On Sunday, March 12th, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted the 95th annual Oscars, an award show celebrating the best in film. All the films and actors were extraordinary this past year. However, the Oscars left us feeling a mix of both happy and disappointed. Here is our review of Actor and Actress in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Picture, Best Visual Effects, and Best International Feature Film. 

Actress in a Leading Role

This award went to Michelle Yeoh for her passionate performance in Everything Everywhere All At Once. Yeoh plays laundromat owner Evelyn Wang, who struggles to make ends meet alongside her husband, Waymond, played by fellow Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan. In the film, Evelyn travels through the multiverse, where she sees all her possible lives, all the while trying to save the world. The movie is creative, funny, and heartwarming, and Yeoh’s layered performance perfectly captures Evelyn in each universe. Not only is this Yeoh’s first Oscar, but it is also the first Best Actress Oscar to go to an Asian American actress. This makes Yeoh the first woman of color to win the award in 20 years, breaking boundaries for girls and women around the world. Although Yeoh is a clear winner, the other nominees’ performances are definitely notable. Cate Blanchett’s meticulous performance in Tár undoubtedly deserves recognition. Blanchett portrayed Lydia Tár extraordinarily realistically, with a blend of seriousness and absurdity that created the perfect social commentary on power abuse. Additionally, Ana De Armas superbly embodied Marilyn Monroe in the biopic Blonde. 

Actor in a Supporting Role

Ke Huy Quan won this award for his role as Waymond Wang in Everything Everywhere All At Once. In the movie, Quan plays multiple versions of his character, from Evelyn’s sweet and loving husband to an expert multiverse traveler. Quan’s ability to shift from character to character is flawless. Aside from his performance, Quan’s acceptance speech was a tear-jerker: he recounted his journey to America and how he got his start in Hollywood. Quan explained how he came to America on a boat and spent a year in a refugee camp before getting into acting. After being in the business for so long and taking part in such iconic films as The Goonies and Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, it’s about time Quan’s talent and commitment to the industry was rewarded. Quan explained in his speech, “Dreams are something you have to believe in. I almost gave up on mine to all of you out there please, to all of you out there, please keep your dreams alive.”

Actor in a Leading Role

In the past, this award has often come down to an actor’s dedication to his role: for example, Joaquin Phoenix lost 52 pounds for Joker, and Leonardo DiCaprio slept in an Animal carcass for The Revenant. Past winners sacrificed a lot, and it’s pretty obvious that the Academy chooses the winners based on how much dedication they have to the role and how willing they are to commit to their character. This is why we believe The Whale’s Brendan Fraser did not deserve this win. His performance was moving, but largely consisted of him sobbing into the camera. Putting on a fat suit and crying a lot doesn’t show the commitment or character complexity a winner should demonstrate. We think the basis for this award should be dedication, and in that case, Austin Butler should have won for his portrayal of Elvis Presley in Elvis. He stayed in his accent non-stop for over two years to perfect it, and even isolated himself from his friends and family to embrace his character, showing his dedication to the role. His stunning performance was well worth it.

Best Picture

How can we compare movies like Tár and Top Gun: Maverick?.  They are completely different in content and theme: one is a sophisticated movie with social commentary on prestige, and the other is a sequel to a family sit-down classic. This category is broad and subjective, but we think Top Gun: Maverick should have won over Everything Everywhere All At Once. Lead actor Tom Cruise is an incredibly talented and renowned actor who really brought his A game to the Top Gun sequel. Cruise’s co-star and lead actor in Whiplash Miles Teller perfectly embodied the playful Bradley Bradshaw, from the first movie. Aside from acting, the cinematography was spectacular. The sequel pays close attention to parallel shots from the original movie like the opening scene showing the beautiful ocean and sun rising as planes come shooting in.The movie also has a parallel from the beach volleyball scene in the first movie where the characters are playing football to “We Ain’t Worried” by OneRepublic, further honoring the iconic ‘80s movie.  Top Gun: Maverick used real fighter planes for filming, which reflects a true commitment to its authenticity. The Top Gun: Maverick soundtrack is filled with classics like “Take My Breath Away” and “Danger Zone,” and some newer songs like “I Ain’t Worried” and “Hold My Hand.” The soundtrack not only enhances the movie as a whole, but also emphasizes the nostalgia of the original movie, paying homage to the original songs. The winner for Best picture needs to have a decent storyline, soundtrack, and theme, as well as good acting and Top Gun: Maverick is the complete package, featuring great songs, acting, visuals, and of course great popularity, making it the perfect movie for all to enjoy.

Best Visual Effects

For this award, there really only was one right answer, and thankfully the Academy chose correctly. Avatar: The Way of Water was the clear winner as soon as it hit theaters. It took five years to come to life, and it was worth the wait. The visual effects transported us to Pandora and beyond. Every mythical creature looked surreal and elegant. It was the most realistic-looking animated movie we had ever seen, and by the end, the colorful scenery made us want to move to Pandora. There were carefully crafted details throughout the whole new world they created, from a singular lead to the animal Ilu.

Best International Feature Film

Though this may be controversial, we don’t think All Quiet on the Western Front should have won. Don’t get us wrong, we’re all for a powerful war movie, but we didn’t shed a tear while watching this one. Argentina, 1985, however, was spectacular. They were able to take a dark, underappreciated period in Argentina’s history and make it entertaining, enlightening, and funny. We laughed at the witty one liners, and cried at the heartbreaking story while also being stunned as it educated us on the horrible kidnapping that took place during the fascist regime in Argentina. The acting was decent, but the overall storyline and portrayal of the trial really made it stand out. It incorporated recorded scenes from the actual trial in 1985, truly tying itself to the history. It felt like we were watching the historic trial just as it had occurred, and the movie overall kept us hooked until the end.

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