February may be the shortest month, but we’re certainly not short of great film releases. Denzel Washington and Daniel Day-Lewis give Oscar-nominated performances as a shy lawyer in Roman J. Israel, Esq. and an obsessive 1950s dressmaker in Phantom Thread, respectively.
Of course, if awards-bait isn’t your thing, Helen Mirren stars in the haunted-house horror Winchester, and Colin Firth plays a disgraced sailor in The Mercy. Besides that, some of the films I’m most excited for this awards season are coming out this month, so without further ado, let’s take a look at the nominees – I mean, films!
Black Panther – 13th February
This year is sure to be a lucrative one for Marvel, with Avengers: Infinity Wars scheduled for May. But first, the MCU is hoping to dazzle with its hotly anticipated Black Panther.
Having returned to Wakanda after the events of a certain Civil War, King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) can’t seem to catch a break. With not one, but two enemies hoping to threaten his kingdom, he has to team up with a CIA agent (Martin Freeman) and members of the Dora Milaje (Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira) to save his nation.
Even if you’re not that keen on Marvel, there’s no doubt that Black Panther has an incredible team both in front of the camera (including Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett and Daniel Kaluuya) and behind it – Ryan Coogler already turned heads with his emotionally fraught directorial debut, Fruitvale Station. And, of course, expect some beautiful shots from Rachel Morrison, who recently made history as the first woman ever (ever!) to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, for her work on Mudbound.
The Shape of Water – 14th February
Speaking of the Oscars, leading the pack with 13 nominations is Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water.
Elisa (Sally Hawkins) lives a lonely life as a mute janitor who works in a guarded government facility, with her only friends being her neighbour (Richard Jenkins) and her colleague (Octavia Spencer). However, when a sea creature (Doug Jones) is brought into the laboratory, she can’t help but feel an inextricable connection to it.
This may sound like a bizarre premise, but if del Toro has taught us anything with previous gems like Pan’s Labyrinth, it is to go in with an open mind and leave with a truly unique experience.
Lady Bird – 16th February
Firmly moving past her “mumblecore” background (a term she hates), Greta Gerwig proves her talent once again as she makes her sole directorial debut with the semi-autobigraphical Lady Bird.
The self-named Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) dreams of a bohemian life in New York, where she can create to her heart’s content. The reality however, is that she attends a Catholic high school in the suburbs of Sacramento, and lives with her stifling parents – especially her mother (Laurie Metcalf).
There are so few films that intricately depict the relationship between a mother and a daughter, but – by all accounts – Gerwig does so with aplomb. It helps that she has a superb cast, such as Ronan, who puts us all to shame with a third Oscar nomination before her 24th birthday. She’s supported by several members of the Broadway community, like Metcalf (A Doll’s House, Part 2), Beanie Feldstein (Hello, Dolly!) and Tracy Letts (August: Osage County), as well as Timothée Chalamet, who’s certainly making a name for himself this year, with his breakout performance in Call Me By Your Name.
I, Tonya – 23rd February
Based on the second biggest sports scandal of 1994 (because, well, O.J. was that year), Margot Robbie’s production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, is finally releasing its first project – and my, is it quite the debutante.
With the pressure piling on from her abusive mother (Allison Janney), figure skater Tonya Harding (Robbie) and her partner (Sebastian Stan) will stop at nothing to get her a place on the US Winter Olympics team…
Despite being mostly snubbed at the Academy Awards (save for a pair of acting noms for Robbie and Janney, and another for Tatiana S. Riegel’s editing), this is probably the film I’m most looking forward to this month. Having been described as the Goodfellas of ice skating – perhaps a hyperbolic comparison, though judging by the trailer may be true, at least stylistically and tonally – the film is told from several conflicting perspectives in order to convey the unreliable narrative of the true events upon which it is based. If your Great Gatsby-loving heart isn’t swooning yet, then maybe the promise of some exhilarating choreography and top-notch acting will encourage it to do so.
Featured image courtesy of Marvel Studios via IMDb.
Image use license here.