The actual awards may take a backseat to the controversy that has infiltrated Hollywood over the past 12 months at this year's Oscars. However, I am not qualified to report on those issues, so let's talk about the movies that were nominated for Best Picture this year. If you haven't seen a couple of these movies yet, tread lightly because there will be some spoilers popping up every once in a while.

9. 'Dunkirk'

I was fairly underwhelmed with "Dunkirk" when I saw it this summer. To me, the movie created a ton of tension with an hour-and-a-half of buildup followed by an unsatisfying climax.

I had extremely high expectations for a Christopher Nolan film involving one of the most pivotal events of World War II, but I left the theater unimpressed.

8. 'Phantom Thread'

The combination of Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis produced one of the greatest films of all-time in "There Will Be Blood," and "Phantom Thread" follows a similar model. Day-Lewis' character, Reynolds Woodcock, is a sociopathic workaholic, and he gave a wonderful performance in the role that he said ultimately drove him to retirement.

There are some incredible scenes in this film involving him and his co-star Vicky Krieps who plays his love interest in the film.The fight scene at a surprise dinner, the proposal, and the mushroom omelet scene were all very well-done.

Like "There Will Be Blood" there's a satisfying and surprising payoff at the end, but the melodramatic nature of the whole movie caused it to come in a little low on my list.

7. 'The Post'

Any film involving Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, and Tom Hanks is going to get some Oscar consideration, but I don't think there's anything particularly special about "The Post."

It's good old-fashioned cinema that tells an interesting story that is incredibly important in American history, but I didn't notice anything innovative about the way Spielberg tells the story.

There are some predictable light strings over strong monologues by Streep and Hanks, you can feel the climax coming, and you get goosebumps when the good guys win. "The Post" is an enjoyable watch and a formula that works well, but there's nothing groundbreaking about it.

6. 'The Shape of Water'

"The Shape of Water" tells a unique story of a mute maid named Elisa who falls in love with a mysterious lizard-man.

It's a thrilling sci-fi adventure with a twist of a Cold War spy story, and there is some solid comic relief included.

My two favorite scenes include two water droplets dancing on a bus window, and a scene where Elisa and her lizard lover break out in a musical number together. Michael Shannon also gives a haunting performance as the lizard-man's evil handler. I'd give "The Shape of Water" an 8/10, but it's not quite on the same level as some of my favorite Best Picture nominees.

5. 'Get Out'

"Get Out" is an exciting psychological thriller that acts as a social commentary on race relations in America. The movie provides intense action and a surprise twist that is essential in a thriller. Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford give captivating performances as Rose's creepy and evil parents, and all of the secondary characters (Betty Gabriel, LilRel Howery, and Lakeith Stanfield) really stood out in this film.

I wasn't incredibly impressed with Daniel Kaluuya as a lead actor and was a little surprised he earned a Best Actor nomination, but he was certainly good enough to play the lead in an Academy Award-nominated film. Jordan Peele hit a home run in his directorial debut in a genre that he didn't have any experience in as an actor.

4. 'Darkest Hour'

I didn't have incredibly high expectations for "Darkest Hour," but Gary Oldman's detailed portrayal of Winston Churchill and the best cinematography I've seen this year vaulted the film very high on my Best Picture rankings.

Churchill's quirky demeanor provides a very entertaining character, and I'd expect Oldman to take home the Best Actor award for his efforts.

The subway scene where Churchill takes a poll of the public is fantastic, and it totally changes the way you view him as a leader in this movie. With the combination of Oldman's legendary performance and the cinematography that makes every camera shot look like a piece of art, I wouldn't be upset if "Darkest Hour" took home the hardware for Best Picture this year.

3. 'Call Me By Your Name'

"Call Me By Your Name" featured the best love story of the year between Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer).

Northern Italy in the summer of 1983 provides the most romantic setting for this captivating love story where neither of the characters really want to fall for each other. One of the funniest scenes of the film involves Elio and Oliver essentially boasting who is "straighter" even though the film drops hints that they will end up together throughout the entire first act.

Sufjan Stevens also provides a couple of original songs that act as a perfect soundtrack for the film.

Normally I prefer movies to end in tragedy but Elio and Oliver's love for each other is so beautiful that I was actually rooting for them to live happily ever after. Instead, the end of the movie is heartbreaking and it left me staring at the screen even after the credits had ended.

"Call Me By Your Name," "Lady Bird," and "Three Billboards" were clearly the three best films of the year in my opinion, and it was very difficult to put one of them in third place.

2. 'Lady Bird'

"Lady Bird" is a coming-of-age story that executes all the elements of that genre of movie extremely well.

A fantastic performance from a lead actor/actress is essential to the success of a coming-of-age story and Saoirse Ronan provides exactly that.

She plays one of the most lovable characters of the year, but you can see why her mother constantly expresses her disapproval. Immediately after walking out of the theater, I told my friends that I could see why Rotten Tomatoes would rate this movie as 100 percent fresh, but I don't think anyone would say it's the best movie they've ever seen. Yet, I couldn't stop thinking about this particular film for about a week after I watched it.

I completely identified with Lady Bird's conclusions of her hometown Sacramento, and Greta Gerwig wrote and directed a movie that will resonate with young people for generations to come.

1. 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'

"Three Billboards" was my favorite film of the year because it contains the incredible tragedy, appropriate comic relief, a captivating story, fantastic acting, and outstanding character development.

Frances McDormand provides possibly the best performance of the year as a rough and tough woman who won't let anything get in her way, but her world has been torn apart by the tragic loss of her daughter. She shows the perfect combination of determination and vulnerability of the film, and McDormand is the main reason why I would give "Three Billboards" the Best Picture award.

This movie is stacked with incredibly accomplished actors from Woody Harrelson to Peter Dinklage, but Sam Rockwell's performance should have him take home the Best Supporting Actor award. I was skeptical of Rockwell at the beginning of the movie as he fits all the stereotypes of the "rookie cop" archetype, but he undergoes incredible character development throughout the film and becomes a reliable partner in McDormand's quest to find her daughter's killer.

The conflict that Harrelson's character's death provides makes this the most complex plot of any movie I saw this year. The creativity of the whole idea of the three billboards makes the audience research whether it was based on a true story, which is one of the signs of a great screenplay.

Peter Dinklage adds so much to the film as McDormand's wannabe lover, and Rockwell's mother (played by Sandy Martin) is another very minor character that plays a big role in why I love this movie. An extremely engaging story, outstanding performances by the lead and supporting actors, and some surprisingly beautiful views of Missouri's scenery makes "Three Billboards" my favorite film of the year.


"Three Billboards" won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture: Drama, and "Lady Bird" took home the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy. I think "Three Billboards" could win Best Screenplay, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor, which has to make it a favorite to win Best Picture as well.