Film Reviews

The 2023 Academy Award Best Picture Nominees, Ranked

Kit Sinclair

One very unqualified film critic gives their opinion on this year’s nominees for Hollywood’s greatest accolade. Everything Everywhere All At Once ended up taking home the Award on Sunday night but here is Kit Sinclair’s choices.

#10 – Elvis

A lot of people have described this movie as being akin to an overblown trailer, and I have yet to find a more accurate description. The editing style in this movie goes for quantity over quality, and what we’re left with is a frenetic, exhausting and over-stimulating biopic, narrated by a Tom Hanks who never quite managed to convince me that he was anyone other than himself. Austin Butler is outstanding, but it’s not enough to save this mess.

#9 – Avatar: The Way of Water
I have only seen the first Avatar movie once, during an interminable coach trip when I was about 14. I didn’t like it then, but I wondered whether the circumstances I had watched it in had done it a disservice. Unfortunately, I didn’t like James Cameron’s latest offering much better. Perhaps I just have a short attention span, but any movie that goes significantly over the two hour mark needs to really sell its extra minutes to me, and there just isn’t enough plot here to justify the runtime. Technically and visually very impressive, but for me committed the ultimate cinematic
sin of just being, well, boring.

#8 – Top Gun: Maverick
I actually enjoyed this much more than I was expecting to, as someone who isn’t traditionally a fan of action movies. It’s well made and a lot of fun to watch, even if the plot is telegraphed to you with neon signs. This is another movie where I only dimly remember watching the first iteration, but I still had a good time with the sequel, even if a lot of the callbacks sailed over my head. Best Picture worthy it is not, but it’s still worth watching.

A powerfully affecting family drama and a cautionary tale about the effects of watching your entire life go past you through a lens

#7 – Triangle of Sadness
I’m always a sucker for stories about rich people suffering, but this movie really dials that up to 11. The performances are just okay, but the cinematography is really interesting and the story is hilarious. It’s absolutely impossible to tell where this movie is going when you start it, but stick it out and you’ll be nothing if not entertained.

#6 – Everything Everywhere All At Once
This may well be my most controversial take on the list. I came to it late, following glowing recommendations from nearly everyone I knew, so I was ready to be blown away. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped. The performances are great (I particularly enjoyed Stephanie Hsu’s) and the costuming and editing are excellent, so it’s a really enjoyable film to look at. The story, however, just didn’t grab me, not helped by hit and miss dialogue and
a finale that felt distinctly bloated. I do think however that in this case, my expectations may well have been the thief of joy.

#5 – All Quiet on the Western Front
Weirdly, I found it quite hard to separate this film from the previous one when coming up with a ranking, even though you’d struggle to find two more different movies. There are no words to describe All Quiet on the Western Front other than genuinely and completely devastating. The performances are compelling and the score is haunting. It’s difficult to make a war movie that stands out in a very crowded field, but this brutal anti-war polemic does a good job of it.

#4 – The Fabelmans

Going in, I was worried that Spielberg’s latest offering would follow in the footsteps of the self- aggrandising, navel-gazing, Oscar-baity ‘movie-about-movies’ trend that’s been so popular with the Academy in recent times. And although this is undeniably a love letter to movie-making, it’s also a powerfully affecting family drama and a cautionary tale about the effects of watching your entire life go past you through a lens. Michelle Williams is enchanting, the cinematography is gorgeous, and I cried at least three times.

If I ran the Academy, I’d be showering Charlotte Wells’ feature film debut with every award going.

#3 – Women Talking
Frances McDormand is my favourite actress of all time, so I am perhaps biased towards anything with her name attached to it. That being said, I was captivated by Women Talking from start to finish. The dialogue is sharp and the characters unusual and multi-faceted. I was by turns on the verge of crying, cheering and wanting to punch something. Even Ben Whishaw’s slightly dodgy accent couldn’t take the shine off.

#2 – Tár
This is Cate Blanchett’s movie, and she knows it. From the opening scene where she gives an interview so mesmerising that I was immediately convinced Lydia Tár was a real person, she commands the screen throughout (and she’s rarely off it). The rest of the cast is also fantastic – I love when female characters are allowed to be horrible people in lots of interesting ways – and the sound design is absolutely impeccable.

#1 – The Banshees of Inisherin

And finally…it had to be The Banshees of Inisherin. I was already a fan of In Bruges, so to see the same acting-directing combo again was immediately exciting. Every single performance in this is flawless, and it was so surprisingly funny that it still makes me laugh now when I think about certain scenes, despite having first seen it many months ago. The scenery is spectacular, the score is brilliant and ultimately, try as I might, I just can’t find anything wrong with this movie.

Honourable Mention: Aftersun
This was easily my favourite movie of the year. I could not stop thinking about it for weeks after I saw it, and even now if I think about it too hard I start crying all over again. If I ran the Academy, I’d be showering Charlotte Wells’ feature film debut with every award going. As it is, I’ll have to keep my fingers crossed for a statuette for Paul Mescal.

Kit Sinclair

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @elvismovie, @thefabelmans and @banshees_movie via No changes were made to these images.

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