Screaming banshees (of Inisherin), it’s Oscar nominations week, and tongues are wagging about who’s been snubbed. (Spoiler, it’s nearly the entire population of Wakanda.) The (hopefully) slap-free Academy Awards arrive in March, so we’re mere months away from my favorite night of the year: eveningwear, everywhere, all at once.
There are two dressing camps on the night. People tend to do old-school Hollywood glam—Michelle Williams in saffron yellow immediately springs to mind, as does pale blue Lupita—or go for more controversial (code word for undiluted, unabashedly batshit) looks—the swan dress, head-to-toe American Express cards, Celine Dion’s backward suit, Angelina Jolie’s right leg. It’s always a bit sad to see girlies in magnificent dresses leaving empty-handed, but what can you do? Rihanna has a best-song nomination for her Black Panther ditty, so at least we’ll get a Fenty step-and-repeat. I’d also love to see co-nominee Lady Gaga in a vegan version of the meat dress, all oats and tofu, but she tends to lean more Disney adult when it comes to these Oscar bonanzas.
And so to the nom nom noms. I haven’t seen all the films, but that won’t stop me from giving you my piping-hot takeaways; all opinions are deeply, embarrassingly my own here. Best picture is the jewel in the crown of the night, and my favorite winner by a country mile is still
La La Land Moonlight. This year’s spread is broad, and I have to say that Triangle of Sadness fucked me up quite badly with its searing, hilarious, profound, and puerile takedown of capitalism. The cinematic flume from Below Deck to Lord of the Flies via mass-vomiting fest is a jolly romp that manages to also pull at the sordid human dynamics that come into play around wealth, survival, and, weirdly, the value of diamonds versus pretzel sticks. The Oscars are notoriously polite, almost sanitized—lots of past winners are enchanting depictions of the glamour of Hollywood—and we haven’t enjoyed such filmic filth since The Favourite. I encourage you to get mucky.
What else? The Fabelmans is good because it’s nice to see the origin story of the man who gave us Jurassic Park and Jaws. For the first 20 minutes, I couldn’t work out why Michelle Williams had taken such a backseat, 1950s-suburban-mom part, and then her role sort of explodes into a supernova of feeling and the rest of the film orbits her performance. By way of Austin Butler, Elvis’s deep voice is an anchor in a dizzying film, a port in the storm of rapid cuts. I only made it a third of the way through the trauma-fest of Blonde, but if Ana de Armas wears a Kim Kardashian dress to the Oscars, it will feel like some kind of red-carpet justice. I wish I’d had a helping hand with the character naming in Top Gun: Maverick because everyone is called Trigger or Cyclone or Brute like the writers raided ’70s cologne ads for inspo. Everything Everywhere All at Once has a notorious lesbian sausage sequence—I wish I had more to say, but honestly what more could you want?
Finally, I will not know peace until I have achieved the bitterly stark aesthetic of Cate Blanchett’s composer and conductor Lydia Tár as she prepares for the live recording of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. I’ve barely stopped thinking about that darn film since I illegally streamed it in the UK. (Cate, if you’re reading this, send me your Venmo and I’ll cough up.) The film is a master class in dissecting the trope of creative excellence as we watch an unscrupulous groomer, a terrifyingly calculated villain, emerge from an astute and aspirational lifestyle. The final act descends from exacting, immersive, credible world-building into a near-surrealist sequence that leaves us with more questions than answers. As her timekeeping right hand is crushed in a fall, is time itself now unable to be kept? Are the spirits she mentions at the New Yorker(–style) festival exacting vengeance? Who put the spooky-as-fuck metronome on? Is it all a fever dream after she bashes her head? As audiences, we like nice bows, we like Hollywood endings and happily ever afters, but Tár’s unresolvedness, its refusal to succinctly conclude, plays on my mind like her quietly weaponized cello concerto. And what is art, if not up to the recipient to interpret? An Oscar for Blanchett, please!