Everything Everywhere All at Once, the science-fiction comedy from Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert scooped seven Oscars at the 95th Academy Awards, including those for best picture, best director, best actress, best supporting actress and best supporting actor. Our reviewer Tara Brady was certainly impressed by this big-hearted family drama about acceptance and a love story between an older married couple which she gave four out of five stars to. You can read her review here.
This year’s best actor award went to Brendan Fraser, star of The Whale, in what Donald Clarke describes as Darren Aronofsky’s “largely dreadful translation” of Samuel D Hunter’s play about a bereaved English teacher eating himself to death. Sadly, Donald writes, not even someone so warm as Fraser can win us over to the most jaw-droppingly daft final shot in recent cinema. The one-star review of the film, which also won best makeup and hairstyling, is here.
After being drugged, raped and beaten by the men in the community, the characters in Women Talking (winner of best adapted screenplay) – who are largely illiterate and ignorant of wider culture – gather in a barn to debate whether they should get in their carts and leave. Some of the perpetrators have been arrested and, bail posted, will soon be returning to the farm. The women must decide before then. Cunningly drawn characters fleshed out by excellent actors (including Jessie Buckely) keep the exchanges sharp and engaging, with Donald awarding it four stars in his review.
Its four stars for the multi-Oscar winning All Quiet on the Western Front, too. Erich Maria Remarque’s first World War novel has attracted the interest of surprisingly few adaptors since its publication in 1928. Edward Berger’s bone-rattling film is, in fact, the first feature adaptation to open commercially in cinemas for close to a century and it does not disappoint, writes Donald of the winner of: best international feature film; best cinematography; best original score; and best production design.
Best animated feature went to Pinocchio with Guillermo del Toro, one of cinema’s great visual stylists, putting his original stamp on the 140-year-old story of the mischievous animated marionette and his adopted woodcarving father, Geppetto. The stop-motion animation takes place in fascist Italy between the wars, a setting that allows for much contemplation of mortality, a dramatic bombing sequence that robs the carpenter of his only (human) son, and a cameo appearance by Benito Mussolini. While there is much to love about this film which Tara awarded three and a half stars to, she does wonder who exactly the film is for?
Top Gun: Maverick won best sound at this year’s Oscars, and was hailed as “better than the original” when it was released, 36 years after the original hit the screen. In the modern release, Let’s Dance is on the jukebox and Ed Harris is one of several senior figures tasked with relearning the art of acting while lit through Venetian blinds. Defying all the laws of physics, biology and economics, Tom Cruise is still Tom Cruise and Pete Mitchell is still “Maverick”. In his four star review, Donald says the film takes your breath away in all the right places.
Donald was much less impressed with Avatar: The Way of Water – winner of best visual effects. Coming more than a decade after the original, he says Part II is little more than a holding pattern for an incoming convoy of epics. It’s extremely long. It presents us with crisis and tragedy. But there is barely enough hard plot for an hour of telly. Awarding it two stars, Donald “needed a dark room and an ice pack on my forehead after that”.
It was also a two star review for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (winner of best costume design). Letitia Wright makes the centre stage her own in a film that deals sensitively with Chadwick Boseman’s death. But your mind may wander in this sluggish sequel which Donald says is “ultimately, a weary drag. It is as if the James Bond franchise had gone straight from Dr No to Moonraker in one leap (but with fewer jokes).”
Read our features on other Oscar winners: