All Quiet on the Western Front
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Top Gun: Maverick
Women Talking (winner)
There were a number of interesting adapted screenplays from 2022 that were overlooked in favor of the movies that got wrapped up in Oscar acclaim. So, while the same group of movies gobbled up all of the nominations, Oscar voters were forced to ignore gems from the year like After Yang, which, like the best science fiction, asks the question of what it means to be truly human. As always, the science fiction and horror genres came to play and got overlooked, leaving out Hellraiser (a solid reinterpretation of the original myth), Prey, Scream, and The Blackening. The same is true for action movies—since Top Gun: Maverick got this nomination, Bullet Train got left out. Animated movies rarely get these nominations, which leaves out Lightyear and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. Both Where the Crawdads Sing and The Whale seem like obvious nominations, but for me, the one I wanted to see here and was surprised that it was ignored was Three Thousand Years of Longing.
Weeding through the Nominees
5. Is there a cadre of jingoistic wankers in the group of people who decide on the nominations? That’s the only explanation I can see for Top Gun: Maverick being here. This is a screenplay that wants us to embrace a new generation of elite pilots and then gives us a movie that essentially ignores all of them. If you’ve seen this movie, please give me a distinguishing characteristic for each of the younger pilots involved in the film. I suggest that you can’t, because the film didn’t care enough about them to include them.
4. When you are basing your film on a classic film from a previous era, all you really need to do is stick to the script as much as you can. As such, Living was a wonderful screenplay because it toed the line with the original, Ikiru. And, while I don’t think it’s necessarily easy to update a screenplay like this, I also don’t know that it involves the same amount of overall effort as adapting from a different medium. It’s a great screenplay, but it was also a great screenplay 70 years ago.
3. I very much enjoyed watching Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, but I was also a little disappointed in it. Seeing a film absolutely take the mickey on Elon Musk is wildly entertaining, of course, but I had very high expectations going into this. The plot is clever in a lot of ways, and the characters are just as broad and ridiculous as in the first film, and Daniel Craig is having the time of his life, but perhaps my expectations were too high. This is good, but it’s not great the way the first one was, perhaps because of just how surprising the first one was.
2. I don’t entirely dislike the win for Women Talking. This is a smart screenplay and an important one in terms of what it discusses. One of the signs of a very good screenplay is how much it manages to keep the audience’s attention without anything flashy or exciting happening on the screen. Women Talking is exactly that. There’s not a great deal of flash or bang going on here, but what happens is riveting, nonetheless. My putting it in second place is no insult to it. I simply like another screenplay more.
1. My winner is All Quiet on the Western Front for a number of reasons. This is the third version of I have seen of this film, and in many ways it is the best version. This is a modern retelling of the story, and while there are definite connections to the previous filmed versions, especially the Best Picture winner of many decades ago, this is an entirely new take on the story. It’s smart, it’s brutal, and it is unrelenting, which is exactly what the story needs. It’s also very modern, taking lessons from films like 1917 and pushing it further. It should have taken this award.