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The Student Media Site of William Clarke College

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The Student Media Site of William Clarke College

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2024’s Forgotten Oscars Nomination

Image Credit: Kelly Caminero, The Daily Beast

After 4 strange, uncertain, scary, covid-filled years, it feels like theatrical films are truly back. Gone are the days of weird same-day streaming and uneventful Academy Award events and doubtful best picture wins (seriously, try naming 5 people you know who watched ‘Coda’ or ‘Nomadland’. Try 1 now. Try naming a single thing that happens in either film). Oscar buzz finally came back earlier this year and was generally a very well-received event. Exciting performances, tolerable comedic host and generally solid choices from the academy for winners (except for you, Lily Gladstone. You will get justice one day). However, now that the Academy is allowed to be picky with their nominations again (seriously, it was really bad a few years ago. Don’t Look Up was nominated for best picture, they were struggling) with such a large selection of wonderful 2023 films, a few deserving films were left without any nominations at all. I want to shine some light on these films as we wind down from awards season so that we can look at some underappreciated gems from 2023.


The Iron Claw (MA15)

‘Tonight, I walk with my brothers’

Based on the real tragedy of the Von Erich family, this riveting film follows 4 brothers born into a life of professional wrestling and the pressures, challenges and even fatalities that come as a result of that. Zac Efron steps away from his traditional comedic roles to deliver a nuanced and powerfully emotional performance as Kevin Von Erich. Complimenting him are Jeremy Allen White, Stanley Simons and Harris Dickinson starring as his brothers in the film. It explores their brotherly bond, and the immense hardships they face as they try to live up to their father’s, as well as their own, expectations. This film genuinely had me shocked that not only did the events depicted in the film happen, but were toned down for the film. Director Sean Durkin decided to not include the even further dire events of the film out of concern it felt too repetitive. He was quite literally concerned his film was too tragic.I highly recommend not that you just watch this film, but read about the true story afterwards. You’ll be shocked by what they left out.


Asteroid City (M)

“’I still don’t understand the play’

‘Doesn’t matter, just keep telling the story’”

Wes Anderson’s extensive career ranges 20 years, making wonderful works of film like ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’, ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. You’d assume with such a backlog of films, he’d already have picked up at least a few Oscars. Nope. He only just picked one up this past year for a short film he did. Granted, was deserving, but he had a whole other movie that came out the past year that should’ve certainly been up for consideration. ‘Asteroid City’ is by far his most complex and interesting work. With a dual narrative perspective that doesn’t make its conjoining theme clear until the final act, Anderson challenges his own style of filmmaking to tell its story. He’s self-aware in his weird, zany and quirky tone of filmmaking that many criticize to be guilty of ‘style over substance’.  He employs this self-awareness to essentially overload his film with Kitschy details in the first two acts as they serve as a ‘masquerade’. He’s hiding the true substance of the film until the end, evident as the characters hide their own true personal feeling until cracks begin showing in act 2, with outbursts of frustration beginning to occur. It finally opens up in the final act 3 where what may first have been considered an absence of emotion, is more of a repression of emotion. It’s here that we can look back on the film and finally pick up on the underlying themes of the quirkiness and zaniness (forgive me for being vague with the theme itself, I’m trying not to spoil the film). It’s also here that Anderson responds to critics of his style. His substance is in all his films, you just have to probe a little further. I really can’t see how this wasn’t finally the film that got Anderson his Oscar nomination, let alone win. It’s a true culmination of his work.


Beau Is Afraid (R18)

“I really thought I was gonna die, my whole life”

Ok, this one I can understand why it wasn’t nominated. From the mind of Ari Aster (‘Hereditary’, ‘Midsommar’), comes his most personal, twisted, abstract and Kafkaesque work. From that sentence alone, you can probably surmise this film is just something else. ‘Beau Is Afraid’ is a 3-hour storm that feels directly lifted from Aster’s brain. It follows a man who’s on a deeply antithetical and nightmarish version of the hero’s journey. It’s darkly comedic at points, nearly senseless at others, and completely horrifying at most. It’s easily one of the most divisive films of last year. Personally, I loved it. Easily one of my favourites of the last year, but I totally understand its critics. It doesn’t take the time to define itself, it just presents you with its contents and goes ‘there, figure it out’. It’s deeply emotive, which is where most of its senselessness and ridiculousness comes from. The film thrives on a sense of anxiety, reflected by the innocent yet flawed protagonist’s central perspective. Definitely a film that’s worth thinking about, but one I can understand its critics of. But still, even something like Best Production Design at least, c’mon.


So, if you’re bored these holidays (and of age), try out one of these films that got lost in Academy Award frenzy. Maybe you’ll agree with me, maybe you’ll agree with the academy. Either way it’s discussion, which is a filmmaker’s goal usually anyways.

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