Best Picture Winner

So Ends the second section of Best Pictures…

And…we’re done.

The first twenty-four films and twenty-three years have been covered, and things do seem to be improving from an artistic perspective. Do I always agree with the Academy’s choices from an artistic point of view? Not really, but nothing is nearly as bad as Cimarron, and there does seem to be a consistent desire to award good films, which is nice.

It’s also worth noting that up through 1946, the films awarded were consistently big earners, being in the top ten biggest films of the year, but thing changed the following year with Gentleman’s Agreement while far from a box office flop, was just outside the top ten. The same can be said for Hamlet the next year and All the King’s Men the year after. All About Eve ended at #10. The mentality had changed from rewarding producers who risked much and gained much and more towards artistic merit. We’re not at the point where a film just seen in New York and Los Angeles by a few dozen people can win, but the accidental populism of the earlier awards is already being shorn away.

Still, it’s not like these are bad films (well…Gentleman’s Agreement…), but that’s a nice place to leave it for now. I need a small break.

Also, since last night was the 95th Oscar ceremony, let me write down some thoughts about the win for Everything Everywhere All At Once.

I like the film, and I feel no real emotion about its win. If I were an Academy voter, I would have probably voted for Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans, though I’ve only seen four of the ten nominees. However, I see an effort on the part of the Academy voters to reclaim some level of cultural cache with the mass audience. Sure, there were other films that could have more effectively done that (Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water in particular), but EEAO is an independent film that made just over $100 million at the world wide box office and over $70 million from the US box office alone. The last movie that made that much at the US box office and won Best Picture was Green Book in 2018 (almost $85 million in the US) and then Argo in 2012 (about $130 million). The big thing, though, was that, on social media, there was noise for it. A lot of noise.

It felt like a populist groundswell (maybe it was all genuine, I dunno, but social media is part of media, and A24 wants Oscars as much as the next studio, so I wouldn’t put it past them to pay for supporters), and if you live in the film bubble, it felt like populism to a certain extent.

So, Everything Everywhere All At Once is an attempt to reclaim some level of populism that’s probably going to misfire when it comes to the larger culture. It’s still something of a bubble movie and much more divisive than its most ardent fans seem to realize. But still, I think it’s pretty good.


4 thoughts on “So Ends the second section of Best Pictures…”

  1. Now to catch up…if the puppy will let me.

    I like Michelle Yeoh quite a lot, I saw a lot of her early work in my Hong Kong cinema days, but the more I hear about EEAO, the less interested in it I am. Mostly due to the characters and the editing, from what I’ve read.


    1. What I find most interesting about it is that it’s the tackling of nihilism from people who don’t seem to have any kind of underlying philosophy on life or religion. “The only thing worth living for is family” is such a thin way to look at life, a completely material outlook, that it’s a wonder nihilism came into it so naturally. I’ve observed that the film’s message seems to hit hardest with people who tend to be unmoored from established religion in particular, looking for meaning in a current culture that demands no attachment to anything permanent.

      I mean, I find it an entertaining look into that kind of mindset, but I can’t get around to calling it some kind of masterpiece. At least it’s pretty consistently funny.


      1. Well, ‘family first and foremost’ is literally the message behind Confucius Analects. Despite the best efforts of the Communists, it has never been completely removed from Chinese culture. And when your government is alternatively cruel or neglectful, living for your family does make some sense if you reject the divine.

        I’ve never had any sympathy for nihilists so if EEAO is anti-nihilism, good for it.


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