The 95th Academy Awards are upon us. Last night, on March 12th, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) celebrated the exciting year of cinema that was 2022. And for the first time in a number of years, there seemed to be genuine excitement for this year’s event. Last year, the 94th Academy Awards saw a mixed bag of films from 2021 nominated, and the forgettable CODA taking away the big prize. The supremely talented Jane Campion was rightfully honoured as best director, for The Power of The Dog (although this was overshadowed by her tone deaf comments at the critic’s choice awards) and the film, arguably the best of that award season, didn’t win much else. The acting nominations were all over the place too, with good performances from soon-to-be-forgotten films taking centre stage (King Richard, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, CODA). And the less said about the previous year’s forgettable COVID-ceremony, the better.
However, 2022 was a marked improvement for the year in film, and this was rightfully reflected in this year’s Oscar’s lineup. From Baz Lurhmann’s instant camp-classic Elvis, to Martin McDonagh’s jet-black depression morality tale, The Banshee’s of Inisherin, to The Daniel’s insane ode to science-fiction/martial arts/the works of Wong Kar-wai; Everything Everywhere All at Once, it’s a refreshingly diverse line-up (at least in terms of genre, there’s still a depressing lack of representation for female filmmakers). Everything Everywhere All at Once ended up taking away the big awards which were rightly deserved.
However, while the line-up of films this year is surprisingly decent, I feel there have been some omissions. Here at mycreativeramblings.org, we wanted to rectify that. I have only chosen films that have not been nominated by the Academy. And in keeping with the Academy’s eligibility rules, the list will only contain films that had a theatrical run between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022.
So read on to find out what we would have included in the line-up, if we were running things:
BEST Actor: Nicolas Cage
The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent
The line up for best actor at this years Academy Awards was strong, if not wholly surprising. Elvis star Austin Butler was a front runner with his over-the-top yet brilliant portrayal of the king, although Brendan Fraser ended up taking the prize with his long awaited comeback in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. Although honestly, from the Academy’s nominations, I felt Paul Mescal deserved to win for his note-perfect performance in Aftersun. But in the year of 2022, there was one performance that stood out to me above all else; Nicolas Cage’s celebratory and wonderfully self-referential performance as himself in Tom Gormican’s The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Non-Cage aficionados may not appreciate the importance of this but for the rest of us, Cage in TUWOMT was the cherry on the top of a delightfully varied career.
Gormican’s direction is sadly slightly formulaic but it carries the film through different Cage set pieces. Whether he’s arguing with his younger self (based on his 1990 Wogan appearance) or performing outstanding slap stick comedy, the film is a showcase of the man’s considerable talents. His budding romance with superfan Javi (an always amazing Pedro Pascal, embodying all of us Cage fans) is another highlight, one with genuine warmth and heart. Cage proves he is still one of the most versatile and surprising actors working today. His performance is a celebration of the cult followings actors like Cage inspire. And it all serves to remind audiences that true, genuine actors-as-artists, still exist.
The 95th Academy Awards nominations for best actor (winner in bold):
Austin Butler – Elvis as Elvis Presley
Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin as Pádraic Súilleabháin
Brendan Fraser – The Whale as Charlie
Paul Mescal – Aftersun as Calum Paterson
Bill Nighy – Living as Mr. Rodney Williams
BEST Actress: Amber Midthunder
The best actress line up at this years Oscars featured some of the greatest performance of the year (and a couple of weird inclusions). The legendary Michelle Yeoh took home the prize for her phenomenal performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once, beating frontrunner Cate Blanchett, who was nominated for Tár. But some of the other choices are peculiar. Ana de Armas’ nom for Andrew Dominik’s weird, woman-hating Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde didn’t feel earned and Andrea Riseborough’s dodgy nomination for To Leslie nearly overshadowed the whole category – partly because only about three people saw the film. One breakout star who sadly wasn’t nominated – and I think due to the perceptions of the film’s genre – was Amber Midthunder in the surprisingly great Predator reboot, Prey
In a year where Everything Everywhere All At Once won all the big awards of the night, it’s a shame the Academy still seems to have a bias against genre films. Horror in particular. often seems to miss out. But Dan Trachtenberg’s Prey should definitely not be overlooked. It’s a wonderfully fun and grisly reboot of the Predator franchise and the best in the series since John McTiernan’s 1987 original – perhaps even surpassing that. Mindthunder is key to all of this, with her assured and confident portrayal of Naru, a young Comanche warrior. She nails the character beats as easily as the action ones too, delivering a beautiful and measured performance, often acting against nothing but Naru’s canine companion. The Academy may not have taken notice but Mindthunder easily gains a place amongst greatest horror movie heroes. And I can’t wait to see what she does next.
The 95th Academy Awards nominations for best actress (winner in bold):
Cate Blanchett – Tár as Lydia Tár
Ana de Armas – Blonde as Norma Jeane Mortensen / Marilyn Monroe
Andrea Riseborough – To Leslie as Leslie Rowlands
Michelle Williams – The Fabelmans as Mitzi Schildkraut-Fabelman
Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All at Once as Evelyn Quan Wang
BEST DIRECTOR: Charlotte Wells
This is a pretty big award, one of the biggest of the whole night. And to the Academy’s credit, they have a decent line up (although I feel, of the films also nominated for best picture, Baz Luhrmann probably deserved a nod for Elvis). Everything Everywhere All at Once‘s director duo, The Daniels, took home the award on the night and few people would argue with this result. However, the nominations had the glaring omission of any female directors. This is especially egregious this year saw the feature film debut of Scottish writer director, Charlotte Wells, with the poignant and beautiful Aftersun. Wells’ debut is as confident and assured as any of the directing veterans nominated by the Academy. She uses the language of film in a fresh way, delivering a devastating portrayal of mental health, parenthood, and childhood memories.
Aftersun is a film that might, on first glance, seem slight. But it soon reveals itself to be a film about so many different things. It’s a devastating portrayal of a man with suicidal ideation and also a nostalgic look at British holidaying abroad. It’s a film about a young girls first foray into adulthood and an existential rumination on the loss of a parent. It’s also a credit to Wells as writer and director that Aftersun features two of the most affecting performances of 2022, from Paul Mescal and newcomer Frankie Corio. Both give beautiful and heartbreaking performances which is in no small part to Wells’ writing and direction. Wells’ newcomer status may have held her back from being nominated this year but she will undoubtedly be gracing the Oscars stage in the future.
The 95th Academy Awards nominations for best director (winner in bold):
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
BEST Picture: Aftersun
2022 was a spectacular year in film, across all sectors, from blockbuster to art house. I shocked myself at just how much I enjoyed the spectacular Top Gun: Maverick and while Marvel films had a bit of wobble (Thor: Love and Thunder was not as strong as it’s predecessor) I felt Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was fantastic. For me it was one of the strongest superhero movies since director Sam Raimi’s previous foray into the genre with Spider-Man in the early 2000s. I also have to highlight Avatar: The Way of Water. Despite a vocal minority of detractors, I loved this film. No other film this year has made has given me the pure cinematic experience that Avatar TWOW gave me.
Ultimately though, it was the Daniel’s Everything Everywhere All at Once that took away the big award in the night – and rightly so. It was one of the most enjoyable and impeccably crafted films of the year, featuring one of the best lead performances of the year from Michelle Yeoh.
The best film for me though, lay back in the the United Kingdom. Despite an increasingly fascist government, the tail end of a pandemic, and a crippling cost of living crisis, the UK film industry managed to somehow push on. And out of that, came Charlotte Wells Aftersun. I’ve said a bit above about Wells masterful direction. But along with Wells, the film wouldn’t have worked nearly as effectively without the central performances from Paul Mescal and newcomer Frankie Corio, as father and daughter Calum and Sophie.
Frankie Corio’s brilliant performance matches that of Mescal opposite her, who is also phenomenal. The film hangs on Corio’s realistic and quietly devastating portrayal of a child on the cusp of becoming a teenager and coming to terms with her complicated and damaged father. Maybe it wasn’t showy enough for the Academy to take notice but the sheer realism of Corio’s performance is makes it so affecting. Like Charlotte Wells, Aftersun’s director, it’s clear that great things lie in the future for the film’s breakout star.
All the pieces come together to make, ultimately, a film about depression and the loss of a parent. The film can be hard to watch and no other film has delivered an ending quite like the ‘Under Pressure’ finale that Aftersun sucker-punches you with. But there are moments of real humour and warmth throughout. This difficult balance is again a testament to the talents of the stars and Wells as writer and director. The Academy may have overlooked it but don’t make their mistake; Aftersun is the best film of 2022 and is not to be missed.
The 95th Academy Awards nominations for best picture (winner in bold):
All Quiet on the Western Front
Avatar: The Way of Water
The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Top Gun: Maverick
Triangle of Sadness