Monday, February 5, 2024

The Wheel Award for Excellence in Motion Pictures

Source: h/t DALL-E

The Academy Awards will be given out Sunday, March 10, 2024. I've seen all the nominees for Best Picture. That means my opinion means something. Right? Regardless, I've ranked the movies in order of my preference for "Best Picture."


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science uses proportional ranked choice voting (RCV) to ensure that the winner has broad support throughout the Academy members. I wish US political elections used something similar (see proportional voting). But that's for another post.

My personal ranked choice of the Oscar nominees is based on the grades I gave the movies immediately after seeing them. In case of ties, I ordered them by my judgment today. Note this is not my prediction of which movie will win (cough, Oppenheimer), but how I would vote, had I a vote.

The envelope please. The winner of "The Wheel Award for Excellence in Motion Pictures" goes to...


Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Oppenheimer (2023): Biopic of the "father of the atomic bomb." Morally conflicted, he developed the A-bomb to beat Hitler to it, but afterwards tried to put the genie back in the bottle. The era's anti-Commies are the ends-justify-the-means bad guys. Smart, compelling blend of history and science. A-

#OscarWorthy


Congratulations to the runners-up, in my ranked order:

 

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023): Based on a true-crime nonfiction book, this is a multi-faceted story, as large as the Osage murders themselves and as intimate as the marriage between Ernest (Leo DeCaprio) and Mollie (Lily Gladstone). Scorsese succeeds in it all. A-

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Barbie (2023): From great opening scene to brilliant closing joke, Greta Gerwig deftly balances the childhood joy of owning a doll (I presume) with the problematic associations that attached to that doll. An adult movie that raises themes worth exploring long after the credits roll. A-

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Poor Things (2023): Emma Stone plays a 19th century woman who grows from naively childish to experienced and worldly. Surreal sets give this quirky black comedy a fantasy feel. The subject (to say nothing of the sexually explicit scenes) will provoke conversation, with many not "getting it" and many finding it distasteful. A-

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Past Lives (2023): 12-yr-old girl comes to America with her family, leaving her childhood friend behind. 25 yrs and many life-changes later, they reunite in NY for one week. An immigrant's story and so a deeply American story. A story of Korean In-Yun, of destiny, of what-ifs. A-

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Anatomy of a Fall (2023): French. Could be titled Anatomy of a Marriage. It was troubled, but enough to murder? Was it an accident instead, or suicide? A courtroom drama where there's not enough evidence to know, so the audience has to read people, which puts a premium on fine acting. This movie has that. A-

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Maestro (2023): Biopic of Leonard Bernstein, whose talent and private life are too big to be stuffed into two hours. The story is compressed, exhausting, and a little schizophrenic. A ten-hour TV mini-series might have been a better fit. Carey Mulligan as his wife grounds the man wonderfully. A-

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Zone of Interest (2023): German. Within earshot of the horrors of Auschwitz, the commandant's family go about a happy, normal German life. For Rudolph, running a death camp is just a logistical challenge. For Hedwig, life is good. Both are indifferent and insensitive to what's happening next door. Chilling and cautionary. B+

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

American Fiction (2023): Satire about a black author named Monk fighting a stereotype of what's considered authentically black. Subplots dealing with his mother, his brother, and a romance provide counterpoints to the plots Monk is asked to write about. Does Monk change? Does anyone? B+

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Holdovers (2023): Paul Giamatti as a cranky, unliked teacher thrown together with an unlikable student. Eventually, they bond. A nice, old-fashioned movie, literally. Set in 1970, made to look like it was made in 1970, it was inspired by a movie from the 1930s. It felt like I saw this movie before, maybe several times. Not that there's anything wrong with that. C+

To see which movies should have received Best Picture nominations, read "Oscar Snubs".

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