One of the most esteemed honors in the film business throughout the years has been the Academy Awards or the Oscars, especially in terms of popularity among the people, as they involve quite an amount of glitz and glamor. Although it needs to be clarified that the Oscars are primarily for English-language films and that, unlike Cannes, Venice, or Berlin Film Festivals, they are not international film awards, they do have a separate category for foreign films. Although there remain some path breaking moments, even in recent times, with the historic win of “Parasite” (2019), becoming the first foreign language film to bag the Best Film award, there has been a fair share of controversy regarding various decisions. This year also, even from the list of nominees, one may draw their own conclusions. But this list will try to rank all the best picture nominees, albeit from a very personal perspective. So, without any further delay, here is the list:
This Baz Luhrmann directorial at most, an average film with nothing noteworthy or exciting in it and can perfectly be termed as this year’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018), which, even after being quite a disappointing film, bagged quite a few Oscars (God knows how!). This film marks the sweet spot with the Academy, mostly because of their soft corner for these kinds of musical biopics, which are especially getting a boost due to their commercial success. Most probably among all the categories, “Elvis” remains the frontrunner for “Best Actor,” with Austin Butler winning awards at award shows that act like precursors to the Oscars, although there remain more Oscar-worthy performances even on the list of the nominees. Other than that, to top it all, the performance of Tom Hanks was definitely among his worst, with a very corny accent that seemed silly, if nothing else, just like the film itself, which is just a bloated mess. Even a film with a similar tone, like “The Weird Al Yankovic” (2022), would have been a better choice for the nomination.
9. Women talking
This Sarah Polley directorial pans out quite well in its thought-provoking messaging and the subject matter is handled very delicately and features some smooth writing. But purely from a cinematic aspect, without the importance and urgency of the messaging, it is just quite a decent film that doesn’t accomplish anything outstanding and may not stand the test of time. From a screenplay standpoint, the writing, along with the performances, remain one of the major pillars that “Women Talking” entirely depends upon, as the storytelling approach is heavily character and dialogue driven. Although “Women Talking” tried to make an interesting use of the ultra-widescreen aspect ratio and a pretty toned-down color palette, reflecting upon the mood and tonality, it falters to be something more, cinematically, and it leaves a banal feeling that could have benefited from a better direction.
8. Top Gun: Maverick
“Top Gun: Maverick” may be the best when it comes to showcasing air combat throughout the history of cinema, as there have been very few films that have managed this in such an effective and brilliant manner. Although this film is a sequel to the commercially successful and popular 1986 film “Top Gun,” and follows the story of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (played by Tom Cruise), it takes the franchise to different heights altogether, with a sequel that leaves its predecessor miles behind. Major credit should be given to the filmmaker Joseph Kosinski, who brilliantly made this possible through very meticulous control over his craft, especially in how he directed the exhilarating action sequences, which themselves are nothing short of breathtaking. Also, the film is a pure technical marvel and is expected to bag the majority of the technical awards. Other than that, “Top Gun: Maverick” acts out as the perfect summer blockbuster that manages to be a massive success story at the box office, that too showcasing the art of large-scale action-packed filmmaking and following a classical form of cinematic language, which in today’s times faces a dearth mainly due to the prevalence of one-dimensional CGI-bloated franchise films.
7. Avatar: The Way of Water
This took a hell of a lot of time to come out and marked the return of the Oscar-winning director, James Cameron, after a hiatus of around 13 years. The film “Avatar: The Way of Water” may miss the mark of being a perfect film, but viewed as an experience, this film ranks way higher than any other film from recent times. Just from the get-go, the film has an epic blockbuster written all over it with a brilliant display of technical prowess, and it is one that will become a blueprint for future films to refer to in terms of sheer scale and imagination. James Cameron’s execution of this magnificent vision itself deserves a major round of applause; the sheer audacity and the time he has invested can be seen in each and every frame of the film, which, if experienced in 3D and that too on an IMAX screen, can make one forget about all the other minor flaws and provides for a seamless, otherworldly experience that transports the viewers to the magical world created in a very detailed manner by Cameron.
6. The Fabelmans
“The Fabelmans” can be considered Steven Spielberg’s best film since the 2010s. This pans out as a typical sweet and warm film, quite reminiscent of Spielberg’s major body of work that has a sense of innocence along with tons of emotions associated with it. The film is also approached through a very intimate lens, as it is majorly inspired by the real life of the filmmaker and takes an autobiographical approach. It further helps one to delve deep into the psyche of the filmmaker himself and understand the thematic commonality that lies throughout Spielberg’s filmography. Other than being a very warm crowd-pleaser, it is also technically very sound from all cinematic departments, along with the legend himself at the directorial chair. So, it remains quite a pleasant watch with some fine performances from its ensemble cast of actors, including a harrowing portrayal of the filmmaker’s mother by Michelle Williams and an unexpected role carried out brilliantly by Seth Rogen (who is generally known for comedic roles rather than dramatic ones).
5. The Triangle Of Sadness
Despite the fact that “The Triangle of Sadness” won the coveted Palme d’Or at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, in the case of the Oscars, this is definitely the most unexpected nomination among all the others, and shockingly, have also managed to garnered another two nominations for the filmmaker Ruben Östlund, both in the categories of directing and writing. This film was also another treat to watch and was a great communal experience, especially at a film festival in a packed 1,000-seat theater. Östlund is brilliant in his way of handling the satirical elements of the film as he delivers a sharp critique of the class divide that is quite prominent throughout the world. “The Triangle of Sadness” also has one of the finest cinematic moments from 2022 that plays out as a pure laugh riot. Other than that, the film perfectly plays with the tonality of the narrative through the exploration of the various extremes of ideologies dangling from the right and left wings of the political spectrum.
4. The Banshees Of Inisherin
Martin McDonagh is, without an iota of doubt, among the finest writers among the contemporary batch of filmmakers, and this film is a testimony to that. “The Banshees of Inisherin” is definitely his best work since “In Bruges” (2008), interestingly featuring the same actor duo and showcasing the very absurd yet poignant style of McDonagh. This film revolves around two lifelong friends, one of whom suddenly ends their friendship without any warning or reason. This whimsical narrative is brilliantly fleshed out through excellent characterization and elevated by brilliant performances, especially Colin Farrell’s career-best performance. Also, the film showcases perfection in direction and is a brilliant and meditative take on friendship, loneliness, and longing, all of which are displayed in a highly intriguing manner with a fair share of odd and darkly comical moments.
3. All Quiet On The Western Front
This is the perfect example of how an anti-war film ought to be made. “All Quiet on the Western Front” is a hard-hitting take on the notions of bravado and valor one associates with war. Set against the backdrop of the First World War, the film sheds all the romanticism and glamor associated with the battlefield, instead showing a lifeless, bleak series of events with no light at the end of the tunnel and rather condemning war as a futile attempt that acts as a big blot on humanity, only leading to the loss of innocent lives and innocence. Each and every frame of “All Quiet on the Western Front” is just an expressionist painting, perfectly evoking the horrors of war with a brilliant performance from its cast and an outstanding command over the cinematic language by filmmaker Edward Berger.
2. Everything Everywhere All At Once
The film itself perfectly lives up to the name. It is a perfect blend of a variety of genres and, at the same time, manages to handle each and every moment in an outstanding way. It is also one of the most distinctive and original movies to come out recently. The directorial duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert should be given major credit for executing such a fresh and quirky idea into a massively engaging and entertaining film that, although it has complex layers, displays the beauty of simplicity and has an essence of warmth and tenderness. Although at its core, the film is a family drama; it has a whole host of other elements, from great action set-pieces to sci-fi elements to laugh-out-loud hilarious moments, along with one of the most poignant Wong Kar-waiesque romantic scenes and whatnot, all of which are executed with sheer brilliance. This is definitely one of the favorites to bag major awards, especially Best Film, and Best Director.
This film is filled with sheer kinetic energy, perfectly encapsulated by both the filmmaker Todd Field and the actress Cate Blanchett, who manages to hit each and every note perfectly and gives a simply flawless performance. So much so that one may even tend to forget that this is a fictional tale, but the cinematic brilliance of “Tár” lies in its ability to give life to a character that seems more real than even some films based on real-life figures. “Tár” is breathtakingly brilliant, and its intensity is on an altogether different level, with touches of brilliance displayed by each and every department of the film. This may prove to be another feather in the cap for Cate Blanchett, as she remains the frontrunner for the Best Actress Award, which would make it her third Oscar.
The above-mentioned list is made from my perspective, and one may or may not agree with the choices made (unless you’re an Elvis fan, in which case I disagree with you). But keeping all these aside, let us wait for March 12 and see who will have the final say on the awards night. But one should keep in mind that there remain quite a lot of great films that may not need an Oscar; rather, the most important thing is staying relevant with the passage of time.