Special Issue #6: Winner's Circle 🥇
Looking Back at the 2023 Best Picture Nominees
The little gold men are ready, the envelopes are packed, and those who are dedicated to screening all the nominees are down to the wire. Welcome to Oscar weekend, folks!
We thought about sharing the Oscar narratives we’re watching, or the ballot selections we’ve made. But like the hosting gig, we’re feeling a bit nebulous at the moment. And, to be fair, we’ve already covered quite a few of the Oscar nominees. So in light of that, we’re giving everyone a few days to catch up on some of the Academy Awards coverage we’ve done already.
Maybe you missed them in your inboxes, or maybe you’re new here (oh look, a subscribe button!) But either way, we’ve got you covered. After this issue, we’ll be taking a little hiatus to rest and watch some more movies. And we’ll be back soon. But until then, here’s a refresher on our reviews of this year’s Best Picture Nominees. Enjoy!
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT
directed by: Edward Berger | written by: Edward Berger, Ian Stokell and Lesley Paterson
“At two-and-a-half hours, All Quiet doesn’t have the delicacy to carry its thoughts with the same subtle gradation as its color tinting. The latter is treated to highlight the blues of dying eyes and the muted lushness of green uniforms, finding a spectrum of war far more striking than most do. But with its changes to the story, All Quiet wants the story to be tragic in a very loud way, curdling the poignancy of the narrative itself.” -Zosha
written and directed by: James Cameron
“Avatar 2 has its more perverse pleasures (a movie with that runtime would have to) and against the odds, it’s the smaller beats of the epic movie that have stuck with me.” - Zosha
written and directed by: Martin McDonagh
“Delightfully, the movie seems to understand that while these two are pitted against each other, the impasse they find themselves in is one that’s created — even if that doesn’t make it invalid. Colm wants what he wants; Pádraic values are different. The hard part is that those things are intractable because Colm has decided they are, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong, nor does it make the fiddle compositions (also titled “The Banshees of Inisherin”) he’s crafting suddenly genius. The movie isn’t about creating the space for brilliance, just for expression.” -Zosha
directed by: Baz Luhrmann | written by: Baz Luhrmann, Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce and Jeremy Doner.
“It’s hard to be a lover of filmic excess without also being a Baz Luhrmann devotee. The enigmatic director has near-cornered the market on bombast, and Elvis his latest feature is no different. In fact, Elvis may be the most “Baz Luhrmann” Baz Luhrmann has ever been. And it’s hard to imagine there’s any way for him to top himself from here.” -Cate
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
written and directed by: The Daniels
“In the nihilistic world of EEAAO, life is the meaning you ascribe to it, the things you decide are worth fighting for. The multiverse is vast, and we are quite small. But in many ways, that story is just getting started. The grass may be greener on the other side, but that potential is always right here with you.” -Zosha
directed by: Steven Spielberg | written by: Steven Spielberg and Tony Kusher
“The Fabelmans is a movie about making The Fabelmans. It may seem counterintuitive, but the film is essentially a record of its own existence — a retelling of why Spielberg needed to create stories in the first place.” -Cate
written and directed by: Todd Fields
“Blanchett, as usual, brings both gravity and a kind of grace to her character — a quality that bolsters Lydia’s casual dismissal of the power dynamics that turn in her favor. And in the end, Tár is a masterwork that gives us a glimpse of the way these reckonings look from the other side of the table. Does the guilt consume them? Do they grasp to retain their cache? And finally, how does a person digest a reputational downfall of their own making? It’s a question the film meticulously explicates to marvelous effect.” -Cate
directed by: Joseph Kosinki | written by: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie
“Top Gun: Maverick may possibly be the most effective form of not-explicitly-state-sanctioned military propaganda many of us will have seen in our lifetimes so far. As commendable as it is as a demonstration of technically impressive filmmaking, it is still a story where the primary stakes hinge on figuring out the most effective way to bomb a foreign nation unprovoked. It reflects a fundamentally conservative and nationalistic worldview, and it is very nearly offensive to hang a man’s emotional arc on the devastation wrought by preemptive warfare.” -Cate
written and directed by: Ruben Östlund
“Ruben Östlund’s English language debut Triangle of Sadness is not a movie one enjoys. Instead, one tolerates that… questionable art still has the right to exist. The film is not enjoyable or fun, so much as it is an abruptly truncated and overambitious eat-the-rich satire. Or so it thinks. Filled to the brim with insufferable characters, this black comedy is more “black” than “comedy.” Here, the rich are so detestable that it’s not even fun to watch them get a taste of their own medicine.” -Cate
written and directed by: Sarah Polley
“Women Talking’s greatest strength is perhaps the source of its greatest critique: its message is valuable, so why is it so afraid of wrestling with its ambiguity? By the end, its characters have all taken a swing at the concept. One would think all those hits would leave the truth battered, misshapen — distinct. But in Women Talking all it serves to do is smooth down the thorny bits. While it calls itself an act of “radical female imagination,” it can’t imagine a world beyond gender essentialism collapsing under pressure. It has no hope for the necessary conversations that have to happen, and it has as much space for empathy as it has silence.” -Zosha
“In the end, it is optimism for a future free from gendered terrorism that guides their choice. Forgiveness is being demanded of them, but they all know that forgiveness must be freely given to be sincere and true. But ultimately, it’s a tragedy that women’s salvation only becomes possible in “an act of female imagination.” -Cate
Assorted Internet Detritus
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Zosha + Cate <3