Friday, February 9, 2024

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Director 2022

The Contenders:

Martin McDonagh: The Banshees of Inisherin
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert: Everything Everywhere All at Once (winners)
Steven Spielberg: The Fabelmans
Todd Field: TÁR
Ruben Ostlund: Triangle of Sadness
What’s Missing

I don’t love a lot of Oscar’s choices for 2022 in terms of nominations, which means that we’re going to be covering a lot of familiar territory in the suggestions. When it comes to Best Director, that’s going to start with Mark Mylod and The Menu, a film that hides its cards beautifully and comes to a fantastic climax. We also need to talk about Edward Berger and All Quiet on the Western Front, which picks up where 1917 left off and ramps it up to 11. I think it’s also worth bringing up Matt Reeves and The Batman, a film that could have been retread and absolutely was not. I also want to toss out a nod to George Miller for Three Thousand Years of Longing, a film that really plays with narrative structure and never drops the ball.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. I don’t love putting Spielberg in fifth place, and while The Fabelmans is a fine film, I don’t know that watching Spielberg essentially go through therapy on screen is worth nominating. Our boy Steven seems to get a nomination regularly in part because of who he is and it seems wrong to not have him in the ceremony somewhere, kind of like Meryl Streep. Oscar needs to look outside its narrow field of dramas with token nominations from other genres, because there were genre film directors who should be here instead.

4. I’m going to say something similar about TÁR and Todd Field. Field doesn’t have the gravitas that Spielberg does, but Cate Blanchett certainly does, and this was her film as much as it was Field’s. My issue here is that this movie is too long for the story it wants to tell, and while we can look at the screenplay for the start of this problem, it eventually falls on the shoulders of the director, who could have sliced out 20-30 minutes without damaging the story. Length isn’t a guarantor of quality or importance, and TÁR is proof.

3. The Banshees of Inisherin is a fine little film, and I like what Martin McDonagh did with it. It’s intimate and small, but it’s always fascinating, and the story is beautifully told. My metric for Best Director is not the story itself or the production, but the storytelling, and this is one of the best-told stories of this year. I’m not going to give McDonagh the win, but I’m happy he’s here, because this is such an odd little tale, but it’s told with precision and care, and even a touch of whimsy in the face of something that could, in places, slip easily into horror.

2. I will admit that at least a part of my love for the nomination of Ruben Ostlund is that Triangle of Sadness is a huge middle finger to both the 1% and to toxic influencer culture. This is another movie that plays hard with narrative structure, and plays less like a single film and more like three connected shorts. It would be easy to lose control of this, and Ostlund never does. The story stays understandable and coherent and never loses focus, when that focus would be very easy to scatter in a thousand directions. In a year with a less obvious winner, he’d be an easy choice.

My Choice

1. The clear winner, though, is the Daniels and Everything Everywhere All at Once. In the science fiction/fantasy world of films, the idea of the multiverse (thanks to the MCU) has become the flavor of the month, and you don’t have to look too hard to spot another movie that plays with realities connecting and disconnecting. But no one has done this in a more coherent and interesting manner than the Daniels and this film. The fact that this is intelligible at all, let alone coherent, interesting, and fascinating is a testament to their skill. Right choice, easy choice.

Final Analysis


  1. The only nominee in that list that I saw were the winners and yeah, the Oscars got it right.

    1. I think you would take perverse delight in Triangle of Sadness.

    2. Probably although I didn't think Ruben Ostlund's last film The Square was that great.

    3. It's worth a shot. It feels like three short films tied together, but the point of it is fantastic.