Like a seasonal influx of plague-carrying rats in 14th century Europe, the Oscars return once again to present a handful of films as the supposed best of the year. Here is a short breakdown of each best picture nominee so you can brag to your friends that you’re a cinema expert after picking the incredibly niche one as your winning horse.
Top Gun: Maverick: It’s a one to one remake of Top Gun but with the great Miles Teller from Whiplash. Are you fond of Top Gun? If so, you have probably already seen this eighty-seven times. It is generally a pretty charming film, despite being derivative of the original. The aerial cinematography is phenomenal and really impressive.
Everything Everywhere All at Once: A zany but heartfelt story where martial arts star Michelle Yeoh learns to utilize different alternate lives across the multiverse. This had a massive following when it came out, and fans of the film are extremely passionate. I think the blend of creativity and celebrity talent lends Everything Everywhere All at Once a solid shot at taking home an award or two.
Avatar: The Way of Water: Despite taking over a decade, James Cameron’s second film about ten-foot tall blue CGI cat people did actually come out this year. Narratively, The Way of Water is a little bit of a hot mess, but it’s visually beautiful and Cameron really knows how to shoot a movie. Great creature designs, above-average modern action, and generally pretty watchable even if it does suffer from a lot of issues carried over from the first film. At the very least, Avatar is probably winning best visual effects or something similar.
Elvis: Continuing the recent and extremely popular trend of the dramatic celebrity biopic this year is Elvis, in which Tom Hanks does a questionable accent for two hours. Austin Butler’s performance garnered a massive amount of praise and launched him to immediate stardom.
The Fabelmans: Steven Spielberg’s love letter to cinema, and likely a lot of his own experiences, is captured beautifully through this coming of age story about a young film enthusiast. It’s Steven Spielberg, the man is great.
Women Talking: Women Talking is a tense drama about the horror of sexual abuse, in this case in a small religious community.
Tár: Starring the great Cate Blanchett as a monstrous composer, Tár is stressful, engaging, and thoughtful, and it has generated a lot of buzz online.
Other nominations include The Banshees of Inisherin, a tale of a broken relationship between two friends living on a small Irish island; Triangle of Sadness, a classic but interesting premise of the super-rich being marooned on a desert island; and All Quiet on the Western Front, a remake of a classic war film based on a book of the same name.