Oscar nominations 2023
Niamh Cherrett gives a rundown of this year’s Oscar nominations, remarking on the award’s shocking lack of female directors
The Academy award’s fascination with films depicting real people, real-life narratives and movies about the making of cinema again rings true for this year’s choices. Unfortunately, however, there’s also been a few divisive decisions made, with accompanying controversy that has brought the debate to the Academy Awards’ future sustainability.
Beginning with the best picture nominations, The Fabelmans, TÁR, and Avatar: The Way Of Water are all films bound to be Oscar-worthy. The Fabelmans seems the most likely to win – a film perfectly crafted for the typical best picture, given the Guardian’s depiction of it as “Spielberg’s lavish love letter to cinema“. However, there are possible alternatives. All Quiet on the Western Front, a brutally violent German war film, and The Banshees of Inisherin, a heartbreakingly absurd tale of a grown man refusing to talk to his best friend, are high choices for me. Everything Everywhere All At Once, an insane multiverse film, including the two main characters depicted as rocks – yes, rocks – is a hopeful nominee. This remarkably crazy film poses an interesting alternative to the Fabelmans and will mark a positive modern shift for the Oscars if it wins.
Similarly, we have a few wild cards for leading actors and actresses. There are depictions of ‘real’ people, with Ana de Armas praised for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe and Austin Butler for his Elvis. But there were also some genuinely heart-wrenching performances. In The Banshees of Inisherin, Colin Farrell constructed a man truly alone in the world following the death of a donkey. Jamie Lee Curtis brought her career to a new absurd level, portraying a supernatural villain/income tax agent. But most notable is Brendan Fraser’s nomination for his performance in The Whale, in which he brought to the screen depression, obesity, and ultimate humanity – an Oscars rarity. The Oscars love a portrayal of a real-life person, but the Academy should appreciate Fraser’s superior level of genuine human emotion.
Significant controversies have overshadowed this year’s Oscars. The directing category, most obviously, has neglected to nominate any female directors.
Throughout the remaining categories, despite several of the best picture nominees dominating the awards, there were several highlights. For animated films, there was Guillermo Del Toro’s passion project, Pinocchio, to which he stated a personal connection to the character, and, interestingly, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish has emerged with a flood of critical praise. For documentaries, Navalny depicts Alexei Navalny as a stronghold of opposition against Putin, and Top Gun: Maverick, which has gained acclaim in the visual effects category. Finally, one exciting film in these awards is Babylon, which despite being Damien Chazelle’s directorial epic and fitting the stereotype of a film about film, has gained nominations for costume, production design, and music, but has yet to receive praise for its actual storytelling.
Running throughout these categories, however, remains that white, male-produced films largely dominate. Significant controversies have overshadowed this year’s Oscars. The directing category, most obviously, has neglected to nominate any female directors. While one may have initially excused this figure, given that only “seven women have been nominated for director in Oscars history“, a trend is being followed. Gina Prince-Bythewood’s, The Woman King, and Charlotte Wells’ Aftersun, to name a couple, have received high critical praise, yet their directors have been snubbed.
The retained lack of diversity, especially following the #OscarsSoWhite movement of 2015, has demonstrated a refusal of change
The Academy has likewise been criticised for having no Black actors in the lead acting category. The retained lack of diversity, especially following the #OscarsSoWhite movement of 2015, has demonstrated a refusal of change and has driven the urgent question of whether the Academy Awards have reached the outdated point. Following questions from the BBC, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences “have refused to comment upon these criticisms“, illustrating an apparent lack of progress that we should be able to expect in 2023. Several films nominated this year are brilliant, but they have been demeaned by people who refuse to urge change in the Academy and a film industry refusing to acknowledge the wealth of diversity and talent that contribute to it.