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The 2022 Oscars show: Some questionable moments, aside from the slap

Academy Awards nominations for 2021 movies often violent, unimaginative with some very dark themes

Oscar Poster Flat 94O_Teaser-ArtAlthough there are some brilliant moments in the 2021 Oscar nominated movies, recurring reliance on violence and coming of age stories about males dominate the offerings.

And last year’s movies have a new dark element. Welcome the psychological thriller, a slow moving movie that suddenly has a big twist at the end: Think “Nightmare Alley” and “Power of the Dog.” I didn’t like either of them.

Spoiler alert. Then, to top it off, James Bond dies. How depressing.

Here are my choices for which movies should get the golden statue. The first one listed is the one I selected. I also comment on other movies nominated in each section:

Actor in a leading role

Andrew Garfield in “tick, tick…Boom!” It’s one of my favorite movies from 2021. So refreshing to watch a musical rather than a bunch of people fighting each other.

“The Power of the Dog” is very slow moving. Also, I didn’t like it that the brother was verbally abusing his brother’s new wife – and it went on and on and on. If we’re going to see a lot of psychological thrillers in the future, count me out. I don’t like them.

“King Richard” is good, but I think the Venus and Serena’s characters are underdeveloped.

I didn’t see “The Tragedy of Macbeth.”

Actor in a supporting role

Ciaran Hinds in “Belfast.” I think it’s a great movie; a story about a period in history rather something made up about people fighting.

I didn’t see “CODA.”

Actress in a leading role

Penelope Cruz in “Parallel Mothers.” It surprised me. Spanish movies are often people coming together in a scene and talking to each other or arguing. It was surprising it started out with people wanting to excavate graves of men executed by Franco’s army, a topic some Spaniards don’t want to talk about. Also, my daughter lives in Madrid, so I liked seeing the Spanish households and scenes.

I also liked “Being the Ricardos.” People on Facebook were critical of the movie and thought Nicole Kidman didn’t sound like Lucy. However, Lucy probably didn’t actually sound in real life like she did in the TV shows. I thought Nicole Kidman does a good job playing Lucy. However, it was sad that Lucy so badly wanted love and Desi was unfaithful.

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye” also is well done, with Jessica Chastain giving a great performance as Tammy Faye.

On “Spencer,” I think it’s a very sad movie. I suggest people skip it. I wonder why we have to go through this story yet again. It’s “a fable from a true story.” That means the writers made up a story they thought was interesting based on the period toward the end of Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles.

Actress in a supporting role

Judi Dench in “Belfast.”

I think “West Side Story” feels dated. Steven Spielberg said he wanted to make it because he liked the music when he was a kid. As the script was being developed, which took five years, Spielberg said things widened. He said it sadly made the story of those racial divides, not just territorial divides, more relevant to today’s audience than perhaps it even was in 1957. However, in my opinion, the divisions we have today go beyond racism into a hate of government and people who aren’t conservative.

“The Lost Daughter,” a psychological drama, is slow and disjointed. People had lots of questions of what it means and how it ends. I’d skip it.

Animated feature film

“Luna.” It’s a story about sea monsters who turned into people when they’re on land. Kids learn about people who are different.

Unbelievably, there was another good movie in this category, where Hollywood usually offers only violent films for kids. “Encanto,” about a girl trying to figure out why the magic that was in her family for eons is diminishing, also is well done.

“Raya and the Last Dragon” has a worthwhile theme, about communities working together to achieve a goal, but it has a lot of violence.

“The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is the typical Hollywood movie for kids – all violence as the Mitchell family tries to save the world from the machines.

“Flee,” also nominated under documentary feature, seems out of place in this category. A coming of age story about a boy escaping Afghanistan, animation is used to protect his identity.

Cinematography

“The Power of the Dog.” I don’t like the movie at all, but the picturesque setting reminded me of Central Washington where I grew up.

“Nightmare Alley” is very disturbing, another psychological thriller. A guy kills his dad and hides in a carnival, where he learns the secrets of a psychic. He scams a rich man, then kills him and his body guard. Again, he hides in a circus. I saw the end coming. He gets a job as the geek, a man who is starved and becomes so deranged, he’ll eat a live chicken for an audience. Terrible.

On “Dune,” I didn’t like the original and I don’t like the remake. Too much violence. The original “Dune” appeared in an era in which violence in movies was stepped up. I remember taking my kids to “Star Wars” movies in the 1980s and thinking, “These movies are for kids?”

Costume design

“Cruella.” A dark movie, it’s definitely not for kids. I’m not sure of the purpose of this origin story. You had sympathy for Estella’s difficult childhood, but she become Cruella and is meanish to her friends. In “101 Dalmatians,” she wants to sell the hides of the dogs. What gives Hollywood?

I didn’t see “Cyrano.” I wasn’t willing to pay $19.99 to see it.

Directing

“Belfast.”

“Drive My Car” is slow, so slow. Also, it’s long, three hours. In addition, I didn’t get the ending. I thought Kafuku and Misaki ended up together since she was driving his car accompanied by a dog. That ending was a concern due to their age differences. However, reviews say he gave her the car because she liked it and he could no longer drive due to glaucoma.

“Licorice Pizza?” Another coming of age story about a male. Don’t bother.

Documentary feature

“Attica.” The producers said they wanted to make this film before those involved died. It happened in 1971. It’s powerful but really, really disturbing. Thirty-nine prisoners and hostages were killed, all by law enforcement gunfire. After the smoke cleared, prisoners were stripped naked and forced to crawl through a latrine and then to run down a hall between two rows of guards who beat them as they ran. Broken glass also was strewn on the floor.

It’s what movie making should be all about, making something important and worthwhile.

“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” is also well done. It’s about the Harlem Cultural Festival that was filmed in Mount Morris Park, now Marcus Garvey Park in 1969, the same year as Woodstock. The footage was largely forgotten until now.

I didn’t see “The Queen of Basketball” or “Writing with Fire.”

Documentary short subject

“Lead Me Home.” It’s about homelessness in Seattle, San Francisco, and another city. It’s excellent and shows the problems of several dozen real people. Gripping and sad, it shows a city council meeting where people oppose a shelter in their neighborhood.

“Audible,” about deaf football players and their school, is also well done.

“Three Songs for Benanzir,” another male coming of age story, is sad. Set in Afghanistan, a young man tries to find his way in a camp for internally displaced people. He wants to join the Afghan Army, but his father refuses to sign the paperwork and sends him to cultivate poppies for the opium trade. He becomes addicted and goes to rehab.

Film editing

“Don’t Look Up.” I think it’s a well-done movie, even clever in some places. Two astronomers try to warn people of a planet-killing comet hurtling toward Earth. Conservatives and a conservative president tell them not to look up so a businessman can try to mine minerals from the comet. The movie made me sad that there are so many people in our nation that want to destroy it based on wild conspiracy theories – just like in the movie.

International feature film

“Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom.” This movie was a pleasant surprise after watching about 30 movies. Although it’s another coming of age story about a male, the setting in the Himalayas is phenomenal. The young man, an aspiring singer who wants to go to Australia, is assigned to a school high in the mountains of Bhutan, an eight-day walk from the capital where he lives with his grandmother. Lunana has less than 100 residents.

On “The Hand of God,” another male coming of age story, don’t bother. It’s about director Paolo Sorrentino life as a kid, and guess what? He wants to be a film maker. It’s a string of episodes from his life. I guess when a director gets famous for making films, then he can make a mediocre movie like this.

“The Worst Person in the World” is disappointing. Finally, after watching a couple of dozen movies, there’s a story about a woman. However, the name, “The Worst Person in the World” is terrible. She just a women in her 20s trying to figure out what to do in her life – her career and relationships. Why call her the worst person in the world?

Makeup and hairstyling

“The House Gucci.” I’m picking it because it’s the only nomination the movie received. I liked it. It’s a dramatic story without a lot of violence. I think, however, that Adam Driver looks English not Italian.

Original score

“Dune.”

Original song

“No Time to Die” from “No Time to Die.” It’s mostly a typic James Bond movie, however, Bond dies at the end. Really? You know when Bond is in love, bad things are going to happen. I remember years ago when he got married, then boom, his bride was killed.

“Four Good Days” only received this one nomination. I think it’s an intriguing movie. It was about something real. It was sad the adult daughter was addicted. But she got clean at the end, even though she lied. I wish it would have been nominated for something substantial besides original song.

Best picture

“Belfast” and “tick, tick…Boom!”

Production design

“West Side Story.”

Animated short film

“Robin Robin.” A robin is raised by a mouse family and needs to figure out how to fly. The robin is a clumsy mouse. But she saves a crow with the broken wing and the mouse family from a mean cat.

I didn’t see the others.

Live action short film

I didn’t see any of these.

Sound

“Dune.”

Visual effects

“Free Guy.” I liked it. Although there’s lots of violence, it’s in a video game world. Blue Shirt Guy becomes an AI and his creators are able to save his world which was threatened when the head of the company wants to discontinue the video game.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is mostly violence. The dad is evil when he has the 10 rings. He dies because he’s tricked when he tries to get his dead wife out of a compound where the ultimate evil is imprisoned. The son gets the rings, and helps his mother’s magic community survive.

I didn’t see “Spider-Man No Way Home.”

Adapted screenplay

I don’t like any of these. However, I didn’t see “CODA.”

Original screenplay

“Belfast.”

Well, that’s a rap. I watched 35 movies for this review. It was good that I started early. However, I guessed that “Annette,” another awful psychological thriller, would be nominated because it won a Golden Globe award. It wasn’t.

I also watched “The Tender Bar,” which is an interesting story.

Update: A reader commented that I didn’t rate any movies as great or don’t miss. I see I wasn’t clear. Here are the ones I recommend people see: “Being the Ricardos,” “tick, tick...Boom!,” “King Richard,” “Belfast,” “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” “Parallel Mothers,” “West Side Story,” “Encanto,” “Flee,” “Luca,” “Attica,” “Lead Me Home,” “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” “Audible,” “The Three Songs of Benazir,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom,” “Four Good Days,” “Robin Robin,” and “Free Guy.”

For “don’t miss,” I recommend “tick, tick...Boom!,” “King Richard,” “Belfast,” “Parallel Mothers,” “Luca,” “Attica,” “Lead Me Home,” “Don’t Look Up,” and “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom.”

Comments

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Meryl

Interesting summary of the good and not-so-good - I guess you didn't rate any of the movies as great, and a don't miss. I did not see most of them, so cannot judge, although didn't want to see a lot of them based on reviews and themes, especially the violence.

Rita

Meryl, I see that my long article didn’t show which movies I thought people should see or not miss. I added this update: A reader commented that I didn’t rate any movies as great or don’t miss. I see I wasn’t clear. Here are the ones I recommend people see: “Being the Ricardos,” “tick, tick...Boom!,” “King Richard,” “Belfast,” “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” “Parallel Mothers,” “West Side Story,” “Encanto,” “Flee,” “Luca,” “Attica,” “Lead Me Home,” “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” “Audible,” “The Three Songs of Benazir,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom,” “Four Good Days,” “Robin Robin,” and “Free Guy.”

For “don’t miss,” I recommend “tick, tick...Boom!,” “King Richard,” “Belfast,” “Parallel Mothers,” “Luca,” “Attica,” “Lead Me Home,” “Don’t Look Up,” and “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom.”

Laurie Stone

Interesting list. The vast majority I haven't seen. So much of what Hollywood puts out is violent, boy's club trash, I end up skipping almost all.

Rita

Laurie, you're so right. That's why I take the time every year to watch about 30 movies and review them. Movie makers need to do better. They use violence to sell. And for boy's club trash, you're so right. There were so many coming of age stories about males. And when a story was made about a woman in her 20s trying to find her way, it was called "The Worst Person in the World." Oh, my gosh.

Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski

I got to meet Troy Kotsur from CODA late last year when we both attended a sci-fi convention together as guest actors. He was there because he played a role in the Mandalorian. Little did I know he would not only get the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor but also took the award at many other award shows. I wish I had said more than hi to him. CODA is a wonderful movie. I highly recommend it.

Rita

Rebecca, you are so lucky to live in Hollywood and be in the biz. The weather's good, too. I'm looking forward to seeing "CODA." I just didn't want to pay for Apple TV+ after paying for Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

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