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Critical Linking: Oscars Edition 5 min read

Critical Linking: Oscars Edition

Everything you could need to follow up on the 95th Academy Award, whether you watched or not.

By Cary Littlejohn

Oscars Night is one of my favorite nights. It’s a celebration of storytelling and movie-making, and the 95th Academy Awards was no exception. In case you missed out on the show, some of the night’s biggest awards went to:

  • Best Picture: Everything, Everywhere, All At Once
  • Best Director: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, EEAAO
  • Best Actor: Brendan Fraser, The Whale
  • Best Actress: Michelle Yeoh, EEAAO
  • Best Supporting Actor: Ke Huy Quan, EEAAO
  • Best Supporting Actress: Jamie Lee Curtis, EEAAO
  • Best Original Screenplay: EEAAO
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Women Talking
  • Best International Film: All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Best Documentary: Navalny

I probably would have picked some different winners, if left up to me. Not to rain on EEAAO’s parade, but there were simply better films and performances in some of these categories. But it’s undeniably exciting to see a change to the types of movies that are celebrated, a change to the types of movies that have lots of talk and momentum behind them. EEAAO has been a front-runner for a calendar year, and that’s no small feat. But then to clean house and win like few films ever win? Well, that’s a good night for Hollywood. It’s a good night for those of us who love movies and, more than that, love variety in our movies and hope to still see some made that aren’t about the same seven characters in various franchises we know all too well. I’m heartened by it all.

Though the big night has now come and gone and we’ll shortly be turning our attention back to the coming year’s race (not unlike close followers of political races), here are some links that have a little bit of staying power, a little timeless enjoyment for you, perfectly calculated for if you didn’t watch the show or didn’t even watch many of the films that were nominated.

There’s still time. (I, for one, now have to go watch The Whale.) There’s always time. This is the show that never ends.

Ten Worth Your Time

  1. Obviously not every Best Picture nominee could walk away with an award, but check out some of what made each of them such a strong group. 2023 Oscars: Watch Scenes From Eight Best Picture Nominees | The New York Times

  2. Big Jim Cameron didn’t show up to this year’s Oscars, but his three-hour epic sequel Avatar: The Way of Water just won for visual effects.  Here’s how he and his team made a little bit of the visually stunning world come to life in this behind-the-scenes look from Vanity Fair. Watch How Avatar: The Way of Water’s VFX Were Made | Tricks of the Trade | Vanity Fair

  3. It was truly Everything, Everywhere All At Once’s night. Here’s a great look at some of the innovative strategies the Daniels used to make an Oscar-worthy film on a shoestring budget, thanks to one of my favorite Youtube channels, Studio Binder.

  4. While on Studio Binder’s corner, I couldn’t rightly pretend they hadn’t done a bang-up job going behind the scenes of Top Gun Maverick. It didn’t get a nomination for Best Cinematography, but when you see what all went into this, it seems kind of crazy that it wasn’t. (Also, it’s hilarious to see the Studio Binder software get used and type in things like “F-18” into the necessary tools for a shot.)

  5. The best part of the Paramount+ series The Offer, the dramatization of the story behind the making of The Godfather, was undoubtedly Matthew Goode’s portrayal of Robert Evans. The Hollywood legend needed no impersonation (regardless of how good it might have been) to capture what made him compelling. James Sikura used to work for Evans, and begins his “Why wasn’t Evans given a lifetime achievement Oscar?” musing for Airmail with an all-timer first line:

    “The first time I was fired by Robert Evans, I figured at the very least I was in good company.”

  6. My hat’s off to those fine folks at Vulture, out there hustlin’ to get that Oscars content to the masses. You don’t need to have seen a single one of this year’s Best Picture nominations to find value in these list: Find something to get upset about or agree with, or at a bare minimum, find a great recommendation for your next watch. The Best Movies to Win an Oscar, Ranked and The Best Movies That Lost Best Picture at the Oscars | Vulture

  7. The Oscars’ voters aren’t unlike weathermen: No other groups get to be wrong so often yet maintain their legitimacy in the eyes of their audiences. That’s what makes lists like the previous two lists from Vulture possible, and film critic Dana Stevens digs into the Oscars’ remarkable staying power:The Oscars’ Incredible Knack for Being Wrong | The Atlantic

  8. Stevens’ article relied heavily on Michael Schulman, he of the wonderfully viral New Yorker profile of Succession’s Jeremy Strong and currently on the book circuit right now with Oscar Wars: A History of Hollywood in Gold, Sweat, and Tears. Hear the best in the biz, Terry Gross, talk to Schulman on Fresh Air: The ‘Gold, Sweat, And Tears’ Behind The Oscars | Fresh Air

  9. A good old-fashioned newspaper feature idea that says, “How can we localize a massive story with a unique angle that only we can do?” A look inside L.A. tuxedo shops when the Oscars come to town. At L.A. tux shops, Oscars are big money. And a big headache | Los Angeles Times

  10. An interesting look into whether one can bottle up and sell the blueprint to a successful movie screenplay. Trapped in Robert McKee’s “Story” | The New Yorker

More From Me

Over on my blog, I’ve been writing about various topics of interest to me:

Culture Diary

Here’s a collection of what I’ve been consuming in the past few weeks.

The legend for my list was stolen from Steven Soderbergh, where ALL CAPS represents a movie, Sentence Case is a TV show, ALL CAPS ITALICS is a short film, Italics is a book, bold is a live performance or show. A number in parentheses after a TV show highlights how many episodes I watched. An asterisk after an entry means it’s a rewatch. The source of the movie or show, whether streaming service, physical media, or in theaters, is shown in parentheses as well.

2/20: Crossroads, Jonathan Franzen
2/21: The Last of Us (HBO Max)
2/26: SHARPER (Apple TV+); The Last of Us (HBO Max)
3/3: Trevor Noah (Stiefl Theater in STL)
3/6: Central Places, Delia Cai; The Mandalorian, S3 (Disney+)
3/7: The Last of Us (HBO Max)
3/8: Poker Face (Peacock)
3/9: Poker Face (Peacock)
3/10: The Mandalorian, S3 (Disney+); IN BRUGES (PVOD)
3/11: Aaron Sorkin’s To Kill a Mockingbird (The Fabulous Fox Theater in STL)
3/12: The 95th Academy Awards (ABC via Youtube TV)