ingrid Goes West) identity as one more white female college student in New York City with rocks in her head.” - Cole Smithey, Cole Smithey

    “The editing is fast-paced, at times to the point of glibness; Gerwig has a habit of cutting right on the punchline in a way that can leave you wishing a scene had another beat to breathe.” - Dana Stevens, Slate 

    What THR says

    “Snappy, spirited and shot through with the pangs and pleasures of leaving childhood behind, Lady Bird is a sharp-witted solo first feature by actress and now writer-director Greta Gerwig.” - Todd McCarthy

  • Phantom Thread

    Some of the worst reviews:

    “The movie, which Anderson fashions into an old-school gothic love story (comparisons to Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal Rebecca are justified), keeps slipping beneath our feet, landing, finally, in a place I’m not sure anyone could have seen coming. I’ll admit, it took me multiple tries to feel like the ending worked, which wouldn’t be the first time I’ve walked out of a Paul Thomas Anderson movie wondering if the magisterial work of the first three quarters of the movie had been slightly undone by a strange turn in the last 30 minutes.” - K. Austin Collins, The Ringer

    “It’s all very gorgeous but leaves you feeling rather curdled inside — so, perhaps, it’s the ideal film for holiday curmudgeons.” - Sara Stewart, NY Post

    “It’s a more literate, better acted, more tastefully presented version of Fifty Shades of Gray [sic], all lush settings and “the sub is truly the dom” dynamics. Without some understanding or or even some representation of Woodcock’s aesthetic vision or what creating means to him, he is just a narcissistic diva who adores being adored.” - Nell Minow, Huffington Post

    What THR says

    “Less grandiose than the writer-director's last three features, as well as more precision-controlled, this is a melodrama of love, desire and gamesmanship among three control freaks played out in a veritable hothouse in which the winner will be determined by who wilts last.” - Todd McCarthy

  • The Post

    Some of the worst reviews: 

    “The flow of the story has a lot of false starts, the John Williams score isn’t as powerful as his other legendary pieces for the director, and there are a couple of moments that are probably the lamest I’ve ever seen in a Spielberg movie.” - Jason Guerrasio, Business Insider 

    “Undeniably, The Post feels timely, but there’s a counter-argument to be made that, in our current era of “fake news” and easily swayed public opinion, it’s actually a dinosaur of a film—and not Jurassic Park.” - Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out

    “It feels only halfheartedly about institutional sexism, and its messaging about the urgency of confronting a corrupt executive branch is similarly relegated to climactic, pro-forma speechifying.” - Christopher Gray, Slant Magazine

    What THR says

    “Punchy and quick-pulsed, it's a fine example of that now-rare species, the big-city newspaper melodrama.” - Todd McCarthy

  • The Shape of Water

    Some of the worst reviews:

    “Ultimately, this is a film from a group of terrific talents that never quite comes together the way you’d hope. It’s just too fluid to wholly take shape.” - Sara Stewart, NY Post

    “And while Del Toro ups the gore and — disarmingly — the sex quotient, the story goes exactly where you think it will. It’s an utterly lovely, complacent movie, too comfortable with itself to generate real dramatic tension.” - David Edelstein, Vulture

    “The movie's worldview is as easy to like as the protagonist and her friends, but del Toro lays it on so thick that there's no room for counterargument or even independent thought. Ultimately his perspective is every bit as confining as the giant tank housing the creature at the lab, and this makes The Shape of Water, for all its good intentions and visual imagination, a limited experience.” - Ben Sachs, The Chicago Reader

    What THR says:

    “Centered on an exquisite performance from Sally Hawkins that conveys both delicacy and strength, this is a visually and emotionally ravishing fantasy that should find a welcome embrace from audiences starved for imaginative escape.” - David Rooney

  • Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri

    Some of the worst reviews:

    “Whether it be through malice or ignorance, McDonagh’s attempts to script the black experience in America are often fumbling and backward and full of outdated tropes.” - Ira Madison III, Daily Beast

    “A sense of context for the ways these people behave, and the relationships and moral unions that give rise to their behavior, is similarly missing. The movie feels like it’s playing out in a vacuum.” - K. Austin Collins, The Ringer

    “But as McDonagh’s story turns toward the redemption of one very bad cop, Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell), I found the Irishman McDonagh out of his league in handling uniquely American ills.” - April Wolfe, Village Voice

    What THR says:

    “McDonagh deftly teases the possibility of a cleanly resolved outcome but then pulls back to concede that we live in a divided world in which some atrocities go unpunished and some wounds will never heal, but where a window of forgiveness remains to be opened.” - David Rooney