Widescreen: Did 'Shape of Water' deserve to win? Only time will tell
After the Oscars are handed out and the red carpet gawkers have gotten their gushing and their snark out of their systems, the Monday morning quarterbacking begins.
This year's top winner, Guillermo del Toro's "The Shape of Water," has its share of fans among the general filmgoing populace, but many dismiss it as "the weird fish-sex movie" that didn't deserve to beat an instantly iconic, socially aware movie like "Get Out." And maybe it didn't deserve to win -- and maybe "Get Out," or "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," or "Dunkirk" will endure as the 2017 film (or films) best remembered by the public.
But we won't know for years. Maybe even decades.
In March 1995, no one knew that "The Shawshank Redemption" would become a cable staple and the highest-rated movie of all time by IMDb users. Back then, film fans were too busy complaining that "Forrest Gump" had beaten "Pulp Fiction," when they weren't debating whether David Letterman was a good Oscars host (16-year-old Sean sure thought so. "Uma! Oprah!").
In 2001, Ridley Scott's "Gladiator" was bemoaned as a safe pick, a popular spectacle that would soon be forgotten. Seventeen years later, the movie that made Russell Crowe a star is shown in packed venues around the world as live orchestras perform its score. Do you even remember the other nominees? They were "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Chocolat," "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich." That last one still plays on cable every day. The other three? Not so much.
Movies take on lives of their own. They always have. Famously, "It's a Wonderful Life" was a flop when it premiered in 1946; it became a classic thanks to television stations that needed something cheap to show at Christmastime. "Office Space" was barely a blip on the radar in 1999, but VHS and DVD made it a comedy classic -- it was even featured in last Sunday's stirring montage celebrating 90 years of great movies.
So is it possible that "the weird fish-sex movie" will become a classic as more people see it? Sure. I mean, a movie about a farmer who hears voices telling him to plow his corn and build a baseball diamond is still a beloved favorite, and that sounds pretty weird, doesn't it? And yeah, sometimes the Oscars do get it right; "The Silence of the Lambs," "Titanic," "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" and "Schindler's List" are pretty clear examples from my lifetime of iconic, enduring films that deserve the title of Best Picture.
Time will tell. An internet thinkpiece will not.
'Florida Project' screening
Thanks to the After Hours Film Society and the Ogden 6 Theatre in Naperville, you have another chance to see my favorite film of 2017 on the big screen.
"The Florida Project," director Sean Baker's portrait of the "hidden homeless" who live in shabby motels just miles away from Walt Disney World, will play at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 12, at the theater, 1227 E. Ogden Ave. Tickets are $6 for After Hours members, $10 for the general public. For more information on After Hours, visit afterhoursfilmsociety.com.
Willem Dafoe was nominated for the supporting-actor Oscar for his role as motel manager Bobby in this surprisingly funny -- but ultimately heartbreaking -- film that deserved more accolades. It's available now on DVD, Blu-ray and digital platforms.
• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald multiplatform editor who is very glad that "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" didn't win Best Picture. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.