I’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.
*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.
While Farrell played a convincing nice dolt, Butler embodied Elvis. But Fraser was excellent.
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
*CATE BLANCHETT, Tár
ANA DE ARMAS, Blonde
ANDREA RISEBOROUGH, To Leslie
*MICHELLE WILLIAMS, The Fabelmans
*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.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
*BRENDAN GLEESON, The Banshees of Inisherin
BRIAN TYREE HENRY, Causeway
*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.
*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.
WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
*ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, Screenplay – Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson & Ian Stokell
GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY, Written by Rian Johnson
*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.
WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
*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.
*THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN, Martin McDonagh
*EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
*THE FABELMANS, Steven Spielberg
*TÁR, Todd Field
TRIANGLE OF SADNESS, Ruben Östlund
Any of the ones I saw I’d consider, though I’m leaning slightly toward Field.
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.
When I went to see The Whale at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany with my wife in late January, I was concerned.
Would the film be fatphobic? I don’t believe it was. This is a man named Charlie (Brendan Fraser) who is in pain, and food is his drug of choice. At some level, I understand that. So the reviewers that complain that his eating disorder wasn’t adequately explained confound me.
Yes, the movie was claustrophobic. Long before reading the end credits, I knew the piece had to have been based on a play that Samuel D. Hunter wrote. For me, this works in its favor.
Charlie has closed himself off. He teaches an online English class, but his video on the laptop “doesn’t work.” His only friend, Liz (Hong Chau) is alternatingly irritated with him and understanding. She’s linked to him in another way.
He misses his daughter, who he had left along with his wife when the girl was just eight. The now-seventeen-year-old Ellie (Sadie Sink) unexpectedly shows up at his house against the express wishes of her mother. She plays mind games with both Charlie and the young evangelist Thomas (Ty Simkins), who keeps showing up at Charlie’s place.
Much has been made of Fraser’s Oscar-nominated performance, and for a good reason. Even those who don’t like the film praise the actor. Chau is also nominated. The performance of Samatha Morton as Mary, Charlie’s ex and Ellie’s mom, really jumped out for me..
Director Darren Aronofsky is the source of much of mixed feelings about the movie. One critic said The Whale didn’t need the director’s “heavy darkness to be effective.” I thought it was appropriate.
Another said the adaptation was “empathetic and soulful,” which I agree with. A third: the “questions about its purpose – why is this difficult movie about a very difficult man even made – unanswered.” I don’t understand that observation.
Aronofsky directed one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. In Requiem for a Dream (2000), Ellen Burstyn was nominated for Best Actress. She should have won but lost out to Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich, who was fine in that picture.
While I saw The Whale at a cinema, I think it could survive being streamed more than, say, the current Avatar film.
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