With a glorious 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, Everything, Everywhere, at the Same Time will be the favorite to be anchored at the March 12 party. The question that lingers in the air, however, is: does anyone still care about the Oscars?
Well, yes and no. Of all film awards, the Oscar is still the most relevant. The Academy’s recognition carries commercial weight, which is essential in a season when the vast majority of productions failed to find audiences and went under at the box office.
However, the other side of the question leaves the scenario murky. The Oscars have long since lost their luster, lost their effect as a thermometer, if not in quality then in meaningfulness. Seeing an “Oscarwinning film” meant finding a unique work, a work that in some way shed light on a pop culture moment.
In a history of successes and failures, it’s undeniable to overlook the greatness of a film like The Godfather. Or “Thieves Syndicate”. “Operation France”. “Lawrence of Arabia”. “Lost in the Night”. “The silence of the Lambs”. “Titanic”! Works that stand the test of time. Productions that have shaped cinema. Signature films, timeless hits.
In recent years, however, the Oscars have lost that weight. Not that the statuette went to unworthy films. Perhaps a better word here is “forgetful.” I like “The Shape of Water”, I think “Birdman” is a triumph from the curve, and “Parasite” raised hopes that the Oscars are seeking a lost relevance.
But it’s hard to defend an award that only puts good films like “Argo” or “Spotlight”, like “The Artist” or “The King’s Speech” on its noblest pedestal. I’m not the biggest fan of “Moonlight,” but its artistic and social weight is undeniable. Now “Green Book” and “In the Rhythm of the Heart” as best picture are a bad joke.
Which brings us to this year’s party. Without hinting at hits or misses (where’s “RRR”?), the nominees indicate where to step in an uncertain ceremony. Likely to win the Oscar for best picture, Everything and Everywhere at Once is the perfect blueprint for where the academy can go next.
Daniels’ film is an independent project, produced by the flawless A24, with a modest budget and maximum creativity. It was a hit with audiences and loved by the industry, an effect made possible by the high spirits of Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis and Ke Huy Quan. It’s the right film at the right time, and its likely win won’t turn a nose up.
Other nominees show the fruits of greater internationalization among Academy members. If Germany’s Nothing New at the Front was an obvious choice, even with its surprising nine nominations, last year’s Canneswinning Triangle of Sadness is a bold and welcome move.
“Avatar: O Caminho da Água” and “Top Gun: Maverick” secured their place among the nominees because they represented cinema at its very essence, quality films that did their job of bringing audiences back to theaters. “Elvis” can be included in the same category, a worldwide success that does not hide the very peculiar handwriting of its director.
Completing the select group of Best Picture nominees are Between Women (a film absolutely no one has seen), The Fabelmans (which should guarantee Steven Spielberg’s third director’s Oscar), Inisherin’s Banshees and TÁR by Todd Feld. In a perfect world, this Cate Blanchettdirected drama would be the undisputed champion of this year’s ceremony.
It’s mature, powerful cinema that makes absolutely no compromises. A complex character leading a story about a polished personality submerged and eventually consumed by art. Regardless of the winner, TÁR is the 2023 Oscar film that will stand the test of time. It’s a start.