The 2023 Oscar Nominations Are A Pleasant Surprise

Aside from Deadwyler missing out on a Best Actress nod, the only major disappointments were Park Chan-wook’s superb “Decision to Leave” getting excluded from the ever unpredictable International Feature Film category, and Gina Prince-Bythewood’s immensely satisfying “The Woman King” failing to earn a single nomination. The latter is particularly surprising given its mainstream appeal and box-office success. It felt like a sure-fire Oscar movie from jump. I’ve seen some pundits suggest that it was too entertaining, but that theory falls completely apart with the Best Picture nomination of “Top Gun: Maverick.” In any event, Prince-Bythewood’s day will come (and while we’re waiting, you should check out her wonderful “Love & Basketball” and “Beyond the Lights” if you’ve never seen them).

And while I think Darren Aronofsky is a world-class filmmaker when he’s on his game (as he was with 2017’s “mother!”), “The Whale” was a baffling whiff. I’m relieved that the stiffly-written, stagily-directed awards wannabe couldn’t crack the Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay categories.

The worst I can say about the 2023 Oscar nominations is that they were mostly to form. The pundits’ predictions were spot-on, but, then again, there wasn’t much room for error. That’s fine, but it’s also not a lot of fun. We need more Riseboroughs and “RRR”s. Now that we know there’s room for them in the Oscar derby, there’s no excuse to not continue pushing the boundaries.

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