The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences recently announced the nominees for the 95th Academy Awards (2023 Oscars). Now that the dust has settled and the nominations have been secured, the campaigning has only just begun for this group of nominees.
Who will win the coveted prize of Best Actress? The five nominees encompass a literate drama about cancel culture (Tár), Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical movie about his formative years (The Fabelmans), a controversial take on silver screen icon Marilyn Monroe (Blonde), a sci-fi family drama (Everything Everywhere All at Once), and a quiet indie that showcases a chameleon-like actress (To Leslie).
For his first directorial feature film since 2006, Todd Field chronicled the saga of fictional composer and conductor Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) in Tár. The first female chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, she will soon record a symphony that will take her career to new heights.
But to put it in 2022 terms, “cancel culture” comes after Lydia as she scrambles to save her reputation. Blanchett is one of the finest actors working today, but her performance here exceeds anything she’s ever done. It’s a subtle, engrossing performance, one that quietly pulls you in and captivates you for nearly three hours.
In this adaptation of the Joyce Carol Oates book, Marilyn Monroe’s rise and fall to stardom is chronicled by director Andrew Dominik and lead star Ana de Armas. Blonde, shot in gorgeous black-and-white, explores one of pop culture’s leading icons and reveals the fragile woman behind the manufactured image.
While Blonde is the kind of movie either you love or hate, de Armas’s performance received universal praise. It’s easy to see why, as the actress becomes Marilyn Monroe, and undergoes one of the most stunning, and grueling, transformations in recent memory.
What happens after you hit it big? That’s the question the indie drama To Leslie asks and answers, as the movie follows a struggling single mother who, after winning the lottery, loses it all through bad decisions and drug addiction.
Riseborough has been one of the most underrated and unnoticed actresses working today due to her uncanny ability to submerge herself deeply into each new role she plays. That’s no different with To Leslie, as the British actress is entirely believable as a West Texas woman who is struggling to reclaim some of her past glory.
Whenever Steven Spielberg makes a movie, it’s appointment viewing. The legendary director got very personal with his latest film, The Fabelmans. Loosely based on Spielberg’s own life, The Fabelmans follows Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle), a teenage boy who dreams of becoming a filmmaker after watching The Greatest Show on Earth. Sammy is encouraged by his mother, Mitzi (Michelle Williams), to make films, while his father, Burt (Paul Dano), takes a more practical approach to his son’s life.
As Sammy’s family life becomes more dysfunctional, he uses films to explain and accept the reality of his situation. As Mitzi, Williams has the difficult task of playing her director’s mother, who both mystified and angered him. She succeeds largely because she never lets us forget the love she feels for Sammy and her desire to break out of her suburban shell.
The most unique film of the Best Picture nominees is Everything Everywhere All at Once. Michelle Yeoh stars as Evelyn Quan Wang, the owner of a family-run laundromat. An overworked Evelyn struggles to find joy in her marriage to Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) and clashes with her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), over her non-Chinese girlfriend. To add insult to injury, the laundromat is being audited by the IRS.
During a meeting with the IRS, an interdimensional rupture thrusts Evelyn into the spotlight as she must fight to save the multiverse. After decades in the movie industry (both in Asia and America), Yeoh finally gets a role that spotlights all of her talents: not just martial arts, but her gifts for drama and comedy as well. It’s a role that only she could play, and what she does with it is nothing short of amazing.
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