5 on the fly: movies to watch before the 2023 Academy Awards

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by Sarah Halfpenny

As the countdown to the Oscars on begins – televised on Monday, 13 March in Australia – film enthusiasts and casual moviegoers alike are eager to catch up on the best movies of the year. To help you prepare for the big event, here’s a list of the top five films you should see before the Academy Awards. From gripping dramas to black comedies, these films showcase the best of what the international film industry has to offer.

  1. Everything Everywhere All At Once

Academy Award nominations: 11 including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Michelle Yeoh), Best Supporting Actress (Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephanie Hsu), Best Supporting Actor (Key Huy Quan), Best Original Screenplay.

A Chinese immigrant, played by Michelle Yeoh, is no longer as young and energetic as she once was when she unexpectedly becomes part of a wild journey where she’s the only one who can save the world by venturing into alternate universes and connecting with the different lives she could have lived. Written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (aka the ‘Daniels’), it’s come to light that the film’s main character, Evelyn, and writer/director Daniel Kwan, both have undiagnosed ADHD, which influenced the making of the movie. It’s my pick for Best Picture – 10/10 would recommend but strap in for a wild ride!

  1. Tár

Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Todd Field), Best Actress (Cate Blanchett), Best Original Screenplay (Todd Field).

Australia’s own Cate Blanchett stars in this acclaimed high-art drama directed by Todd Field. Blanchett gives one of her best performances as Lydia Tár, a revered conductor whose privileged life is threatened when a new musician joins the orchestra. With outstanding performances and flawless craft, TÁR is undoubtedly one of the top films of the year, winning Best Actress awards at the BAFTAs, Venice Film Festival, Golden Globes, and Critic’s Choice Award.

  1. The Whale

Academy Award nominations: Best Actor (Brendan Fraser), Best Supporting Actress (Hong Chau), Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Starring Brendan Fraser, this poignant drama directed by Darren Aronofsky, also features Sadie Sink, Samantha Morton, and Hong Chau. The film depicts the story of a recluse (Fraser) whose life changes when his estranged daughter (Sink) unexpectedly comes to visit. With multiple awards from the Venice Film Festival, THE WHALE is a leading contender for the 2022 awards season, largely due to Fraser’s outstanding performance which has been called a transformative comeback, making him a hot tip to earn an Oscar.

  1. The Banshees Of Inisherin

Academy Award nominations: Nine including Best Picture, Best Director (Martin McDonagh), Best Actor (Colin Farrell), Best Supporting Actor (Brendan Gleeson), Best Supporting Actress (Kerry Condon).

This Irish black comedy, directed by Martin McDonagh, reunites IN BRUGES co-stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. After lifelong friends Pádraic and Colm hit a rough patch, events spiral out of control. The movie won Best Actor and Best Screenplay at the Venice Film Festival and is a sentimental favourite at this year’s Academy Awards.

  1. An Ostrich Told Me The World Is Fake And I Think I Believe It

Academy Award nomination: Best Short Film (Animated).

Another Aussie filmmaker doing us proud! Directed by Brisbane-based Lachlan Pendragon, this 12-minute short film tells the quirky tale of a young telemarketer who is confronted by a mysterious talking ostrich, and learns the universe is stop-motion animation. He must put aside his dwindling toaster sales and focus on convincing his colleagues of his terrifying discovery. It’s fun, funny, thought-provoking and extremely clever filmmaking. Good luck Lachlan!

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