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Oscar Nominations 2023 Thoughts



The Oscar nominations for the films of 2022 are out. Overall, it’s been a pretty good year; audiences of all ages, ethnicities and tastes returned to the cinema, there’s been an abundance of riches when it comes to memorable performances, and after three years of mostly remote interactions, we’re back to ‘in person’ movie events.

As ever, the nominations have engendered strong opinions and debate online, with people grumbling if their favourite didn’t make the cut or being ecstatic if they did. Awards are given out by voters who are, of course, entitled to have an opinion different to our own. There are no real ‘snubs’ -I  doubt that groups of voters in a professional guild get together and decide that they will deliberately ignore a good film or performance for some nefarious reason. It’s just a matter of personal taste. 

So, on that basis, here are some of my thoughts on the big six ‘show’ nominations. Some of you will firmly agree with me, some of you will strongly disagree, and most will read my opinion and move on.

I’m pleased to see Top Gun: Maverick in the Best Picture list. Its box office has been phenomenal; it brought older people who remember the original into the cinema and drew new audiences who only know Tom Cruise as a name. It’s exhilarating entertainment with a capital E, and the public craves that. It’s why they’ve responded to the film in their millions. It won’t win the Oscar, but I firmly believe that it and Elvis are the only two films from 2022 that people will still be watching in 10/20 years’ time. The harsh truth is that many Oscar nominees barely see an audience six months after the ceremony, let alone six years.

I found Women Talking utterly compelling, exquisitely written and acted, and I’m delighted to see it make the best picture list. The fact that it doesn’t have any acting nominations is incomprehensible. Jessie Buckley and Claire Foy deserved supporting actress nods; they are immense in their respective roles.

I loved, absolutely, unapologetically, loved the Elvis movie. The trailer in February 2022 gave me goosebumps. At the Cannes Film Festival in May, the huge billboard near the iconic Carlton Hotel drew my attention each day as I passed it. When, on the second day of its UK release, I met people at the cinema who had seen it the day before and were back to see it again, I knew the film would connect on a high emotional level with audiences. I was right. People on social media and in real life speak of how they’ve seen it 10, 20, or 30 times! I understand why. It’s the only film of the past year that has stayed with me for months after I first saw it. No cabal of Internet critics is going to convince me it doesn’t deserve its place on the best picture list. Like Top Gun, it won’t win, but it’s already won at the box office and its place in many people’s hearts.

I saw Everything Everywhere All At Once on the plane to LA. Perhaps I was not in the right mood. Perhaps the film didn’t quite go with those weird little snacks that you only get on long-haul flights. Perhaps I needed to see it on the big screen, but I couldn’t wait for it to finish. I say that as someone who is delighted that the mesmerising Michelle Yeoh is finally getting her due. I think it will take the top prize, and despite my meh feelings about it, I don’t have a problem with that. 

Yeoh is tipped to give Cate Blanchett a run for her money for the Lead Actress trophy (she may snag the SAG award). Still, Blanchett’s portrayal of the fictional conductor Lydia Tár is a performance for the ages and one that drama students will be studying for years to come. I believe Blanchett will be taking her third gold man home to Australia. Now, if only she could stop giving those cringeworthy speeches. I’m a huge fan, but her acceptance speeches have been to try hard, as if she’s desperate to show she’s not entitled to a win because of who and what she is. Cate, chill. You are magnificent, embrace it and enjoy the ride!

Blonde was a deeply polarising film. Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe also split opinion. I found it a disappointingly limp, doom-laden performance devoid of any of the alluring charm and astonishing sexual charisma the real Monroe possessed. But De Armas has turned up in all the major awards lists, and this nomination will undoubtedly boost her career in the future. 

I think the absence of Viola Davis from the nominees’ list is surprising. She is a towering presence in The Woman King.

I believe Ke Huy Quan has Best Supporting Actor in the bag. I would give it to Barry Keoghan for his heart-wrenching turn in The Banshees of Inisherin, but he, his co-star, and fellow nominee in the same category, Brendan Gleeson, are going to cancel each other out.

Angela Bassett has the momentum for Best Supporting Actress. She is a veteran of the industry and did a good job as Tina Turner in the biopic, What’s Love Got To Do With It, and the industry may feel she is due this accolade. 

The Best Actor category is a tight, three-horse race at this point. A clearer picture may emerge after the SAG awards and the BAFTAs, but it might still go to the wire. I’ve made it clear in past articles that I think Austin Butler deserves it. Whether singing, moving, emoting as Elvis Presley, or just taking on the swagger of an icon, I believe he embodied the king for 2 hours and 40 minutes. Good as they each were, I was never convinced that Rami Malek was Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody or that Taron Egerton was Elton John in Rocketman. I was always aware I was watching actors play the part. By contrast, for me, reality and portrayal blurred during two points in Elvis, particularly the ’68 comeback special and the Las Vegas routine. 

If Butler wins, the emotion will hit the auditorium roof, especially if Priscilla and Riley Keogh are in the audience representing the late Lisa Marie Presley. If Brendan Fraser takes it, that will also be a popular win. I don’t think it’s quite Farrell’s year but never say never. Paul Mescal won’t win, but his victory is in his nomination for a tiny, independent, low-budget film Aftersun and only his second major acting gig. What a story! Equally, what a success for Bill Nighy after an impressive and lengthy career but often in the shadows of other leads.

Best director is another tight one between Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans and Daniels for Everything Everywhere All At Once. On balance, I’m going with the Daniels, but if the best director and best film are divided, then Spielberg gets it. 

Best Picture

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Avatar: The Way of Water
  • The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Elvis
  • Everything Everywhere All At Once
  • The Fabelmans
  • Tár
  • Top Gun: Maverick
  • Triangle of Sadness
  • Women Talking

Best Actress

  • Cate Blanchett – Tár
  • Ana de Armas – Blonde
  • Andrea Riseborough – To Leslie
  • Michelle Williams – The Fabelmans
  • Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Actor

  • Austin Butler – Elvis
  • Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Brendan Fraser – The Whale
  • Paul Mescal – Aftersun
  • Bill Nighy – Living

Best Supporting Actress

  • Angela Bassett – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  • 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

Best Supporting Actor

  • 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

Best Director

  • Martin McDonagh – The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert – Everything Everywhere All at Once
  • Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans
  • Todd Field – Tár
  • Ruben Östlund – Triangle of Sadness

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