The Best Picture Award is the most coveted award of the Oscars. Near the beginning of every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (typically referred to as simply “the Academy”), announces its nominees for awards in 23 categories. This show, known as the Oscars, rewards excellent filmmaking and climaxes in the Best Picture winner.
Best Picture nominees showcase ten films instead of the typical five nominees for every other category. These 10 films are among the finest movies released in the preceding year. On March 12th, 2023, the Academy will announce which of them stands out the most this year.
Of course, the Academy Awards are not the final word on what makes a good movie. The Academy has been accused of favoritism, nepotism, sexism, and even racism.
Plus, the Academy is made up of people. Personal preference certainly plays a part in the selections. Hence, there’s a good chance that your favorite film from last year isn’t even in the runnings for Best Picture (we still love you, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story).
Despite any fault we may find with the Academy itself, there’s no denying the prestige that comes with being nominated. The actors, actresses, directors, composers, and anyone else tied to these nominees will forever be credited as an “Academy Award Nominee.”
Yet only one movie will walk away with the Best Picture award. These are the 10 Best Picture nominees this year!
The Quiet Best Picture Nominee: Women TalkingSexual assault and rape plague the women of a small Mennonite community. When the community catches one of the attackers and gets the names of other assaulters in the community, these culprits are taken to the city to face their charges.
However, the leaders of the Mennonite community don’t like this one bit. They give an ultimatum to the victims. Forgive the assailants, or leave the community and spend eternity in hell.
The majority of Women Talking takes place in a hayloft in this small village, where the women, well, talk. Do they leave the community and, in a sense, their faith? Or do they stay and force the community to change so this never happens again? Can they even change it?
These are just the first questions. As these women debate, more and more depravity committed by the men of this community comes to light.
What Women Talking Has People Talking About
While this is one of the less action-packed Best Picture nominees, it is one of the more impactful films. The movie features impressive acting from the entire ensemble. Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, and Frances McDormand are just some of the talented actresses who bring this story to life.
The film also boasts a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an 80% audience score. In addition to its Best Picture nomination, the Academy also nominated Women Talking for Best Adapted Screenplay.
At the time of writing this, Women Talking is only in theaters. If you want to catch this movie before the Academy Award ceremony, you’ll have to leave the comfort of your couch to see it.
The Absurdist Best Picture Nominee: Triangle Of SadnessA struggling model and his more successful model girlfriend have a rocky relationship. One night, a petty argument at a restaurant leads to an explosive shouting match in their hotel. They decide to get away for a while on a yacht trip to work on their relationship.
Sounds perfect, right?
Well, the trip descends into madness. One morning, pirates attack the vessel. The survivors of the destroyed yacht wind up on an island, where the ruling class finds themselves humbled and lorded over by the housekeeper of the yacht.
Triangle of Sadness is a critique of the uber rich “one percent’s” treatment of working and middle classes. The eclectic passengers of the yacht are the caricatures of the wealthy elite. Perhaps they’re not the most believable characters, but this isn’t necessarily the most believable story, nor does it strive to be.
This dark comedy asks the audience to suspend their disbelief and enjoy the antics of the absurd.
Similar To A Past Best Picture Winner?
Although it’s fairly easy to compare this movie to Bong Joon-ho’s Best Picture winner Parasite, this film is actually fairly different. Triangle of Sadness combines elegance and the crass in every possible way. One moment the passengers of the yacht are enjoying the decadent menu for the captain’s dinner. The very next, they’re vomiting in the middle of a storm to thrasher metal music. This irreverence for the elite makes this stand out among Best Picture nominees.
It’s also the only film on this list that’s already been added to the Criterion Collection. In addition to its Best Picture nomination, the Academy also nominated Östlund for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
However, Triangle of Sadness has its share of critics. During a Q&A section of a screening in Paris, one of the patrons felt compelled to stand up and scream at Ruben Östlund (writer and director) that the film was too simple. Yes, the patron was wealthy.
Regardless of its “simplicity,” we’d recommend this movie to anyone that doesn’t mind a 15-minute vomit scene. Triangle of Sadness is available to rent on several streaming services, including Amazon Prime.
The Sequel Best Picture Nominee: Avatar: The Way Of WaterThis Best Picture nominee picks up more than a decade after its predecessor, Avatar. That movie was another best picture nominee back in 2009.
Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) has fully acclimated to life with the Na’vi and lives in relative peace. Not for long, though. The humans return to Pandora despite their agreement to leave the planet.
Naturally, humans target Sully, and he has no choice but to flee with his family. They settle in a sister tribe of water-dwelling Na’vi and begin to learn the way of these people. However, the humans will not rest until Sully is dead.
James Cameron’s Magic Touch
James Cameron breaks box office records time and time again. Avatar: The Way of Water now sits as the fourth highest-grossing movie of all time. Number three is Titanic, and number one is Avatar, both films by Cameron. Let’s face it: the guy knows what will sell!
Cameron also knows what makes an Academy favorite. The above mentioned films give him three Best Picture nominees in his career, plus one win (Titanic).
Despite this, the film itself, in our opinion, is… just okay. While the original Avatar does a fantastic job of introducing the audience to the fictional planet Pandora, this sequel simply moves the story along.
Alas, that story itself is pretty predictable. Of course, predictability isn’t always a bad thing. With a runtime of more than 3 hours, though? Well, it can be pretty draining to sit through.
Admittedly, that’s not what the Avatar movies are about. They’re about the visual spectacle, and there’s no denying that Avatar: The Way of Water maintains the same standard that the first Avatar set. Alongside its Best Picture nomination, the film also received nominations for production design, visual effects, and sound mixing.
At this time, Avatar: The Way of Water is only available in theaters.
The Beloved Best Picture Nominee: Top Gun: MaverickTop Gun: Maverick follows Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (played by Tom Cruise) more than 30 years after the original film. Constant insubordination and an attitude problem kept Mitchell from advancing his naval pilot career. After an unapproved test flight to push past Mach 10, Mitchell gets a final assignment to train a group of young pilots for a covert mission.
Among these pilots is Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (played by Miles Teller), son of Mitchell’s dead copilot Nick “Goose” Bradshaw. Mitchell has to come to terms with his past while training these young pilots to prevent World War III.
The Top Sequel Among Best Picture Nominees
Hollywood knows that nostalgia sells, so it’s not surprising to see this sequel show up 36 years later. However, Top Gun: Maverick stands on its own as an outstanding film. In our opinion, it’s even better than the original!
A lot of the film’s success concerns the subject matter. Top Gun was about flight students trying to graduate from a rigorous and elite training program. Maverick is about trying to stop a war. The Academy must agree, as they nominated Maverick for Best Picture, which is a distinction that Top Gun did not receive.
However, fans of the film are mad that the film didn’t receive even more nominations. Namely, fans wanted to see Tom Cruise nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Even Jennifer Connelly, who plays Penny Benjamin in the film, went as far as to call Cruise’s performance “extraordinary.”
Sorry, fans: we have to disagree with this outrage. Although Cruise did a great job in Maverick, the actual nominees for Best Actor this year are far more deserving, at least in our opinion.
Regardless, Top Gun: Maverick received six well-deserved nominations, including being among the Best Picture nominees. The Academy also nominated the film for Adapted Screenplay, Original Song, Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, and Film Editing. Looks like Avatar: The Way of Water has fierce competition this year! Maverick is available to stream with a Paramount+ subscription, so be sure to watch it before the ceremony in March!
The Tragic Best Picture Nominee: TárCate Blanchett stars as Lydia Tár, a fictional composer and conductor at the height of her career. After releasing an autobiography, she prepares to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic to perform Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.
Alas, Tár’s pride begets her downfall though. When a former performer commits suicide, she starts to cover up any involvement with the deceased performer. Plus, when a Russian cellist applies for the orchestra, Tár’s lust for the performer ensures her destruction.
Among the Best Picture nominees this year, Tár most closely follows the traditional tragedy plot structure. Yes, the same one we’ve seen since ancient Greek theater. A character that starts a story at the top of their success has nowhere to go but down.
Despite this, Tár breathes fresh air into this classic genre. The movie juxtaposes the world of classical music and the base emotion like lust, pride, and fury. The end result is one of the most beautiful and upsetting films of the 2022 award cycle. The filmmakers execute this film masterfully.
If there’s one critique we can give the movie, it’s the jargon used throughout the film. If you have no background in music theory, then certain scenes in the movie might be a bit hard to follow. However, these moments aren’t the center of the movie. In fact, they only happen near the beginning of the film.
Tár is already an award winner coming into the Academy Awards. The National Society of Film Critics awarded the film the best of 2022, and the top prize for the New York Film Critics Circle. The Academy nominated Tár for 6 awards including Best Picture, including Cate Blanchett for Actress in a Leading Role, and Todd Field for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Additionally, the film received nominations for Film Editing and Sound Design.
Anyone with a Peacock subscription can stream this best-picture nominee for free now!
The Spielberg Best Picture Nominee: The FabelmansWhen Sammy Fabelman’s parents take him to his first movie, The Greatest Show on Earth, he immediately falls in love with film. The Fabelmans chronicles Sammy’s life as he grows from a boy to a young man and amateur filmmaker. As he matures, his camera captures the life of those around him and sheds new light on his reality, including his parents’ deteriorating marriage.
Much like these scenes of a movie come together to tell a story, so do the moments in Sammy’s life that shape his career.
The Fabelmans is Steven Spielberg’s latest film venture, as well as a semi-autobiographical account of his upbringing. The Fabelmans are a Jewish family that moves from New Jersey to the heavily Christian west coast, much like happened in Spielberg’s life.
This film weaves a romance between its audience and the process of making movies, not just watching them. Indeed, The Fabelmans is Spielberg’s love letter to the cinematic art form.
How Does The Fabelmans Fit Into Spielberg’s Repertoire?
We’ll be honest: The Fabelmans is neither our favorite Spielberg film nor our favorite among the Best Picture nominees. The stakes aren’t apparent until quite late in the movie. Some parts of the film don’t feel like they have any point in the plot. However, the movie is undeniably heartwarming, which makes it stand out among its more cynical or tragic peers. In fact, at the end of the day, we think that’s what’s best about it.
Any year that Spielberg makes a film, the Academy is almost sure to nominate it for a plethora of awards. The Fabelmans continues this trend, with a nomination for Best Original Score, Production Design, and Original Screenplay. Additionally, Spielberg received a nomination for best director. Judd Hirsch for Actor in a Supporting Role as Uncle Boris, and Michelle Williams for Actress in a Leading Role.
The Fabelmans is available to buy on several streaming services.
The Historical Best Picture Nominee: ElvisElvis details the meteoric rise and tragic fall of rock ‘n’ roll icon Elvis Presley, played by Austin Butler. Told from the perspective of Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker (played by two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks), Elvis explores the tension between these two in a struggle for power over Presley’s career. It also covers the abusive impact that stardom had on Presley’s physical and mental health.
Baz Luhrmann, best known for Moulin Rouge! and Romeo + Juliet, wrote and directed this movie. It’s easy to see his signature style in the film. Elvis is fast-paced and frantic, much like The King’s own life. Luhrmann’s style isn’t necessarily our favorite, but there’s something about it that undeniably works for this film. It’s an anxiety-ridden story that the audience feels alongside the characters.
Of the Best Picture nominees, few are as polarizing as Elvis. The film has a total of eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Austin Butler for Best Actor in a Leading Role. However, the film also landed two Razzie award nominations, including Tom Hanks for Worst Supporting Actor. Clearly, audiences either love or hate this film.
The Academy also nominated Elvis for Production Design, Cinematography, Costume Design, Makeup and Hair, Sound Mixing, and Film Editing. Anyone with an HBO Max or Hulu subscription can stream Elvis now.
The Banshees Of InisherinOn a remote Irish island at the end of the Irish Civil War, a lifelong friendship ends. Colm Doherty, played by Brendan Gleeson, abruptly begins ignoring Pádraic Súilleabháin, played by Colin Farrell.
Colm’s reasoning? He simply finds Pádraic dull, and wants to spend the remainder of his life composing music. When Pádraic keeps pressing the matter, Colm threatens to chop off his own fingers unless he’s left alone. Eventually, the plot comes to a head when things go too far, and their friendship shatters.
Writer and director Martin McDonagh knocked it out of the park once more with The Banshees of Inisherin. The dialogue is witty and devastating, the story relatable and original, and the characters are all easy to love despite their numerous obvious faults.
An Acclaimed Film
McDonagh is no stranger to the Academy Awards. He’s rounded up three more nominations for himself: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. Maybe he’ll even walk away with a win this year.
This film is one of the finest ensemble performances of the year, and the Academy recognizes it. Although McDonagh is a veteran of the Academy Awards ceremony, the actors in this film all received their very first nominations for their work in The Banshees of Inisherin. Colin Farrell received a nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Kerry Condon, who plays his sister Siobhán, is nominated for Best Actress in a supporting role. The film also received two nominations for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan, who plays Dominic Kearney.
To round it all out, The Banshees of Inisherin is nominated for Film Editing and Original Score. This brings its total nomination count to nine.
At the time of this writing, the film has a solid score of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of the most widely enjoyed films this year. It’s certainly the highest among our Best Picture nominees. If you have an HBO Max subscription, then now’s the time to watch this film!
The Classic Lit Best Picture Nominee: All Quiet On The Western FrontAdapted from Erich Maria Remarque’s 1928 novel of the same name, this story follows a young German who enlists in the army near the end of the first World War. His youthful exuberance quickly dies out when he comes face to face with the horror of trench warfare. His childhood friends are killed on the battlefield as he watches helplessly. He comes face-to-face with mortality as he kills French soldiers on the enemy side.
At the end of the film, he comes of age, but at what cost?
A Repeat Nomination
All Quiet on the Western Front is widely considered one of the most beautiful and recognizable war novels ever written. The juxtaposition of trench warfare with the comradeship found in the military makes for one of the most compelling stories of our time.
This film is the third filmed adaptation of the novel. The first, released in 1930, wasn’t just among that year’s Best Picture nominees: it won Best Picture.
Along with the Best Picture nomination, All Quiet on the Western Front racked up another eight nominations. The Academy nominated the film for the Best Adapted Screenplay, Best International Feature, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Makeup and Hair, and Best Sound Design.
Thus, it’s tied with The Banshees of Inisherin for nomination count. In fact, only one other movie received more nominations this year.
While the filmmakers were surprised at the movie’s nine Academy Award nominations, we can certainly say that we’re not surprised. Everything about this movie is masterfully executed, from the acting to the costume to the production design. Honestly, we think every frame of this film deserves to hang in a museum—that’s how good the cinematography is!
We have a hard time finding anything to critique about this movie. Even if you don’t like foreign language films, this one is worth making an exception.
All Quiet on the Western Front is a Netflix movie, so anyone with a subscription should watch this film as soon as possible!
The Most Original Best Picture Nominee: Everything Everywhere All At OnceEvelyn Quan (played by Michelle Yeoh) and her husband (played by Ke Huy Quan) are Chinese-American immigrants running a laundromat. When the IRS audits their business, they schedule a meeting with their agent (Jamie Lee Curtis).
However, before this meeting, Evelyn’s husband is taken over by an alternate-reality version of himself and instructs Evelyn how to jump to different universes. Her alternate-reality husband needs her help because their daughter (Stephanie Hsu) is working to destroy the entire multiverse.
Everything Everywhere All At Once premiered back in March of 2022. Since then, critics and audiences have almost exclusively sung its praise. The film weaves the extraordinary and the mundane together in a beautiful tapestry of contrast and absurdity: a mirror of life itself. It’s both heartfelt and hilarious. It’s all-encompassing and highly personal. Everything Everywhere All At Once, in our opinion, is one of the freshest and most original movies in years.
The Film’s Origins
What’s even more impressive is that this is the co-directors’ first trip to the Academy Awards, and they’re taking it by storm. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert got their start directing music videos for groups like Foster the People, The Shins, and Tenacious D. They even directed this iconic music video for DJ Snake & Lil Jon’s song “Turn Down for What.”
To think that these guys would go on to make one of the most celebrated movies of 2022!
Daniel and Daniel also received nominations for Best Director(s) and Best Original Screenplay. On top of that, the cast received nominations as well. Michelle Yeoh is nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Ke Huy Quan for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu are both nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
Add the nominations for Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Costume Design, and Best Film Editing, and EEAAO leads the nomination count with a whopping 11 nominations!
Anyone that hasn’t seen this film can now with a Showtime subscription or add-on.