Haven’t been around much as I have two projects that require a certain amount of my time, but Oscar Season is upon us, ten movies are vying for the trophy, and once again I, your pop culture sin eater, have watched them so you don’t have to.
And hey, to an untrained eye, it even looks like they’ve learned some lessons from previous years! It’s not wall-to-wall bummers like two years back! The pre-season buzz didn’t go all in on the wrong movies like last year! There’s been an improvement in both biopics and “Famous filmmaker makes movie about his youth” movies, yes that second one sounds weirdly specific, but at least there’s only one, there were two of them last year. There are actual crowd pleasers! Movies people actually saw! In fact the two highest grossing movies of the whole damn year are here! And almost certainly neither of them will win, but it’s just nice to see Academy and Audience playing nice for a minute.
So here, for your enjoyment and edification, I present the so-called best pictures of 2022, nominees for the 2023 Oscars, ranked in my order of preference, along with where I’d rank them overall if they won.
Not gonna name movies I think should have been nominated because honestly I don’t know that I saw ten movies I think deserved a nomination (I love The Batman but I also live in the real world), so let’s just say this:
Babylon is a dizzying, disorienting, fever dream of a movie on how Hollywood changed not just through the introduction of sound, but in conservatism creeping in to “clean up” the industry. Sure the main plot points seem to be about sound’s impact, but pay attention and you see how Hollywood had to become more puritan, less female-driven, less queer, and way more white. Our primary protagonist goes by “Manny” and claims to be Spanish because he knows Manuel from Mexico won’t last long as a studio producer; a starlet is pushed aside because you can’t be Asian and openly gay in William Randolph Hearst’s Hollywood; the parties get tamer and tamer, only for the reveal that the real party just moved underground, and when that happens, the mob gets involved and things get dark. And through it all, four people try to cheat mortality through the movies. It was never going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but Babylon was a wild ride I’ve enjoyed unpacking, I’m glad it exists, there are multiple movies that deserve to be on this list way less.
Glass Onion is an absurdly well-constructed mystery, the hints and reveals all placed perfectly, the cast astounding, the script inhumanly clever, and it’s the perfect skewering of the myth that being a billionaire means you’re a genius. Its only crime is not being quite as good as its predecessor, Knives Out, but come on, what is?
Next Page: Back of the pack