2023 Oscar-nominated films

The Academy Awards are on Sunday, March 12

2023 oscar-nominated filmsI’ve made a concerted effort to see as many 2023 Oscar-nominated films as possible, all at the cinema.  I try to see them in the movie theater because I can “give in” to the film easier, without the distraction of the phones or the cleaning that needs to be done.

If I watched it, there’s an asterisk  (*) before it. And if I reviewed it, I link to it. I’m not predicting anything here, only noting my rooting interests.

Indeed, I’ll not watch the awards show on Sunday, March 12, though I may record it to watch a few highlights.

Best Picture

*ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT; Malte Grunert, Producer
*AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER; James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
*THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN; Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, and Martin McDonagh, Producers
*ELVIS; Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Gail Berman, Patrick McCormick, and Schuyler Weiss, Producers
*EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE; Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, and Jonathan Wang, Producers
*THE FABELMANS; Kristie Macosko Krieger, Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, Producers
*TÁR; Todd Field, Alexandra Milchan, and Scott Lambert, Producers
TOP GUN: MAVERICK; Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie, David Ellison, and Jerry Bruckheimer, Producers
TRIANGLE OF SADNESS; Erik Hemmendorff and Philippe Bober, Producers *WOMEN TALKING, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, and Frances McDormand, Producers
I’m rooting for EEAAO, which I found, beneath its veneer of weird, told a compelling immigrant story. My second pick would be All Quiet On The Western Front. I also liked The Fabelmans, partly because of this spoiler-laden essay in Think Christian.
Avatar would be my last pick, which among other things, was trying to be too many movies at once. Triangle of Sadness was at my local theater again early in 2023, but life got in the way; it’s playing once next week, and I may go. Also the new Top Gun is returning, which I hope to see before Sunday, March 12.
Starring role
*COLIN FARRELL, The Banshees of Inisherin
While Farrell played a convincing nice dolt, Butler embodied Elvis. But Fraser was excellent.
*MICHELLE YEOH, Everything Everywhere All at Once
I’m pulling for Michelle, either one, though Yeoh a little more. Blanchett is always excellent. BTW, I thought the investigation of Riseborough’s campaign was a nothing burger.
Conversely, the suggestion that Danielle Deadwyler (Till) and Viola Davis (The Woman King) were subjected to misogynoir is credible. In any case, Riseborough’s surprise nom almost certainly came at the expense of Deadwyler, which Riseborough does not discount.
*BRENDAN GLEESON, The Banshees of Inisherin
*JUDD HIRSCH, The Fabelmans
*BARRY KEOGHAN, The Banshees of Inisherin
*KE HUY QUAN, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Supporting roles are so varied. Hirsch came in for filming a few days, but Gleeson shows up throughout. Yet Ke Huy Quan will, and should win.
*HONG CHAU, The Whale
*KERRY CONDON, The Banshees of Inisherin
*JAMIE LEE CURTIS, Everything Everywhere All at Once
*STEPHANIE HSU, Everything Everywhere All at Once
I saw all of the performances in this category! And I like them all. Bassett has… presence. Hong Chau was the window to the outside world. Condon was the glue that allowed for communication between the two men. This is Curtis’ first nomination after 40 years in the business. If I had to pick one, it would be Hsu, a worthy antagonist.
*ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, Screenplay – Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson & Ian Stokell
*LIVING,  Written by Kazuo Ishiguro
TOP GUN: MAVERICK, Screenplay by Ehren Kruger and Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie; Story by Peter Craig and Justin Marks
*WOMEN TALKING, Screenplay by Sarah Polley
Women Talking, though I wish I’d seen the new Knives Out.

*THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN, Written by Martin McDonagh

*EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, Written by Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert

*THE FABELMANS, Written by Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner
*TÁR, Written by Todd Field
TRIANGLE OF SADNESS, Written by Ruben Östlund
EEAAO by the Daniels, though TÁR was interesting.
*EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
*THE FABELMANS, Steven Spielberg
*TÁR, Todd Field
Any of the ones I saw I’d consider, though I’m leaning slightly toward Field.
Other Categories
I saw only one of the animated features, Puss In Boots: The Last Wish, which I liked a lot.
Cinematography: I saw three of the five, ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, ELVIS, and TÁR. I thought the former’s war motif was most striking.

Of the three films I saw in the Costume Design category, EEAAO blew me away, though BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER was very impressive, and ELVIS wasn’t shabby.

For film editing, EEAAO doesn’t work without great skill in this area. ALL QUIET is the only International Film I saw, though THE QUIET GIRL is coming to the area. Makeup and hairstyling: THE WHALE is in a strong category; I did not see THE BATMAN.
Musical score: BANSHEES; I didn’t see BABYLON. Production design: the four I saw were all good, but the second AVATAR is mesmerizing; ditto for its Visual Effects. Sound: ALL QUIET.
I’ll deal with the shorts in a separate post. I have seen none of the documentary features.

Movies: Elvis; Mr. Malcolm’s List


After seeing the new movie Elvis – and knowing the limitations of the biopic genre – I wish my father were still around so that we could debate the merits, but not the film per se. It was more that he hated Elvis for his cultural appropriation. I believe that the film showed that the kid from Tupelo, MS (the young Australian actor Chaydon Jay) came by his love of black music honestly. (Unlike, say, Pat Boone covering Little Richard’s Tutti Fruiti.)

When my wife and I saw the previews a few months ago, featuring the somewhat older Elvis (the magnetic Austin Butler), my wife asked, “Was Elvis REALLY that sexy?” I SHOULD have said, “50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong!” which is (sort of) the title of one of his greatest hits albums. Instead, I just said, “Yes, yes, he was.” Her query comes from only being familiar with the “fat Elvis” stuck in Vegas.

I liked it a lot. Sean P. Means of The Movie Cricket wrote, “It’s big, bold, and brassy. It’s not perfect, and at 2 hours and 39 minutes still doesn’t deliver everything you’d expect in a telling of Elvis’s life story. But it’s always holding your attention.” Yeah, that’s about right.

Who is that?

It’s always nice to see the bits one’s aware of, such as Elvis singing to an actual hound dog on Steve Allen’s show. I don’t know exactly what his relationship with some of the black stars of the era was, but it was fun to try to identify them. I didn’t recognize B.B. King (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) or Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup (Gary Clark Jr.). Still, Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Yola), Big Mama Thornton (Shonka Dukureh), and especially Little Richard (Alton Mason) were obvious to me. Sadly, Shonka Dukureh died recently.

The one aspect I’m still puzzling about is Tom Hanks’ accent as Colonel Tom Parker. It’s…weird. Parker biographer Alanna Nash says that’s not what he sounded like, which frankly doesn’t bother me. Nash said, “He didn’t have an impediment — he was just trying to wrap a Dutch tongue around the English language, Southern-style… But [director Baz Luhrmann] wanted to make him seem more ‘other.’ Or as Baz told me in an interview, ‘I thought it was very important that Tom presents the audience with a strangeness, a sort of ‘What is going on with this guy?'”

But “Nash did say that there are some things Baz Luhrmann got right with Elvis. This includes the suggestion that Parker did all he could to prevent Presley from fulfilling his dream of embarking on a European tour. It was unfortunate for Presley, as the reason had nothing to do with the singer but with Parker’s lack of a passport.”

I suspect Austin Butler will get an Academy Award nomination for playing Elvis. His energy and charisma, and talent are tremendous. All in all, I recommend the movie.

Very Jane Austen-y

MrMalcolmsList“A young woman courts a mysterious wealthy suitor in 19th century England.” That’s the premise of the newish movie Mr. Malcolm’s List. Do you want more? “When she fails to meet an item on his list of requirements for a bride, Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton) is jilted by London’s most eligible bachelor, Mr. Malcolm (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù). Feeling humiliated and determined to exact revenge, she convinces her friend Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto) to play the role of his ideal match. Soon, Mr. Malcolm wonders whether he’s found the perfect woman…or the perfect hoax.”

My wife loves this stuff and was very fond of the film. I thought it was fine, and the diverse cast was entertaining.

We saw both films at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany in July 2022.

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