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.

Movie review: TÁR [Todd Fields]

Cate Blanchett will get an oscar nod

tar-movie-review-2022My wife and I went to see the late afternoon matinee of the movie TÁR back on November 10 at the Spectrum Theatre. There was, coincidentally, one other couple in the roomy theater, who we’ve known for years. Afterward, as the four of us mused about what we had just seen, a young man who worked at the cinema proclaimed, “Isn’t that the best movie EVER?”

The four patrons all agreed that Cate Blanchett inhabited the character of music conductor Lydia Tár wholly. It is not surprising that people sought Tár’s body of work only to discover that she was a fictional character.

Blanchett’s complex performance featured her actually playing the piano, something she hadn’t tried in decades; conducting and speaking German, which she learned for the role. Tár striking a punching back to the rhythm of Mozart’s A Little Night Music made me laugh aloud.

There were other touches of verisimilitude in the film that I really liked. The far too long introduction by a New Yorker writer before interviewing Lydia reminded a specific Writer’s Institute event I attended several years ago. Deutsche grammophon is the imprint of many of the classical recordings that many folks, including me, own.

Okay, and

But, as several of my friends asked me, what is the movie about? The Spectrum description says it “examines the changing nature of power, its impact, and durability in our modern world.” So it’s the looking away from the foibles of a talented artist, at least for a while? The power of the cancel culture? Is Icarus flying too close to the sun?

Mashable opined: “Like its protagonist, Tár is many things all at once: a psychological drama, a foray into horror, a (very) dry comedy, and a relationship drama.”

Friend Karen suggested that we are supposed to feel some sympathy for the conductor. This is even though, according to another of the movie’s other main characters, all of Tár’s relationships, save one, are transactional. That is dead on.

Over a week later, I’m still musing about the film. It was good to see it in a movie theater with speakers. I think this would be too claustrophobic to watch on the small screen. And I did love not just the music but the thought and process of creating a performance.

So I looked at some of the reviews; 92% were positive from the critics, but only 72% from the audience. From The Guardian: “a singularly strange offering from US writer-director Todd Field.” I cannot argue with that.

That’s not my take

But I will dispute Amy Taubin’s assessment in ArtForum. “Cate Blanchett, playing one overblown note in Todd Field’s imbecilic and carelessly racist TÁR.” The characterization is based on the fact that “Field cuts from the concert halls and trophy residential real estate of Berlin and New York… to the filthy streets and decaying buildings of an unnamed Southeast Asian country…”

No, it was not a one-note performance. And, as my friend David divined, it’s a particular country, as a reptilian reference in the dialogue would suggest.

I’m glad I saw it, yet I don’t imagine I’d watch it again. 178 minutes is a long haul that’s so…internal.As Charles Koplinski noted, “TÁR is a movie you admire more than enjoy.”

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