Four Winners and Four Disappointments from the 2023 Oscar Nominations
On today's big announcements.
This morning the Oscar nominations for the 95th annual Academy Awards were announced (see a full list here). The Oscars are about recognizing the best in movies and there’s a lot of immense talent out there. So rather than provide my thoughts on “winners and losers” (“losers” feels too harsh!), here are my thoughts on the “winners and disappointments” of this year’s nominations:
WINNER: Everything Everywhere All At Once - This was my number 1 film of 2022, but it’s incredibly rare that my tastes will align with those of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Everything Everywhere All At Once scored 11 nominations, the most out of any film, including Best Picture, Best Directing, and multiple Best Acting categories. I’m so excited that Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan got nominated, but I’m particularly heartened that Stephanie Hsu’s work was also recognized (she’s one of the film’s MVPs). The big news here is that the people in Hollywood took a look at this story of a Chinese immigrant family (involved in an epic battle over good and evil in the multiverse) and bestowed it some recognition. That’s a big deal.
DISAPPOINTMENT: The Woman King gets completely shut out - I didn’t love The Woman King as much as most critics but what’s undeniable is that Viola Davis is a force of nature in the film. Davis trained like hell to play Nanisca in the film and her performance aptly balances fierceness and vulnerability. It’s sad that the film didn’t get any love, even in technical categories.
WINNER: The sheer quantity of movies getting nominations - This year, the Academy spread the love around, nominating a diverse set of films of varying artistic and box office success. With the exception of Everything Everywhere All At Once, very few films seem like an undisputed front runner. All Quiet on the Western Front and The Banshees of Inisherin each got nine nominations. Elvis, which has grossed almost $300MM worldwide, got eight nominations while The Fabelmans, which has grossed around $20MM, got seven. I’m most happy that Tár still got a lot of love (total box office: $6.3MM), landing six nominations. And Black Panther: Wakanda Forever got five nominations, including one for Angela Bassett, who becomes the first person to ever be nominated in an acting category for a Marvel film (she was the highlight of that film, imho). On that note…
DISAPPOINTMENT: The highest grossing film of 2022 only got five nominations - Top Gun: Maverick got five Oscar nominations but notably did not get a nomination in the categories of Best Directing (Joseph Kosinski) or Best Actor (Tom Cruise). Cruise is obviously a complicated figure and has not been nominated for an acting Oscar in decades. But in a year where he relied on his old tricks to help keep an ailing industry alive and turned in a moving performance (playing a guy who relied on his old tricks to keep an ailing industry alive), it seemed like as opportune time as any to give him some recognition. I don’t think he’ll be getting nominated for his performance in Dead Reckoning next year, sadly.
WINNER: Movies that people have actually seen - I’m old enough to remember when movies like Titanic and Return of the King were nominated for Best Picture. It used to be that the Academy’s tastes aligned with those of the public, but in the past few years that’s become increasingly rare. Last year, only one of the film’s nominated could have even be considered a “hit” (Dune, which grossed $108MM domestically). This year, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water, and Elvis all got Best Picture nods. Popular movies are good again! That said…
DISAPPOINTMENT: Directors of movies people have seen get mostly shut out - It’s amazing to see the Daniels get nominated but other than that, the directing category didn’t recognize filmmakers like James Cameron, Joseph Kosinski, Gina Prince-Bythewood, or Baz Luhrmann. (Also, while I’m here: Kind of a bummer that Sarah Polley didn’t get nominated for Women Talking, another film that was also nominated for Best Picture). It continues to be weird to me that the Academy only allows five Best Director nominations but more than five for Best Picture. How does it think these films are getting made?
WINNER: Andrea Riseborough in To Leslie - To Leslie is a small indie drama available on VOD that few people know exist. But an unconventional Oscar campaign has propelled it from complete obscurity to a Best Actress nomination for Andrea Riseborough, driven largely by celebrities posting about the movie on their social media pages. Proof that you can tweet something into existence!
DISAPPOINTMENT: RRR gets almost completely shut out - Aside from a much-deserved nomination for best song, RRR got pretty much completely shut out this year. This is one of those rare films that literally brought people around the world together to celebrate the art of action cinema and male friendship. It is a blast to watch and it deserved more recognition here.
Other things that delighted me:
Triangle of Sadness got multiple nominations, including in Best Picture and Best Directing. It was my number 3 movie of 2022.
Bill Nighy scoring a Best Actor nod for his performance in Living. An understated, lovely performance in a great movie.
Hong Chau getting nominated for her performance in The Whale. Fraser’s return to Hollywood is most welcome but Chau is the best part of that film, imho.
All Quiet On The Western Front got nine nominations. It really is a tremendous film that couldn’t be more relevant and I hope more people check it out on Netflix.
The entire Best Animated category is full of bangers. Del Toro’s Pinnochio, Turning Red, Marcel The Shell with Shoes On, Puss In Boots: The Last Wish, and The Sea Beast. Every single one of them is worth your time.
QUESTION FOR YOU: What do you wish you’d seen more or less of at this year’s Oscar nominations?
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Stuff I’ve made
On Decoding TV, Christian Spicer and I recapped this week’s episode of The Last Of Us. Probably the most “videogame-like” episode so far out of the three I’ve seen, but still quite well done!
On The Filmcast, we reviewed John Hyams’ new movie Sick - a slasher film starts super fun and stylish, but somehow ends up being actively bad for society.
Dolly De Leon's performance in Triangle of Sadness was snubbed sadly (so close) and could have been a moment of triumph for Filipinos. Is it because the Best Supporting Actress category already has 2 Asians on them, or the fact that they already nominated a lot of Asians this year?
Truth: “It continues to be weird to me that the Academy only allows five Best Director nominations but more than five for Best Picture. How does it think these films are getting made?”