95th Academy Awards Nominations

Following on from my review of the 94th Academy Awards, here are my thoughts on the awards for the 2023 edition. 2022 was an outstanding year for exemplary movies, as reflected in the nominations.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

As I wrote in my September 2022 movie review summary, my favourite movie of the year was Everything Everywhere All At Once. The indie darling has wowed audiences and critics and picked up numerous awards already. The movie has eleven nominations at the Oscars. I think EEAAO will win the coveted Best Picture and Best Director, as well as acting awards for Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan.

I have seen all but two of the Best Picture nominations (Tár and Triangle of Sadness). The standouts for me, aside from EEAAO, were the darkly comedic The Banshees of Inisherin by Martin McDonagh, epic anti-war drama All Quiet on the Western Front, spectacular legacy sequel action movie Top Gun: Maverick and the visual feast of Avatar: The Way of Water, which is definitely favourite for Best Visual Effects.

Best Director

I think “The Daniels” will win the award for their sheer craziness on a shoestring budget. Martin McDonagh’s entry is quiet and confident. The legendary director and two-time Academy winner for Best Director Steven Speilberg produced another excellent movie but it is far from his best.

Best Actors

Brendan Fraser must be the favourite for Best Actor for his incredible portrayal in The Whale. Colin Farrell had an incredible year, with superb performances in a range of excellent movies; his facial expressions in The Banshees of Inisherin are a classic. Similarly, the comeback role by Ke Huy Quan in EEAAO makes him my choice for Best Supporting Actor.

For Best Actress, I haven't seen Cate Blanchett’s critically acclaimed performance in Tár. Andrea Riseborough was phenomenal in To Leslie and Ana de Armas disappeared into her role as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde, but the movie itself was a mess. Michelle Yeoh in EEAAO carried a complex role and is probably the favourite to take home the award. Jamie Lee Curtis was a lovely surprise in EEAAO, Hong Chau played a caring yet conflicted role in The Whale and Kerry Condon was a delight in The Banshees of Inisherin. Either of these women deserves the award for Best Supporting Actress.

Best Adapted Screenplay

For Best Adapted Screenplay I would probably choose All Quiet on the Western Front. It was the brutal portrayal of the first world war and how the trenches affect the characters.

Top Gun: Maverick would be a close second, with not only its epic action but also a heartful undercurrent, not only referencing the past (the original movie) but looking to the future.

Everyone is clearly having fun in Glass Onion, the Knives Out sequel, with oddball characters and a completely over-the-top murder mystery.

I thought Woman Talking had an interesting conflicted and complex story, but was a little bland.

Best Original Screenplay

Out of the three movies I have seen in this category, I think it is very close between The Banshees of Inisherin and Everything Everywhere All At Once. Two completely different movies; one is a chaotic and vibrant action movie with a science-fiction component and the other is a sedate dark comedy set on a remote Irish island in the 1920s, with a bizarre conflict between ex-friends.

The Fabelmans is a little stuffy and self-involved but was an interesting characterisation of the influence of movie-making.

Best Animated Feature Film

The animation feature film category has moved on from the dominance of Pixar. Their entry this year (Turning Red) is fine but was probably my fourth favourite. Puss In Boots is similar – an OK movie – with decent animation but nothing groundbreaking. Although it tried different animation styles in places, they didn't have the same impact as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse which broke the mould.

The Sea Beast was the best of the conventional Pixar-esque movies, with incredible scenery and interesting character design – it was my second favourite on the nominations.

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On was an unusual movie, a cute mix of stop-motion animation on top of a real-world setting with a documentary style. The limited character design gave a surprising amount of emotion.

However, it was Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio that was the stand-out in this category; it is a dark telling of the children's fairytale with beautifully designed sets and characters lovingly brought to life with intricate stop-motion.