From The Black Panther, a Marvel Superhero flick about an ancient African tribe that discovers superhuman powers and seals itself off from the outside world to an action movie based on a 2013 computer game and starring Alicia Vikander, 2018 will unquestionably go down as one of the prime years for movie-goers. Check out these three Oscar-nominated movies you simply can’t afford to miss!

The Shape of Water

In a plot marked with surreal twists and turns, Sally Hawkins plays Elisa Esposito, a mute cleaning woman working at a secret research facility housing a hideous monster captured in South America. “Strickland,” a cruel army officer who found it is told to dissect the creature in order to help the US in its space race with the Soviet Union.

Sally begins secretly spending time with the captive being. She grows fond of it and, together with her middle-aged gay friend “Giles,” carries out a meticulously-planned plot to free it. Having been given 72 hours to recover the army’s prized possession, Strickland eventually catches wind of its whereabouts and arrives at the last second as Giles and Elisa are about to free the creature into a canal. He shoots the creature and Elisa but it’s able to cure itself and slash Strickland to death. It carries Elisa off into the water and heals her wounds.

The movie, which takes place in 1962 Baltimore at the peak of the Cold War and civil rights movement, is well-cast and puts some of the most compelling political and social issues of the day on display.

The Darkest Hour

Gary Oldman stars as Winston Churchill during the early days of the Battle of Britain. Hitler’s Germany is in the preliminary stages of what it hopes will become the capitulation of Western civilization and creation of the Third Reich.

In the UK, the fiery opposition leader Churchill is one of a few remaining practical thinkers who realize Hitler will never give up his dreams of taking over the world no matter how many concessions are made. Prime Minister Chamberlain is finally forced to resign when the Nazis renege on their promises and invade Czechoslovakia. Despite being looked down upon by the upper echelons of British high society, the life-long outcast is hoisted to lead the nation as it faces a fight to the death.

This is the powerful, well-directed story of how one man was able to overcome all odds and lead England and Her Allies to victory over the biggest threat to democracy and freedom faced by the free world.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Mildred Hayes (played by Frances McDormand) is grieving for her murdered daughter. As the investigation drags on, failing to provide reliable clues as to the nature of the crime, she decides to rent out three billboards and post a personal message to Sheriff Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) accusing him of ignoring the case.

This angers Willoughby (who’s suffering from terminal cancer) and he decides to question Mildred. While talking to her, he begins to cough up blood and decides to go on a last outing with his wife and daughters. They have a romantic picnic during which he tries to distract his daughters to spend the last minutes of his life with his wife. He ends up committing suicide but before doing so, leaves parting notes for a number of people including Mildred.

The movie swerves into an unexpected direction with Sheriff Willoughby’s alcoholic assistant Dixon taking a key role. This dark crime flick strikes the viewer with its sharp contrasts, chilling brutality, and mellow subcontexts dealing with contemporary issues.