OK, so last month I set out to watch all the Academy Award best pic nominees and I made it through much of the list, which is actually kind of a coup for me. I finished a few this weekend and so am landing my thoughts and predictions below.
(Frances McDormand, Claire Foye, Rooney Mara, and so many more fantastic actors)
Ironically, I watched 'Women Talking' on mute. I started watching it and got pulled away into family stuff, but I was so captivated by it, that I couldn't stop...so I watched it on my phone with subtitles while my family chaos'd around me. The energy and power of the piece came through on my tiny screen and without any sound, but I will watch it again (and again) on a real screen listening to the actors' perform the shit out of a gorgeous script.
This movie tells an extremely heavy story in the MOST hopeful and revolutionary way.
The tale is as old as time- men abusing women and girls and telling them they better get over it if they want access to safety and God. It's told with such power and tenderness, it didn't make me feel helpless or furious. It didn't even particularly make me mad at men (I STAY mad at men), but it did remind me of the wisdom and potential power of women in assembly.
It is loosely based on a story of women and girls in a tight knit, conservative, religious community Bolivia who were attacked by their men with cow tranquilizers and raped and beaten at night while they slept. In this movie, as in the real story, the accounts of the women were dismissed as hysterical, satanic, hormonal, attention-seeking, etc. In the film, set in an American Mennonite community in 2010, a man was just caught in the act and he outed his co-predators. The other men all banded together to support the perps with the exception of the school teacher, a "failed farmer" who was ostracized by the other men because of the wild ideas of freedom and women's rights and education that had been passed down by his mom, who had been forced out of the community years before.
The women have a democratic process to decide if they should leave, stay and fight, or stay and forgive. They have two days to decide before the men return from bailing out the perps and they'll be expected to get over it. None of them were ever allowed to learn to read or write, but they find a way to vote and then to hold intense and fair discourse- with the school teacher taking minutes.
I won't give away anymore other than to say that this film is an absolute master class in communication, exploring human dignity, faith, rights and responsibilities, privilege and power, and the divinity of women gathering to lead. (I couldn't help but think that this is blue prints for how we'll eventually have to deal with the gun issue in America- finally we women will be sick enough of men killing our kids that we'll band together and fucking fix it, right?)
This film offers so much. I absolutely recommend that everyone see it, and, AGAIN, even though it's a drama about horrible crimes and violations, it's joyful and liberating, unifying, and challenging in so many good ways. It made me feel so THANKFUL that I'm a woman.
-Meh. This is like a less-thrilling 'Parasite.' It's satire on class relations and who really has power based on circumstance, etc. I found it pretty tedious. There's rich people and models on a cruise and a lot of shit goes down, but I just didn't care about any of it or connect with any of the characters. There are some funny moments, but just...meh.
This is a Steven Spielberg movie about the making of Steven Spielberg. His childhood in New Jersey-->Arizona-->California, his love of movies from a young age, his cool, creative mom (played with such vitality by Michelle Williams) and smart, sweet dad (played by Paul Dano- not sure I'm ready to see people of my vintage play fathers/grandfathers but ANYWAY), the antisemitism he encountered, the high school parties and crushes and the deterioration of his parents' marriage...it's a nice film. Has a Forrest Gump vibe. Totally could have been a made-for-TV kinda thing, but this was fine, too. Watching it doesn't heal or harm anything.
One I gave up on because I was bored:
-All Quiet on the Western Front- I tried. I really did. Like over three different nights. I just didn't feel anything and kept falling asleep. War movies are boring and simultaneously traumatic for me and I just don't like the genre. This might be a good one of it, I'm not a good judge. I got about halfway through and all the decorated people were talking forever in a fancy room and I gave up.
-The Banshees of Inisherin
-Everything, Everywhere, All at Once
Ones I didn't see:
-Tár - I totally will- I love Cate Blanchett and it sounds like it has some Whiplash and Mozart in the Jungle energy- both which I really enjoyed.
-Top Gun Maverick - probably won't see because it sounds like American military propaganda and I don't have nostalgia for the '80s
Ok....so my predictions/hopes for the winners:
Best picture- Everything, Everywhere, All at Once- this movie is super cool and SAID some great things, so I'd be happy with it winning. (I'd love it if Women Talking won but I'd be shocked if it did- it's smaller, quieter, less flambuoyant and glamorous- none of the actors were nom'd for awards, for example, which sucks)
Best actor- I didn't see all the films that had nominated actors, so might be missing some fab performances, but I was blown away by COLIN FARRELL in The Banshees of Inisherin. Seems most likely that Brendan Fraser will win for The Whale, though, based on the press.
Best Supporting actor- same for not having seen them all, but my vote would be KE HUY QUAN, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Actress- this is hard. I'd be happy with any of them, but I especially couldn't take my eyes off of MICHELLE WILLIAMS in The Fabelmans
Best Supporting Actress- I held my breath every time ANGELA BASSETT was on in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. She's such embodied power and grace and makes everything seem so effortless.
Ok...that's all I have the attention span for but it was fun seeing this huge variety of movies. Overall I'm feeling kinda hopeful about humans and art after this year.