Where are my fellow Oscar watchers at?
As a former-critic turned movie lover (it is my experience that the two cannot truly co-exist) I will watch pretty much whatever looks or sounds good to me. That being said, once awards season rolls around and nominations are out, I try very hard to watch the Best Picture nominees. (The exception is that I have a pretty low tolerance for extreme sex or gore) I just mentioned in my weekly Love Note that one thing I really love about this acclaimed list of films is often that there’s a depth to the films which carry a possibility of significant impact.
I thought I’d talk a little bit about this year’s Best Picture nominees as well as past nominees that I still carry because they deeply touched me:
All Quiet on the Western Front (Netflix) Visually stunning, but I couldn’t finish it. I’m not often a war movie fan (there have been a few) and this one was HEAVY. I love the heart behind the film, but it wasn’t for me.
Avatar: The Way of Water (theater) I took a pass. I’m sorry. My husband saw it and I’m claiming unity on this. I’ve seen the first one and it’s on my small list of most hated films ever. (That and Requiem for a Dream. IYKYK) I just couldn’t bring myself to sit in a theater that long. (It’s toooo long!!!!) If it had streamed before the awards, I would have watched it, but it didn’t.
Banshees of Inishirin (HBOmax & rentable) People seem to love or hate this film. I loved certain things about it, but for the most part, found it slow and pointless… until the end. The final dialogue at the end blew my mind a bit and I have probably thought about this film every day in the weeks since.
Elvis (HBOmax & rentable) Anyone who knows me knows I’m a major Baz fan! LOVE his work! (I will stan Baz Luhrman and David Lynch forever and ever) I really liked this movie. Being a lifelong lover of Elvis (and my clear love for Baz) I expected to love it, but I just didn’t. I did really like though… a lot. Austin Butler was amazing. Tom Hanks was incredible at being one of my most hated people ever.
Everything Everywhere All At Once (Paramount+ & rentable) Being a huge fan of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I was enamored by the EEAAO trailer the first time I saw it. My husband was less eager to see it, but come opening weekend I was settled in with my milk duds and ready to sink into what I knew would be an amazing cinematic ride. I had so underprepared myself! On March 12, 2022, I sat transfixed on a movie that blew my mind in all of the ways. For the first time in years, I wished I was still working as a critic because I wanted to say some really beautiful things about this movie that was unlike anything I had ever seen. Even though I have seen so many movies since (we watch A LOT of movies!) Everything Everywhere All At Once remains my favorite of this list and is, IMO, the clear winner.
The Fableman’s (theater & Rentable) While visually captivating, and really lovely, I wanted something more from this movie. As a self-proclaimed lover of memoir, this film stood in as a sort of moving fictionalized memoir from one of the best filmmakers of my lifetime. The Fablemans is worth the watch for that reason alone. Knowing more of Spielberg’s early life really impacted how I view him and his very large list of accomplishments. For me, the story behind the man was the best part about this film. Inspirational, for sure!
TAR (Peacock & rentable) This movie was raw, beautifully done, so powerful and subtle all woven into something which resonated for me. This film will likely stay with me for a long, long time.
Top Gun: Maverick (MGM+, Paramount+ & rentable) This movie was just fun! High energy, nostalgic (while also a FAR better film than it’s predecessor), and just a PERFECT summer weekend movie. Also, I’m still surprised it was nominated.
Triangle of Sadness (Hulu & Rentable) This trailer was BONKERS and it was my most dreaded watch, even over Avatar. This movie was fun. It was completely out there and funny, and weird… It is the sort of movie you see early and know it’s destined for the award circuit because it just has that indescribable thing that destines it as so… Did I love it? No. I did find it a fascinating character study on humanity though. Plus, it was a random and unexpectedly fun watch.
Women Talking (rentable) though the “true” story behind this film was pretty different in a lot of ways, it is still incredibly relevant to everyone. This film is beautiful. It is beautiful to look at, the words weave like poetry… The narrative monologues are the best I’ve heard in a film. The script is stunning. Performances are beyond amazing. For those who can stomach the topic (women being drugged, violently raped, and then made to believe they’re crazy) this film is a MUST WATCH. (It’s my second choice for winning and I believe the director was completely slighted. It’s ironic really, considering the plot of the film)
These are the films nominated in other categories which I really enjoyed or took something from.
The Batman (HBOmax & Rentable)
To Leslie (rentable) Amazing performances!
Here are ten recent-recentish films that really resonated with me, left me a bit better of a person (or at least more empathetic), or simply moved me deeply:
Tick Tick Boom
Sound of Metal
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood