Good evening everyone! Tonight I decided to do something a little different. I have been fortunate enough to see all 10 best picture nominees for the 2023 Academy Awards. So I thought it would be fun to share my personal ranking with you all! I know the awards aren’t for another month, but I want to share my thoughts! So please let me know in the comments whether or not you agree with my list! There will also be a poll where you can cast your vote for Best Picture!
If you had told me that Baz Luhrmann and Tom Hanks made an Elvis biopic that feels like a fever dream within a fever dream, I would have called you crazy! Of course, I know Luhrmann’s directing style, but Tom Hanks’ wild, borderline Disney villain performance takes it to a new level. Don’t even get me started on Austin Butler’s insane dedication to becoming Elvis Presley. He gives an, apparently, award-winning performance. While I believe he was great, other contenders in his same category gave better performances overall. All that said, there are moments that make me truly enjoy the film. The If I Can Dream scene helped to regain my interest in the film. Altogether, it was just a little too much for me.
Elvis follows the rise and fall of musical sensation Elvis Presley. First, we see how Elvis becomes the rock star we all know today. But he soon learns the price of fame. The scrutiny of the public, mixed with inner struggles, becomes impossible to ignore, and darkness is brought in. The film has been nominated for 8 Oscars, including Best Actor in a Leading Role for Austin Butler.
9. Avatar: The Way of Water
For years I refused to watch Avatar. I had seen moments of it when it first came out and decided I didn’t like it. For years I wore the badge of honor as “Only Person Who Hasn’t Seen Avatar” with immense pride. When I finally sat down to really watch it, I realized how wrong I was. It was great! So imagine my excitement when the first trailer for The Way Of Water dropped. The film did not disappoint, though it also did not impress. At least not to the same standards that the first one did. That’s not to say the film is bad, but it didn’t leave the same mark as the original. I am sad to say that I feel the only reason the film is nominated is because of the looks, length, and the acclaim from the original.
We are brought back to the world of Pandora. Years after Jake Sully chose to become one with the Na’vi people, he and Neytiri have created a family of their own. However, hostile forces soon force them to leave their home in search of safety. They find themselves among the Metkayina clan, a community more in tune with water than forests. Over time the community opens up to them, but a familiar evil may destroy their home yet again. The film has been nominated for 4 Oscars, including the well-deserved Best Achievement in Visual Effects award.
8. Triangle Of Sadness
It is no surprise to see this Palm D’Or winning film on the ballot. The biting social satire is a great dark comedy. It truly is a great combination of The White Lotus and Below Deck. I waited months to watch the film, and while it was disappointing, it just didn’t meet my expectations. I just thought that it was forgettable, aside from a stomach-churning scene about halfway through. The only reason this is higher on the list than the previous two is because I feel it better matches the tone of many Oscar winners.
A luxury cruise for the elite sounds like a dream. That is exactly what the guest of a small luxury liner think as they set sail. Our main “protagonists” are Carl and Yaya, two models in a strained relationship. Yaya flourishes in the industry while Carl struggles to find work. Their different statuses put a strain on their relationship. A vacation is a must. But things go topsy-turvy when their boat capsizes, and both staff and guests find themselves stranded on a remote island. Societal roles are flipped, and alliances are formed. The lives of each survivor is about to change forever. The film has been nominated for 3 Oscars, including Best Original Screenplay.
7. Women Talking
I had been looking forward to the film since first seeing the trailers. It did not disappoint! It is co-written and directed by Sarah Polley and is adapted from Miriam Toews’s novel of the same name. Toews also co-wrote the screenplay. The film is stunning. It takes a very head-on approach to how our society reacts to survivors of assault when they come forward. They are pushed away, gaslit, abused, and ultimately disrespected by everyone. Nobody listens. While there were flaws, including slower pacing, there is never a moment when the story isn’t clear with its intentions.
A colony of Protestants is being turned upside down. The men have been brutally attacking the women for years. This includes beatings and sexual assault. To make matters worse, the men have told them it was ghosts and the devil. Finally, a man is caught, and all the dominos fall. All the men leave the colony to assist the guilty parties as they are locked away. While they are away, the women confer to choose what they should do next. They are uneducated and unsure of what’s to come. All they know is they must take action. A handful of women are chosen to meet to make their choice. Do nothing. Stay and fight. Leave. The film has been nominated for 2 Oscars, including Best Adapted Screenplay.
6. Top Gun: Maverick
Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that Top Gun: Maverick would become one of the best films of the year. A few weeks ago, I decided to do a double feature as I had not seen either movie in the series. Maverick surpasses its predecessor in both story and quality. There is so much more heart behind the film. The character’s intentions and motivations are clear and deep. Rather than taking the route of wanting to earn acclaim, the characters have more of a redemption arc, pushing its quality to great heights.
Everyone’s favorite pilot, Maverick, is back. Thirty years after graduating from Top Gun, he is a test pilot for new and innovative aircrafts. Because of his reckless actions, he must return to Top Gun to help mentor a new batch of pilots with a nearly impossible mission. One of the many young pilots is Rooster, the son of Maverick’s old flying partner, Goose. Tensions begin to rise as the two face the past while trying to cooperate. The film has been nominated for 6 Oscars, including Best Original Song.
5. The Fabelmans
It is easy to go right with a Speilberg film. One that is semi-autobiographical is even better. Spielberg completely pours himself into the story, even stealing inspiration from his own life. It is clear to see that this was a passion project for the acclaimed director. But this is more an ode to cinema and storytelling than it is to his own life. The director takes beats from his own life to create a story about dreamers and the cost of pursuing dreams, not one about whole he was and who he became. It speaks to the artist in everyone.
A dream, by my own understanding, is another form of a wish. The wish to fly, to be rich, to be loved. Those of us who dare to dream have become known as dreamers. Our heads are stuck up in the clouds while those who cannot see what we do, try to bring us down to earth. Making the monotony manageable. But the secret I have found is that there can be both. Use those dreams to escape reality. That is exactly what the lead character Sam does throughout the film. He uses movie-making as a way to cope with and understand emotions and situations. Fear when witnessing a falsified train accident floods his mind until he must recreate it himself with a toy car and a train set. Once seeing his final result on film, his infatuation with movie-making becomes insatiable. This, along with his dream-loving mother, helps to fuel a lifelong passion. The film has been nominated for 7 Oscars, including Best Director.
4. All Quiet On The Western Front
I only just watched this film last night. I chose to see it in the theaters so that there would be no way for me to escape its clutches. The German film completely stunned me. That is both positive and negative in this situation. The effectiveness of the central message will stick with me for years to come. The soundtrack and cinematography, combined with the story’s dedication to pushing its message, no matter the cost, make it a great piece of cinema. All that said, it is an incredibly heavy film with few and fleeting moments of levity. This will push most viewers off of the film. I don’t blame you at all. There were moments my stomach even felt queasy. It is not an easy watch and should be viewed in a proper emotional state. Nevertheless, it is phenomenal.
Paul and the rest of his friends have just signed up to fight with the German army during World War One. The group excitedly makes their way to training, but when faced with the true brutality of war, their joy subsides. Paul is faced with death, loss, and how to survive when surrounded by tragedy. Ideas of anit-war and anti-violence are tossed around as he faces tragedy after tragedy. The film has been nominated for 9 Oscars, including Best International Feature Film.
TÁR explores the idea of power and the dangers that come when abused. But more on that later. The film is written and directed by Todd Field, who has made his return to the entertainment scene after taking a break following his 2006 film Little Children. He casts a spell on audiences as they are unable to pull themselves away from this tale of disaster. Cate Blanchett gives a career-best performance in the titular role. Her talent shines through as the highlight of the film. It is the closest thing to spellbinding I have seen from an actor in quite some time.
We find ourselves joining Lydia Tár as she is being interviewed in front of a large crowd. Lydia is a world-famous composer and conductor. As the conversation rolls on, we come to understand how truly remarkable Lydia’s career has been. Due to her immense talent and passion, her status has skyrocketed to an all-time high. Her next outing: a live recording of Mahler’s 5th Symphony. An apparent daunting task. One that will boost her own career to unprecedented levels. But just as she begins the journey, her self-destructive actions come back to tear her down. She is faced with hard truths and revelations as her power is stripped down and removed. The film has been nominated for 6 Oscars, including Best Actress in a Leading Role.
2. The Banshees Of Inisherin
This film really came out of the left field. I had no intention of enjoying it as much as I did. The commentary on friendship and the lengths we go to for others is captivating in Martin McDonagh’s pitch-black comedy. Farrel steals the show as the loyal yet oblivious Pádraic. His Oscar nomination is well deserved. He is completely believable as a man slowly moving toward the brink of losing his cool. One moment he will have you laughing; the next you’ll be questioning his intentions. It was truly a great ride!
Pádraic and Colm have been friends for years. That all ends when Colm decides he no longer enjoys Pádraic and his mundane persona. Pádraic is shocked by this, and refuses to believe it is the truth. His not-so-patient waiting turns violent when Colm offers up a violent idea. Yet Pádraic refuses to give in. By the time that the two come to a reasonable conclusion, irreparable damage to their livelihoods has taken its place. The film has been nominated for 9 Oscars, including Best Original Screenplay.
1. Everything Everywhere All At Once
I don’t think any other film could top this list. The genre-bending nature of the film is completely absorbing as it juggles the action of a science fiction film and the emotional depth of a family drama. Every cast member gives career-defining performances, which paid off as 4 of the leads have been nominated in the different acting categories. Who could have predicted that a film about laundry, taxes, family, trauma, and the multiverse would find its way to the top of many people’s best films list?
Evelyn Wang is over everything. She is stressed out by work; her husband is constantly bugging her; she can’t understand her adult daughter’s life; her father lives with her, and, the cherry on top, her family’s laundromat is being audited. She has made so many choices in pursuit of a good life. All of them have led her here. She, along with her husband Waymond and father, have come to the Auditor Of The Year award-winning officer Deirdre Beaubeuirdre for their audit meeting. But her world changes when Waymond begins acting strange in the elevator up. Things get extra mundane when he explains that Evelyn is the only one who can save the multiverse. What’s worse is her daughter, Joy, seems to be the one destroying it. The film has been nominated for 11 Oscars, including Best Actress in a Lead Role.
Thank you all so much for reading! I hope you all have a fantastic rest of your night/day!