Closer to the Big O

11 March,2023 09:00 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Mayank Shekhar

Quick Academy Awards round-up, so you’re up for the rooting game, come cinema’s biggest night

Stills from The Fabelmans

The Oscars feel like the annual exams, don't they? We mean for audiences, especially desis, with a listed syllabus - nominated films start hitting theatres, one by one. The race to wrap up at least all the Best Picture nominees (there are 10) is real.

We burnt the midnight oil last night in the theatre, hence, just to remeasure the incredible fuss over Everything Everywhere All at Once - having watched it earlier on a preview screener (meaning, cell-phone!).

You risk social isolation to say anything that isn't, but, everything is fine with the sci-fi family dramedy, Everything Everywhere! The critics, to start with, have rendered the American-Chinese production, critic-proof.

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Enough that it's apparently set to sweep the Academy Awards, on March 12, 2023, as we speak. If that happens, it might be the first for an altogether absurdist pic - and that may be a good reason for the Oscars to go that direction.

Besides the obvious. That is: It's been eight years since the #OscarsSoWhite, inward-looking movement - minutely observing the colour of its annual slate, even in terms of its voting members.

Everything Everywhere, we suspect, would've been nowhere on the scene, even until a decade ago. In terms of greenlighting + funding; critical reception of this scale can't be planned anyway.

Also Read: Jr NTR on walking the Oscars red carpet: We are going to carry the whole nation in our hearts

All Quiet on the Western Front

Besides diversity, the big issue the Oscars face is audiences - its ratings have been on a sequential decline. Not even the tight slap on host Chris Rock, straight from a desi soap opera, could save the show last year. They'd have to work on the noms to ensure the Oscars aren't an OTT awards, after all!

While cruising on aircraft simulation, along with Tom Cruise, did you think that Top Gun: Maverick would be up for Best Picture? Avatar: The Way of Water, too? The latter, yes. The former, no. The two films together account for 84 per cent box-office collections from among Best Pic nominees.

But the Oscars aren't a box-office award. They're foremost the creative compass for American cinematic output every year. Looked through that prism, it wasn't a particularly great year for Hollywood.

Let's face it - I know everyone went gaga over the gently provocative, thoroughly pertinent conflict in The Banshees of Inisherin - ‘could you get bored with a friend?' It's equally possible to find the film over-rated, if not get bored with it, once the point has been delivered.

And you might wonder why, of the two movies, emanating directly from the post-pandemic depression - entirely about a man, who wants to kill myself - The Whale, and A Man Called Otto, the former made it to the Oscars, the latter didn't?

Is it because Brendan Fraser in The Whale was way bleaker than anything you've seen on the big screen, while Tom Hanks merely reminded us of our own mortality - given all who've grown up on Forrest Gump?

Best Actor statuette, nonetheless, might simply follow the old Oscar formula of lauding the biopic - Elvis is A-grade. As for biopics, none better for a film buff than The Fabelmans, no?

IN PICS: Deepika Padukone looks like an absolute 'boss lady' as she leaves for Oscars 2023

This is Steven Spielberg, 76, telling you all too cinematically how he became the world's greatest director. For one, by picking up great, diverse material, since he doesn't write himself.

He's written-directed The Fabelmans. Best Director Oscar for his memoir would be better than a lifetime achievement award, any day. Because that's how you watched his film - like a novel, turning his life's pages. Would've worked just as well on the small screen.

Which is just not the sort of immersion that All Quiet on the Western Front is designed for - a full canvas, devastating war drama, that draws you to death and futility of war, in ways that are both subtle and obvious. But on Netflix.

Given the world, there should be a major anti-war film competing for the golden statuette every year. Or isn't that so already - wasn't another WWI masterpiece, 1917, killing it at the Oscars, with seven awards, including Best Pic, only in 2019?

Then there's the massive surprise awaiting desis, of course - the track Naatu naatu from RRR competing for the top song gong. Which makes sense, given how good Indian film music has always been. It seems normal for the kinda run RRR has had. Nobody could've predicted it, when the film opened in India.

What's better still - if The Elephant Whisperers, or All That Breathes, or both, win Documentary Oscars? What if there are three desi wins? Forget all of the above. This could be the greatest year for India at the Academy Awards. Huh!

Best Picture
Might win: Everything Everywhere All at Once
If not: All Quiet on the Western Front
Our pick (long-shot): Triangle of Sadness

Best Director
Might win: Kwan & Scheinert (Everything Everywhere)
Our pick: Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans)

Best Lead Actor (Male)
Might win: Austin Butler (Elvis)
If not: Brendan Fraser (The Whale)

Best Lead Actor (Female)
Might win: Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere)
Not seen yet: Cate Blanchett (Tar)

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