Nothing captures this year’s Oscar nominated movies as well as the Storinos of Wilmette, who have been recreating adorable stills of best picture nominees since 2011 starring their three daughters ages seven, five and two year’s old.
The concept is the brainchild of mom Maggie Storino, whose photos went viral after she shared pictures of her oldest daughter Sophia, who was only four months old at the time. Since then, the Oscar photos — called Don’t Call Me Oscar — have become an annual family tradition, helping the Storinos get through the punishing Chicago winters. Now that the kids are getting bigger, they are starting to come up with their own ideas on how to recreate a scene.
DailyNorthShore: Now that you are in your eighth year for Don’t Call Me Oscar, how has this project changed and what keeps you coming back to it?
Storino: Don’t Call Me Oscar is an amazing way to spend time with my family. As the kids’ school and activity schedules become more demanding, this project is the perfect excuse to make time to play together.
DNS: Are you kids providing you with more input as they get older?
Storino: Now that the girls are older, they are more involved in the production of the photos. They even weighed in on which stills to replicate. For The Post, we initially wanted to recreate the movie poster with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks walking up the stairs. Sophia made the case that she was “very good at walking up stairs.” I agreed, but I just couldn’t find enough stairs. We visited the Baha’i Temple (in costume!) but sadly, not enough stairs.
DNS: How did you go about putting together the costumes, props and sets?
Storino: Producing the photos always reminds me how much I appreciate our community. This year I co-founded the North Shore Newsletter, a monthly e-mail of activities for local parents. Working on the newsletter has introduced me to so many incredible resources on the North Shore but I must say the best local resource is the people in our community. My heart melted last year when the librarian at the Wilmette Public Library set aside a copy of The North Shore Weekend for the girls because they were on the cover.
This year we once again owe the success of the photos to our family and friends. My cousin – the genius behind the La La Land dresses – came to the rescue for the Shape of Water. Not only did she create the costumes but provided last minute babysitting for Sloane when our sitter cancelled moments before the underwater shoot.
DNS: What were some of the challenges this year? Any surprises?
Storino: Darkest Hour was so much fun but it definitely had its challenges. The success of the photo is a testament to the tenacity of the actors’ moms. They McGyvered the Amazon box turned “window” to the wall of the church, outfitted the talent in mustaches and ties (dressing like an old British man isn’t every young girl’s cup of tea), and made sure everyone was excited for the photo. Moms = amazing.
DNS: Are there any locations North Shore residents should recognize in the photos?
Storino We covered a lot of new territory this year. For Lady Bird, we squeezed in the shoot between the 10:30 a.m. and the 12:30 p.m. mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Winnetka. There are 12 girl cousins in our family, many of whom go to Catholic school, so it wasn’t that tough to cast this shot. The girls prayed so hard. It was adorable.
The hardest location to scout was Darkest Hour. I visited nearly a dozen churches before finding this spot, a miniature chapel within the First United Methodist Church in Evanston.
For Three Billboards, we returned to our favorite film spot, the Crow Island Woods. This location brought us luck in the past for Nebraska and Revenant.
Last but not least, the Y.M.C.A. in Evanston will always have a special place in my heart thanks to Shape of Water.