The Academy Awards 2023—Final Recap

Last night was a stellar evening if you happen to have been involved in a verse-jumping, hot-dog fingered, raccoon-loving, everything bagel of a movie called Everything Everywhere All At Once. EEAAO ran the table with seven awards: Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing and the big one, Best Picture. They missed out on Best Score and Song (how could you deny Naatu Naatu after that dance number?) and All Quiet on the Western Front picked up most of the technical awards, as well as Best International Feature.

My ballot had fourteen categories (for space–most of the docs and shorts weren’t on there) and I predicted eleven correctly! That is a personal best for me, and I will brag as much as I want (it was pretty easy—I just voted EEAAO for everything).

Fun fact: The Best Directors known as The Daniels also directed the music video banger Turn Down for What, which is a pretty good precursor of what EEAAO was going to look like.

It was an uneventful night as far as misread winners or slap fights, but host Jimmy Kimmel did not pull his punches when talking about last year’s skirmish. The show moved quickly with several winners who may have had nostalgia on their side to tip the balance in their favor, but it made for heartwarming speeches. I’m sorry Angela Basset was sad about losing, but no one could deny Jamie Lee Curtis that Best Supporting Actress award. She is the No. 1 Nepo Baby of Hollywood and owns it!

Fun fact: When Ke Huy Quan won for Best Supporting Actor, he mentioned that his lawyer was a guy named Jeff Cohen who played Chunk when they were in The Goonies together!

Thanks for following along with flicksthatmakemesick. It had more readers this year than any time in its thirteen year history, and I’m sure that proves to Hollywood that the movies are back! (I wish someone had consulted with me about that paying for premium seats in theaters thing, though—that is a BAD idea.)

I was going to close with See You at the Movies! or I’ll Save You the Aisle Seat!, but those catch phrases belong to other critics. So I’ll just go with Don’t Throw Up on Your Neighbor’s Shoes!

That’s good advice no matter where you take it.

• • •

flicksthatmakemesick didn’t manage to see all ten Best Picture nominees, but I made it to eight and a half (sorry, Avatar, catch you on Freeform someday. Boy, will I feel like a dummy if you win Best Picture).

I thought it was a strong slate of nominees this year—
My Top Five Favorites were:

1. Everything Everywhere All At Once
2. The Banshees of Inersherin
3. Tar
4. Women Talking
5. Top Gun: Maverick

I believe that Everything Everywhere All At Once will take most of the top prizes, including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Best Supporting Actor; Colin Farrell (Banshees) for Best Actor; The Banshees of Inisherin for Original Screenplay and Women Talking for Adapted Screenplay. I am undecided as to some of the other awards, but will have my ballot completely filled in by Sunday night. Come back for the wrap up next week!

Here are the nominees:

*BPN23 The Banshees of Inisherin

At first viewing, The Banshees of Inisherin seems like a simple concept; on an island off the coast of Ireland, a spat develops between life-long pals when one man announces he doesn’t care to be friends with the other anymore. When the question, “Will you be coming to the pub?” is met with silence, an uneasy Pádraic (Colin Farrell) tries to figure out what he has done to offend his best friend Colm (Brendan Gleeson). The dialogue starts to resemble a Beckett play as the question is asked,

“Have you been rowing? Maybe he doesn’t like you anymore.”
“I don’t think we’ve been rowing.”
“It does sound like you’ve been rowing.”

As the very confused Pádraic tries to figure out what he has done to cause this schism, his ex-friend Colm gets more distraught every day and starts to threaten that he will cut off his own finger if Pádraic doesn’t stop talking to him. The film is filled with wonderful characters who each have an opinion about who is to blame for this friendship gone astray. 

But as this dark comedy progresses, it becomes more complex as the Irish Civil war rages across the water and the reasons for the war and what the two sides are fighting about becomes murky. Colm becomes more unhinged and actually starts mutilating his own hand; eventually his bizarre amputations lead to another tragedy that is unbearable for Pádraic, and the battle between the two of them drags on, as does the war across the water.

It doesn’t exactly sound like a comedy, but the movie is very funny (right up until ANOTHER untimely donkey demise—really, what is going on with Hollywood and these poor asses?) The performances are all terrific, and the Irish accents make every line entertaining. My favorite of the movie is, “Daddy will kill us if we wake him after he’s been wanking.” Fecking awesome.

The Popcorn Kernels of Truth give this film Three and Half Kernels; the half off is because of the donkey.

Categories: FlicksThatYouShouldPick, FlicksThatHaveADick (see above quote)

*BPN23 All Quiet on the Western Front

I tried to watch this, really, I did. Twice. But like some critics who hate being forced to see anything Marvel related, that’s the way I feel about war movies. I get that war is hell; I don’t need to see it graphically recreated on film. The buzz around this remake is getting louder every day, with many people marking it down as their choice for Best Picture. I feel like it’s a sure thing for Best International Feature, but there are so many other great nominees for Best Picture that I don’t think lightning will strike twice. (But what do I know —I had my hands over my eyes through most of the parts I watched.)

No Rating because I couldn’t watch enough of the film to rank it.

*BPN23 Triangle of Sadness

The most important thing I learned from this movie is that the Triangle of Sadness is a real thing. It is the area between your eyebrows and the top of the nose bridge, where all your stress and worry show up as deep wrinkles and emphasize negative facial expressions. During this film, my triangle developed dislike grooves within hate indentations and my negative facial expression turned into one that was infuriated and pissed off. I’m going to need Botox after watching this movie.

The film has been described as “a satirical black comedy”; I would say it’s a combination rip off of Below Deck meets Bridesmaids meets Castaway, with a touch of The White Lotus sprinkled over everything and a garnish of Parasite. I suggest you see all those other shows/films instead of watching this.

I’m not going to waste time going into any more detail, because there are nine other nominees that are a far better choice to watch than this film. I will let you know there is an extended vomit sequence in the middle of the film that starts to resemble the Mr. Creosote puke scene in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. That one was disgusting but funny; the one in Triangle of Sadness is just gross and goes on waaaay too long. flicksthatmakemesick is not amused.

I cannot believe that Ruben Ostend got the fifth Best Director nomination—it should have gone to Sarah Polley for Women Talking.

The Popcorn Kernels of Truth give this film Zero Kernels. The last time I hated a movie this much was another Best Picture nominee from 2022—Don’t Look Up. I will repeat what I said then: not only does this film not get a single, unpopped piece of corn, but the original  popcorn bucket is still upside down on the sticky floor of a theater with a greasy coating of fake butter topping, where rats will find it and lick up the yellow, viscous goo and it will get stuck to the roof of their mouths and they will never get rid of the taste. 

Also: I cannot believe there are TWO Best Picture nominees that have donkeys meeting untimely deaths. SMH.

Categories: FlicksThatYouShouldSkip, FlicksThatHaveADick (the director)

*BPN23 Elvis

It’s hard to imagine a more perfect combination than Baz Luhrmann, Las Vegas, drugs, a rampant gyrating pelvis and Elvis. All the elements for the typical flashy excess of the director’s films are in place, and for much of the film, Elvis’s dizzy ascent from simple country boy to the King of Rock’n’Roll is punctuated by swirling camera work, eye-popping candy colors and a heady mix of blues, gospel and country music that shows all the different influences on the singer. Every part of his life is presented at a breakneck pace, and Austin Butler shines as Elvis Presley, exuding a smoldering sexuality that seems confounding to him before he realizes how to use it.

It must have seemed like a good idea to have the film narrated by Colonel Tom Parker, Presley’s manager for his entire career. The Colonel started out in carnivals and his showy style as a huckster influenced Elvis’s career trajectory; Parker’s gambling addiction also kept the singer constantly working to the point of exhaustion. But the idea of having an unrecognizable Tom Hanks play Tom Parker in a fat suit with a bizarre accent was a distraction that I could not overlook. In profile, he looked a lot like The Penguin; all he needed was a monocle and a cigarette holder and he could have taken over for Burgess Meredith in the original Batman series. The accent was supposed to be Dutch, but every once in a while, Woody the Cowboy would come through and it took me out of the picture completely.

Austin Butler is nominated for Best Actor and has won the Golden Globe and a number of these awards in the past few weeks. I thought he was terrific in the first half of the film, but had trouble pulling off the aging, heavier singer in decline. I’m also not certain if this is a performance as much as an excellent impression. I think the Academy should come up with a new category where people are nominated separately for Best Performance of an Actual Person. Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland, Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn . . . there are quite a few winners who were able to capture the essence of someone very well known. But should this count against someone who is creating a character from scratch? Someone get Hollywood on the phone! I know they will want to hear from me!

The Popcorn Kernels of Truth gives this film Three Kernels. The dueling fat suits of Tom Hanks and Austin Butler in the last third of the extremely long film were a disappointment to me.


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Most of my classical music education comes from Bugs Bunny cartoons, so I was a bit apprehensive about Tár. Would my lack of knowledge about orchestras and musical prodigies mar my enjoyment of this film about the brilliant conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic who was accused of sexual harassment and eventually cancelled by the culture where she was worshiped and adored? Should I do my research and try to find out about the career of this insanely talented woman who was so admired by her musical colleagues but was cast out when she abused her power? Should I google Lydia Tár to see if she looked like Cate Blanchett?

The answer to these questions are: No, No and You Are a Dummy.

Having little to no education about the world of classical music did not affect my enjoyment of the film at all. It probably enhanced it, because I had no reason to doubt whether any of the facts about the genius of Tár were true. On the other hand, I watched the movie with a friend who is very knowledgeable about the subject, and she had a far more difficult time suspending her belief about some of the people mentioned and facts presented as real.

The concept of separating the behavior of the artist from the art itself is a question that has been debated more and more often as various icons of film and theater are routinely exposed for sexual misconduct that was ignored in the past because they were so famous. Most of these formerly admired artists have been men, so it was very interesting to see the reversal as Lydia Tár proved that power can corrupt regardless of gender.

As for the final question, Lydia Tár does not look like Cate Blanchett because she does not exist (clarification: Cate Blanchett is real. Lydia Tár is not). I think I can be excused for having a moment where I thought she was actually alive because there is a whole Twitter persona built around a fake Lydia Tár who has been actively tweeting. Even Leonard Bernstein’s estate got in on the joke (in the film, he was supposed to have been her mentor); the family confirmed that Lydia had been a teenage prodigy when she studied with Lenny.

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How can you believe anything when Leonard Bernstein’s children lie to you?!

On February 28, the fake @LydiaTarReal urged Chicagoans to vote in the mayoral election. We have entered the multiverse again, and it is whack, although the music is very beautiful.

The Popcorn Kernels of Truth give this film Three and a Half Kernels. Ridiculous online hijinks aside, I loved this movie. Cate Blanchett was marvelous and the ending was so bizarre that it almost fits into the whole weird fake Lydia thing that developed on Twitter.

Category: FlicksThatYouShouldPick

P.S. As a graphic designer, I would like to compliment the designer who made this poster. It is absolutely gorgeous and communicates everything you need to know about the movie. This Lydia Tár is REAL.

*BPN23 The Fablemans

I knew enough not to expect aliens or dinosaurs from Stephen Spielberg’s biopic, but I was hoping there might be at least a shark or a Devil’s Tower made of mashed potatoes. The Fablemans takes the director’s own life story and makes it his most personal film yet, although his earlier works such as E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind have always drawn on elements of his background for plot points. Spielberg had this to say about the movie he was writing and directing:

“I started seriously thinking, if I had to make one movie I haven’t made yet, something that I really want to do on a very personally atomic level, what would that be? And there was only one story I really wanted to tell . . . which is, when does a young person in a family start to see his parents as human beings?”

He had a lot of interesting background material, from his obsession with filming train crashes and trying to create feature length films with a Super8 camera in order to win a Boy Scout badge. His mother (Michele Williams) is quirky and dramatic and supports his love of filmmaking—she urges him to pursue his passion; while his father (Paul Dano) is the complete opposite and feels his son’s hobby need to be left behind so that he can focus on school and the future. His father works on the first computers being developed by IBM, and the family home it littered with broken television sets that he plans on repairing. It’s a nice touch, and apparently the production design was meticulously researched so that the family home and all the props and details were exact replicas of where the actual Spielbergs lived.

I’m a huge fan of Spielberg’s movies and was greatly anticipating this one, yet this depiction of his childhood and broken family was a big letdown for me. It seemed almost too ordinary, with the complicated, artistic mother and the silent dad who stands by the wayside and watches her have an affair with his best friend. The movie felt like it was two separate films; the first half with young Sammy as the family moved around and he explored his love of film was engaging and had some fine moments. But once Sammy has moved to California and become a teenager, it felt like it suddenly it turned into American Graffiti with cliché moments of school bullies and first love. There is one scene where Judd Hirsch as his Great Uncle Boris comes for a funeral and berates the young man about what you must sacrifice for art even though it may not be what his family wants. Hirsch chews up the scenery and expounds on his theories, but the scene feels over the top in comparison to the rest of the movie. 

I didn’t feel any of the glow I usually get from one of Spielberg’s movies until the very last scene; Sammy is allowed to meet director John Ford in his office (a quick, wonderful performance by David Lynch), and Ford lectures him on why the horizon location can make or break a film. It’s only when the line is at the bottom of the shot that it gets interesting. As Sammy walks away from the meeting, the final medium shot of the film has a nifty camera adjustment where it breaks the fourth wall and moves the horizon line down. That final moment made the film for me—I wish the rest of the movie had made the same adjustment.

The Popcorn Kernels of Truth give this film Two Kernels. Maybe wait until June when the next Indiana Jones film comes out.

Category: FlicksThatDidn’tClick

*BPN23 Women Talking

When the lights came up in the theater where I had just seen Women Talking, I turned to my friends and said, “Just give them all the fucking awards right now.” The three of us sat there stunned by the story that had just unfolded in front of us, blown away by the simplicity of a film that dares to put eight women in a hayloft and just let them talk to each other.

Sadly, the Academy did not seem to be of the same mindset as I was, nominating Women Talking for only two awards. Fortunately, one of those was for Best Picture, but how Sarah Polley did not get nominated for Best Director for this remarkable film is certainly reinforced by the title of one of the nominated animated shorts: My Year of Dicks. All the Best Director nominees this year are male.

The film is based on a true story of a Mennonite colony where many of the women would awake from a night of uneasy dreams to find themselves bruised and bloody and somehow diseased or pregnant. The cult leaders blamed the women, saying it was their “female imaginations” or worse, that they had somehow seduced the devil to abuse them. The truth is finally revealed when one young girl is able to stay awake long enough to reveal that it was the men in the clan who were dosing the women with cow tranquilizer and then repeatedly raping them; they were attacking their own sisters and wives. The men are arrested and jailed.

As the elders go to town to bail out the rapists, the women gather to discuss their options. They decide they have three choices: 1) They can stay, forgive the rapists and do nothing else; 2) They can stay and fight; 3) They can leave. Leaving is complicated by the fact that the women in the community have never been educated. None of them can read and they have no actual idea of where they are; none of them has ever seen a map. There is one male in the film, a former clan member who was excommunicated years ago but has returned to teach the boys how to read. He is in love with one of the women and takes the minutes of the meetings so there will be a record of their story.

The movie is exactly what its title states—women talking; about injustice, about faith; about revenge. A list of Pros and Cons is drawn up as they debate which option to choose, and whether boys of thirteen and fourteen have already been indoctrinated into the clan male way of behaving. The conversation is spirited and intense; these women may not have been taught to read, but they still know how to think. There are some lighter moments involving a couple of horses called Ruth and Cheryl who provide some much-needed comedy relief from the tension.

There were a lot of jokes going around on Twitter when Women Talking came out; that the makers could not have picked a worse title if they wanted men to actually see this movie. It’s an easy take; I wouldn’t be surprised if it shows up in the Jimmy Kimmel monologue on Oscar night. But it’s a shame that a movie this good —this smart—probably won’t be seen by half the population. 

The Popcorn Kernels of Truth give this film Three and one half Kernels. It is powerful and moving and infuriating; it only lost the half kernel because it is very dark—not in content, but in lighting. I sometimes found it hard to figure out which woman was talking (although it’s pretty dark in content, too!)

Categories: FlicksThatYouShouldPick, FlicksThatHaveADick (all the unseen men fit in this category)

*BPN23 Everything Everywhere All at Once

I do not know how to write this review.

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There is a lot to discuss about Everything Everywhere All at Once, but if I try to describe this film, it will come out as a garbled stream of references that will make no sense at all when taken out of context. They also make no sense when taken in context or when watched in the movie, but here are a few of them anyway: ChapStick snacking, dueling dildos, manipulative raccoons, hot dog fingers, stick-on googly eyes and an Everything bagel that may represent much more than a delicious carb.

Everything Everywhere All at Once is an apt title for a movie that combines time jumping, Kung Fu and the IRS. It feels like it jumped right through the wall of the multiplex into the theater where Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is playing, although the Marvel multiverses tend to be shinier with lots of sharp edges. (The multiverse is real, right? Because how else could there possibly be this many movies made lately about how life feels like we are splintering into tiny pieces and longing for a way to connect the dots, or to each other?) The various sites in EEAaO look like Mad Max:Thunderdome merged with the stuff ET built out of Eliot’s closet, which is pretty much what I suspect the future will look like, only with more rain.

The film is described as a science fiction comedy, but this is no Buckaroo Banzai. The real life segments of Michele Yeoh’s character Evelyn are so depressing that one can understand why her mind starts to splinter and the jumping into other versions of herself seem so appealing. She becomes a Kung-Fu expert, an opera diva and a movie star. In one of the funniest segments, she verse-jumps into the persona of a Benihana type cook, working along side another chef who has a raccoon under his toque that is manipulating his movements in a vaguely familiar way. You can’t help but wonder if the producers will be sued by Disney or if the internet will simply write another musical about it. There is also the aforementioned Everything bagel that is a black hole-ish type of metaphor that represents nihilism or depression or is a stand-in for the title of the film. Hard to be sure.

The cast is wonderful, full of actors who are vaguely familiar but will make you face palm when you realize who they are. Michele Yeoh has been famous and amazing since western audiences first saw her in Tomorrow Never Dies and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; I knew I had seen Stephanie Hsu somewhere but it took me a minute to place her as Joel’s new flame, Mai, in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Jamie Lee Curtis is almost unrecognizable in a performance that is so lacking in vanity that she has become the face of the IRS to me now if I ever get audited. But the actor who totally stumped me was Ke Huy Quan, until I finally remembered him as the kid guide Short Round in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom! And Data in The Goonies! The guy has a sterling resume.

That the film’s ultimate message comes out clearly in the midst of all this chaos is quite an achievement. It verse-jumps through your emotions as quickly as Evelyn does personas. I found myself thinking that the words to describe this are similar to life as we have experienced it the past few years; unsteady, fractured, unexpectedly funny, terrifying, and as confusing as an IRS audit. Maybe we just need to stick some googly eyes on the scary parts and simply keeping holding on to each other.

The Popcorn Kernels of Truth give this film the score of One Perfect Popped Corn. This is the first movie that has received this ranking in the new flicksthatmakemesick system, and I will fight anyone who wants to try to talk me out of it. I found this film to be transcendent and have not stopped thinking about it since I saw it. Other people who have offered their opinions of “Yeah, I thought it was pretty good, too, but not really life-changing” are incorrect.

Categories: FlicksThatYouShouldPick, FlicksThatHaveADick (two, actually, in latex)

*BPN23 Top Gun: Maverick

I once worked in a small department of six people that was isolated from the rest of a large corporation; because no one could hear us (or find us, for that matter), we played records all day long on an old phonograph with a tinny speaker. Our music selections came from a few boxes of vinyl left over from the 80s that had been donated from someone’s basement. 

We had several favorites—Flashdance, Saturday Night Fever, Oklahoma!—but the one that got played almost every day was the soundtrack from Top Gun. For reasons I can no longer remember, we all took nicknames from the film. I am proud to say that I was Maverick; although I bear absolutely no resemblance to Tom Cruise, I liked to think that I could fly an airplane upside down if I absolutely had to. Also, last person to pick ended up as Goose.

Sitting in the audience for Top Gun: Maverick and hearing those first twangy eight notes of the Top Gun Anthem, I was immediately transported back to a time when toxic masculinity was fun and a skintight white t-shirt was all you needed to make a girl swoon. The original movie wasn’t really that good, but oh, that shirtless volleyball game.

I’ve read a few reviews that have mentioned you don’t need to have seen the original 1986 Top Gun to be able to appreciate the new one, but I disagree. If you’re there for the airplane fight sequences, you’ll enjoy it because they are spectacular; however, how can you understand the complicated relationship between Maverick and Rooster without knowing how Goose died? Or get a lump in your throat when Iceman finally shows up, remembering how cocky he always was?; or recognize the parallels between the sunset football game and the shirtless volleyball on the beach? Or understand that of course Tom Cruise doesn’t wear a helmet when he rides his motorcycle because he wouldn’t be Tom Cruise if he had helmet hair.

This is about as nostalgic a summer movie as there is; completely escapist and fun, filled with beloved characters who have aged far better (or have better plastic surgeons) than we have. Flight sequences are thrilling and inexplicably did not make me nauseous, even though there was a lot of swooping in loops and g-forces contorting faces. 

I should probably note that the Hollywood patriarchy is in full macho mode here, erasing the Kelly Willis and Meg Ryan roles from the original and giving Maverick a new girlfriend and an ethnically ambiguous female pilot; this film would definitely NOT pass the Bechdel test. Also interesting that they never name what country is supposed to be the villain here. It is much more convenient for global film distribution if you’re not offending China or Russia or whoever might have a hidden stash of nuclear weapons. 

But somedays I’m too tired to protest and just want to give in to airplanes and cute boys and popcorn and forgetting that the world is blowing up around us. I know, I know—I’m a bad feminist and Tom Cruise is a Scientologist and I’m a terrible pacifist for supporting this love letter to the military complex. Just give me this two hours and eleven minutes of the skintight white T-shirts and I swear I will do better next time.

The Popcorn Kernels of Truth give this film Three Kernels. I may need to create a new category called GuiltyPleasures.

Categories: FlicksThatYouShouldPick, FlicksIWantToLick