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: Women Talking

Writer/director Sarah Polley

Women TalkingThe movie Women Talking should get a truth-in-advertising seal. It really is about women talking. It’s what they are talking about that’s noteworthy.

The narrative is based on Miriam Toews’s 2018 novel of the same name. In turn, it was “based on a true story of vicious serial rapes in an insular, ultraconservative Mennonite community in Bolivia.” The geography in the movie is not stated, but there is a specific reference to the 2010 Census, which suggests rural locale in the United States, though the speech pattern suggests Canada, where it was filmed.

In the real-life Bolivian community, “from 2005 to 2009, nine men in the Manitoba Colony, using livestock tranquilizers, drugged female victims ranging in age from three to sixty and violently raped them at night. When the girls and women awoke bruised and covered in blood, the men of the colony dismissed their reports as ‘wild female imagination’–even when they became pregnant from the assaults–or punishments from God or by demons for their supposed sins.”

Some of this narrative is incorporated in the movie, briefly shown in flashback. The men in the community are in town, but they are returning in 48 hours. What should the women do? They vote to choose among three options: stay and do nothing, stay and fight, or leave the colony. And since none of them can read or write,the tally sheet required pictures to insure that the women knew their choices.

The latter two options tied for the lead, so three families of women are appointed to meet in a barn and decide for the collective. And in doing so, figure out, e.g.,  what “stay and fight” would mean.

More than rhetoric

I know Women Talking could be perceived as another #MeToo movie, and I have seen reviews that suggest just that, which I think is a bit surfacy. Here’s a piece of one review: “WOMEN TALKING is a movie for people who think ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is too subtle an allegory about women being suppressed by the patriarchy.” No; just no.

What intrigued me was how the conversation was framed by their faith in God. Should the men be forgiven? What kind of God is there that would have the women do so? Another review summary I hated: “For all talk of a new order, Women Talking is eager to reassure us of its lack of interest in really rocking the boat, even outright including the phrase ‘not all men.'” These women are are doing a Brand New Thing, and they’re figuring it out, not coming out the gate with the proper framework.

The cast is stellar. It  includes Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Frances McDormand, Judith Ivey, and Ben Whishaw.  Sarah Polley, the director and writer of the screenplay, made a deliberate choice of the not-quite-black-and-white motif, perhaps to echo the ambivalence of their choices and the consequences of same.

Incidentally, I really liked Polley’s 2013 documentary Stories We Tell.

My wife and I saw Women Talking at a Saturday matinee in mid-February. There were about a dozen and half people in the theater; there was at least one other male in the audience.

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