The nominations for the 2023 Academy Awards have been announced, with 10 films vying for Best Picture. Everything everywhere at once led the way with a total of 11 nominations, with Banshees of Inisherin and Completely quiet on the west front close with 9 nominations each.
Take a look back at what CultureMap’s film critic Alex Bentley had to say about each of the nominees (listed below in alphabetical order) when they were originally released. This year’s Academy Awards will take place on Sunday, March 12.
Completely quiet on the west front (not reviewed)
The epic German anti-war film, which can be streamed on Netflix, has been gaining steam on the awards circuit in recent weeks, also earning 14 nominations for the British Academy film awards, the most among films nominated there. With nine Oscar nominations, it’s a serious contender to win not just international feature but also best picture, a la Parasite.
Avatar: The Way of Water
There is no doubt that everything in it was long overdue Avatar looks spectacular, from the Na’vi to the various animals in the world to the abundant water. But writer/director James Cameron has also used the high frame rate of 48 frames per second. second, giving everything a hyperreal look, which, at least for this critic, doesn’t make for a great viewing experience. Also, for a movie that is 3 hours and 12 minutes long, you would think that there would be plenty of time to devote to all aspects of the story, but somehow that is not the case. Although it is nominated for Best Picture, its best chances of winning lie in the other three technical nominations.
Banshees of Inisherin
Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, this film reunited him with his In Bruges stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson for one of the funniest films of the year, and also one of the saddest. The film is spectacular in its ordinary nature, with the story centering around Gleeson’s character ending his longtime friendship with Farrell’s character for seemingly no reason. All four lead actors – Farrell (Best Actor), Gleeson (Best Supporting Actor), Barry Keoghan (Best Supporting Actor) and Kerry Condon (Best Supporting Actress) – received nominations, with McDonagh nominated for both directing and writing, making this movie one of the favorites.
One of those love-it-or-hate-it movies, the latest from writer/director Baz Luhrmann didn’t hit the sweet spot for this critic, mostly because its focus was more on Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), and not Elvis ( Austin Butler) himself. That meant a lot more time for Hanks to deliver one of the worst performances of the year. Butler earned his Best Actor nomination as there are moments when he is absolutely electric. But there’s a reason six of its eight nominations are in technical categories—the story doesn’t live up to Butler’s performance.
Everything everywhere at once
At the other end of the spectrum from Elvis is Everything everywhere at once, a film that knew how to use its flashiness in much better ways. Featuring a stunning lead performance by Michelle Yeoh (who earned her first ever nomination), the return of 80s child star Ke Huy Quan (favored to win for Best Supporting Actor), and polar opposite performances by Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu (both nominated for Best Supporting Actress), the film was as wild and weird as it was emotional. With a few surprise nominations, including Best Musical Score and Best Song, it seems destined for many wins.
The Fabelman family
The most personal film ever from writer/director Steven Spielberg (nominated in both categories), The Fabelman family is a lightly fictionalized chronicle of Spielberg’s childhood, catching the filmmaking bug and enduring his parents’ dissolving marriage. With seven overall nominations, including Best Actress for Michelle Williams, a surprise Best Supporting Actor nomination for Judd Hirsch (who is in the film for less than 10 minutes), and another nomination for Best Score for the iconic John Williams (who now has 52 – !! – lifetime nominations), it would be unwise to rule out this film’s chances of winning the top prize.
If ever a movie was defined by its lead actor, this is it Warehouse, with a towering – and now Oscar-nominated – performance by Cate Blanchett as the world-renowned – but fictional – conductor Lydia Tár. The first film in 16 years from writer/director Todd Field (nominated in both categories), it’s notable for how much time it spends setting up Tár as a character. Although the story is set in the rarefied world of classical music, it has a down-to-earth nature that keeps it balanced. The film is nominated for a total of seven Oscars, but its best chance to win lies with Blanchett, who is the heavy favorite.
Top Gun: Maverick
My personal #1 film of the year, the long-running sequel to 1984’s Top Gun delivered everything you could want from a summer blockbuster and more. Although it essentially features the greatest hits from the original in a slightly repackaged fashion, it does so in spectacular fashion. While you’d expect its five nominations aside from Best Picture (which gives star Tom Cruise, who also served as producer, his first Oscar nomination in 24 years) to be technical, it was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, a indication that its history was equal to its visuals.
Triangle of Triangles (not reviewed)
A black comedy that takes aim at the ignorance of rich people, Triangle of Triangles is only nominated in three categories, but they are three big ones – best film, best director (Ruben Östlund) and best original screenplay (Östlund). Unlike some of the other films in this category, it wasn’t among the best-reviewed films of the year, but it’s clear that Östlund has his supporters in the writing and directing wing of the academy, so a win or two isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Although it was one of my top 10 movies of the year, Women speak is perhaps the least likely film among the 10 nominees to be in this category, as it only has one other nomination, Best Adapted Screenplay for writer/director Sarah Polley. Set almost entirely in a barn loft at a Mennonite compound as a group of women decide how to fight back against abusive men, it’s a true ensemble film, with no one actor really standing out among the others. Still, with award-winning actors such as Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley and Claire Foy in the lead, it deserves to be recognized among the best of the year.