I love movies. I have seen every Oscar film nominated for best picture this year. I have yet to see “The Whale,” where Brendan Fraser is nominated for his performance. I will eventually see it, but after reading Roxanne Gay’s op-ed, where she wrote that “it is a gratuitous, self-aggrandizing fiction at best,” I have put it on the back burner.
It has not been easy to see all the foreign films as most are not on cable or in the theaters, which is aggravating, although we managed to see Return to Seoul this past weekend and Argentina 1985. If only our country would take a lesson from Argentina 1985.
This brings me to the Your Place or Mine, the new film by Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher. It is mindless, although we didn’t turn it off. This movie is 100% made for cable. I can’t decide if it is genius or disturbing.
The movie takes every comedic jab toward our society today. It is a quasi-fun rom-com that is entirely predictable or a scary depiction of life in 2023. After all, we all like being able to relate to characters on screen.
I still do love a movie theater that takes you away from everything sitting in the dark, popcorn in hand, soda by your side, and possibly milk duds, waiting for the film to begin, particularly today in our multi-tasking society. How often do you grab the phone for a peek watching a film at home? It is easy and comfortable, but it is not the same.
Of the ten films up for best Oscar, I saw four in the theater, pre-Oscar night. That is a massive change from years past. I do not see this changing, making it easier for people like Reese and Ashton to make dumb rom-com to zone out to at home.
My favorite films of the year were Everything Everywhere All At Once. This should be seen when you are fully awake and engaged. Intelligent, funny, and great performances. All Quiet on the Western Fron, although a remake, this film should be seen in a theater even though I saw it at home. Brilliant cinemaphotography. Women Talking, based on a true story, is intense and is undoubtedly a commentary on women’s history. The Fablemans is not great, but it makes sense that Spielberg would tell a story about his life in film vs. a book. The movie’s best line is, “guilt is a wasted emotion.” Triangle of Sadness, I have seen twice. It is not for everyone, yet the attack on the rich and privileged is genius. Many naysayers on Tar, but I loved it, and Cate Blanchett is fantastic. Again another social commentary is The Banshees of Inshirin which I did not enjoy. Top Gun was not top. Elvis is meh, but Austin Butler is fantastic. Avatar was a disappointment, and Causeway is subtle, and I didn’t love it.
Where theater goes is a mystery to us all. The industry is in upheaval; writers are not being acknowledged for their brilliance, and as usual, the new theaters, aka Netflix, Hulu, HBO, etc., are playing to the street to keep their stock prices up. Let’s see how long that lasts.
Regardless, films are an essential part of culture, and good ones make us see the world differently and can stick with us for a long time.