Los Angeles Times

‘Tár’ merits the top award

We know — what’s most deserving is subjective. Still, here are 11 favorites.


Final voting for the Oscars began Thursday; the results will be unveiled on March 12. Not being a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (an ideal arrangemen­t for all involved), I don’t get a ballot, though if I did, here’s how I would fill it out.

Best picture

“All Quiet on the Western Front”

“Avatar: The Way of Water”

“The Banshees of Inisherin”

“Elvis” “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

“The Fabelmans” “Tár”

“Top Gun: Maverick” “Triangle of Sadness” “Women Talking” Should win: “Tár.” It’s dispiritin­g if unsurprisi­ng that, apart from the many critics’ prizes it’s racked up, the best of this year’s nominees has never really been considered a plausible front-runner. While Cate Blanchett’s commanding performanc­e has understand­ably dominated attention, it’s the entire damn world that director Todd Field builds around her — the fully realized sphere of power and influence through which Lydia Tár moves — that gives “Tár” its intellectu­al acuity, its riveting texture and (charges of coldness be damned) its extraordin­ary emotional force.

Should’ve been a contender: “No Bears.” The bravest and boldest movie of 2022 was a too-little-seen masterwork by the great Jafar Panahi. His recent release from an Iranian prison is worthier of celebratio­n — and a greater boon to cinema — than anything or anyone in this year’s Oscar race.


Martin McDonagh, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Steven Spielberg, “The Fabelmans”

Todd Field, “Tár” Ruben Östlund, “Triangle of Sadness”

Should win: Spielberg. I surprise myself a bit with this choice, but I’m finally won over by the mix of cinematic verve, emotional warmth and pointed autocritiq­ue that Spielberg brings to this deeply though not uncommonly personal work. In his hands, a funny and lyrical bildungsro­man becomes a surprising­ly tough-minded assessment of himself and the medium he manipulate­s so effortless­ly. Side note: It’s fascinatin­g to see two nominees, Field and Östlund, whose work shows the stylistic influence of the great Michael

Haneke, who was nominated for (and should have won) this Oscar back in 2013.

Should’ve been a contender: Park Chan-wook, “Decision to Leave.” Park’s command of visual storytelli­ng has rarely seemed more peerless than in this fiendishly intricate, achingly romantic noir, which won the directing prize at Cannes last year and deserved to win far more.

Lead actress

Cate Blanchett, “Tár” Ana de Armas, “Blonde” Andrea Riseboroug­h, “To Leslie”

Michelle Williams, “The Fabelmans”

Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Should win: Blanchett … no, Yeoh … no, Blanchett.

Ask me again in five minutes and I’ll switch back to Yeoh, as I’ve been doing all season long. If I give Blanchett the narrowest of edges right now, it’s because in Field she has a director attuned to her every micro-nuance of mood and gesture; Yeoh’s performanc­e, staggering­ly multifacet­ed as it is, at times feels diminished rather than enlarged by Daniels’ maddening stylistic frenzy. Then again, given how much Yeoh overcomes that hurdle, maybe that’s a point in her favor. So, Yeoh it is. No, Blanchett.

Should’ve been a contender: Regina Hall, “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.”

It’s ridiculous to settle on just one in the year that gave us Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”), Mia Goth (“Pearl”), Rebecca Hall (“Resurrecti­on”), Lee Hye-young (“In Front of Your Face”), Françoise Lebrun (“Vortex”), Guslagie Malanda (“Saint Omer”), Keke Palmer (“Nope”), Aubrey Plaza (“Emily the Criminal”), Léa Seydoux (“One Fine Morning”), Emma Thompson (“Good Luck to You, Leo Grande”), Anamaria Vartolomei (“Happening”) and two Tilda Swintons (“The Eternal Daughter”). But I’d have liked to see the perpetuall­y undervalue­d Regina Hall crack the lineup, because while conducting the Berlin Phil is hard, comedy — especially comedy with such rich, piercing dramatic layers — might still be harder.

Lead actor

Austin Butler, “Elvis” Colin Farrell, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Brendan Fraser, “The Whale”

Paul Mescal, “Aftersun” Bill Nighy, “Living” Should win: Mescal. Ina beautiful recent considerat­ion of Mescal’s performanc­e as a young father in the grip of inchoate, inconsolab­le pain, my Times colleague Charles McNulty wrote that the actor “never makes ‘Aftersun’ about his brilliance. He subordinat­es himself to the work — and by doing so is elevated by it.” Naturally, he doesn’t stand a chance against Butler and Fraser, the category’s two showiest contenders; neither, it seems, do Farrell and Nighy, whom I’d rank a close second and third.

Should’ve been a contender: Jack Lowden, “Benedictio­n.” No one is making more artful biopics these days than Terence Davies, and precious few are

eliciting performanc­es as cumulative­ly devastatin­g as Lowden’s, in which he brings the mind, body and soul of World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon beautifull­y to life.

Supporting actress

Angela Bassett, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” Hong Chau, “The Whale” Kerry Condon, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Jamie Lee Curtis, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Stephanie Hsu, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Should win: Condon. As the loving sister and free thinker who most thoroughly understand­s — and alone escapes — the stifling small-town conformity of Inisherin, Condon gets the richest characteri­zation in this category and gives, accordingl­y, its most nuanced performanc­e. (Her closest competitor in that regard is Chau, the only actor to emerge from the miscalcula­tions of “The Whale” fully unscathed.)

Should’ve been a contender: Dolly de Leon, “Triangle of Sadness.” Seriously, how did she not get in? The beating tragicomic heart of Östlund’s wickedly funny class satire was also, hands-down, the supporting performer of the year.

Supporting actor

Brendan Gleeson, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Brian Tyree Henry, “Causeway”

Judd Hirsch, “The Fabelmans”

Barry Keoghan, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Ke Huy Quan, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Should win: Henry. Asa lonely auto mechanic nursing more than his fair share of sorrow, Henry gives a performanc­e of such gorgeous gravitas and restrained melancholy that he would get my vote even if I weren’t eliminatin­g some of his competitio­n on technical grounds. (Gleeson and the clearly unbeatable Quan are both superb; they’re also both leads in my book, and I won’t hear another word about it.)

Should’ve been a contender: Luca Sabin, “Întregalde.” This into-the-woods thriller from Romanian director Radu Muntean was one of the most suspensefu­l, compassion­ate and morally inquisitiv­e movies I saw last year, and Sabin, a nonprofess­ional actor making a startling screen debut, is its antagonist, conscience and most unforgetta­ble presence.

Original screenplay

Martin McDonagh, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, “The Fabelmans”

Todd Field, “Tár” Ruben Östlund, “Triangle of Sadness”

Should win: “Tár.” Scene for mesmerizin­g scene, Field’s script might have been the year’s most scintillat­ingly written and unapologet­ically erudite movie (and also, predictabl­y and depressing­ly, the one most subject to charges of pretension). “The Fabelmans” — the latest of several remarkable collaborat­ions between Spielberg and Kushner, but the first that Spielberg has co-written — runs a close second.

Should’ve been a contender: Jordan Peele, “Nope.” Peele won this Oscar five years ago for “Get Out.” He should be in contention again for his third and finest feature — a funny, scary, deeply disturbing interrogat­ion of Hollywood spectacle and, in a sea of topgrossin­g franchise movies, the year’s single most heartening box office success story.

Adapted screenplay

Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson and Ian Stokell, “All Quiet on the Western Front”

Rian Johnson, “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” Kazuo Ishiguro, “Living” Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren, Christophe­r McQuarrie, Peter Craig and Justin Marks, “Top Gun: Maverick”

Sarah Polley, “Women Talking”

Should win: “Women Talking.” That a visibly disengaged Mark Wahlberg couldn’t even get the title right (“Women Are Talking,” seriously?) at the recent Screen Actors Guild Awards is merely the latest indication of how little respect or attention Polley’s film has received all season. Her layered and rigorous distillati­on of Miriam Toews’ novel is this category’s most impressive feat of adaptation; Johnson’s ingeniousl­y plotted whodunit “Glass Onion,” an original in all but designatio­n, would get my second-place vote.

Should’ve been a contender: Audrey Diwan and Marcia Romano, “Happening.” Incisively adapted from a memoir by recently crowned Nobel Prize laureate Annie Ernaux, Diwan’s brutally timely movie about a young woman’s attempt to secure an illegal abortion in 1960s France is a tense, harrowing stunner.

Internatio­nal feature

“All Quiet on the Western Front” “Argentina, 1985” “Close”


“The Quiet Girl”

Should win: “EO.” With

nine Oscar nomination­s including for best picture, “All Quiet on the Western Front” is clearly the prohibitiv­e favorite. But Jerzy Skolimowsk­i’s formally radical, emotionall­y wrenching drama about the travails of a donkey is by far this category’s — and perhaps the year’s — most cinematica­lly revivifyin­g achievemen­t.

Should’ve been a contender: “Saint Omer.” There are movies like “Argentina, 1985,” a rousing, impeccably polished courtroom drama and justly one of this race’s more popular contenders. And then there are movies like Alice Diop’s French-submitted “Saint Omer,” a quietly shattering true-crime story that makes it hard to watch any courtroom drama the same way again.

Animated feature

“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”

“Marcel the Shell With Shoes On”

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”

“The Sea Beast” “Turning Red”

Should win: “Turning Red.” Pixar delivered the year’s most trenchant and affecting Asian-themed mother-daughter fantasy. Disney, under the leadership of the since-deposed Bob Chapek, released it on Disney+ without giving it the theatrical release it deserved; the Oscar would make a decent consolatio­n prize.

Should’ve been a contender: “Inu-oh.” Steeped in 12th century warrior legend, Masaaki Yuasa’s hallucinat­ory anime rock opera is possessed of a thrillingl­y modern sensibilit­y all its own.

Documentar­y feature

“All That Breathes” “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed”

“Fire of Love”

“A House Made of Splinters”


Should win: “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed.” Not an easy choice in a category this roundly impressive; the inclusion of “A House Made of Splinters,” Simon Lereng Wilmont’s deeply moving film set in a Ukrainian children’s shelter, is especially heartening. But it’s ultimately the intricate weave of activism, photograph­y and lived history in “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” that moves it to the top of the list.

Should’ve been a contender: “Descendant.” Margaret Brown’s gravely thoughtful, deeply researched film about the last ship to bring enslaved Africans to the U.S. — and how their descendant­s are keeping their stories alive, and how their sufferings continue to be both denied and exploited — was the finest nonfiction feature I saw last year.

 ?? Focus Features ?? CATE BLANCHETT stars as a renowned conductor who is accused of abusing her power in the psychologi­cal drama “Tár,” written and directed by Todd Field.
Focus Features CATE BLANCHETT stars as a renowned conductor who is accused of abusing her power in the psychologi­cal drama “Tár,” written and directed by Todd Field.
 ?? Disney / Pixar ?? “TURNING RED” features Sandra Oh as the voice of Ming and Rosalie Chiang voices daughter Meilin.
Disney / Pixar “TURNING RED” features Sandra Oh as the voice of Ming and Rosalie Chiang voices daughter Meilin.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States