On Screen: 2023 Oscars Best Picture Nominees

Digital illustration by Reid Alexander.

In this special edition of On Screen, Alex Gerson and Edie Carey watch and review all ten of the Best Picture nominees for the 2023 Academy Awards.

All Quiet on the Western Front

The newest remake of the classic novel by the same name—its third film adaptation—is everything a war movie should be. Set toward the end of World War I, the film follows Paul (Felix Kammerer), a German soldier on the front lines. It paints a bleak, brutal and unrelenting picture of life during war. While some movies glorify war or use it as a tool to inspire hope, All Quiet on the Western Front remains utterly hopeless, much to the film’s benefit. The movie shifts between Paul’s experience on the battlefield and the peace negotiations between Germany and France, which is where the movie loses some steam. The battle scenes are so well shot and choreographed with incredible special effects, and the story of the negotiations not only lacks those technical achievements but is also much less interesting. The film runs at just over 140 minutes, and I think the movie could have been shorter and still told a worthwhile story without focusing on the negotiations. Despite that small flaw, however, All Quiet on the Western Front is a well-made film and is definitely worth watching. –Alex Gerson

Alex’s rating: 8/10 

Avatar: The Way of Water

Avatar: The Way of Water is over three hours long, but I’ll keep this review short: It was not good. A decade after the events of the first movie, protagonist Jake Sully and his family are in grave danger as humans are attempting to again colonize Pandora, the home of the Naʼvi people. If you’re interested in seeing impressive visual effects, then I highly recommend Avatar. Personally, the blue people freak me out, and the three-hour runtime made it a grueling watch. The effects are undeniably amazing, although they could not save the weak plot and even weaker dialogue. However, in the third act, the dynamics between the characters, as conveyed in dialogue, finally brought me in emotionally. I can’t help but admire director James Cameron’s ability to bring people back to movie theaters—while raking in hoards of cash. I hope Avatar: The Way of Water is a step toward reviving the movie theater experience as it was before the pandemic, but you would have to pay me to watch the film again. –Edie Carey

Edie’s rating: 4/10

The Banshees of Inisherin

Last year when Alex and I watched the 2022 Best Picture nominees, I reviewed Belfast, Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical film set in Northern Ireland. Here I am again, reviewing another Irish picture, but this time, with a much more engaging premise. On a remote island off the west coast of Ireland, friends Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson) have been going to the same pub every day for years. All of a sudden, Colm ends their bromance, with no explanation besides saying Pádraic is “dull.” Farrell, Gleeson and supporting actors Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon are fantastic, especially Farrell, whose eyebrows should get a nomination of their own. Writer and director Martin McDonagh’s screenplay made me understand why he is such a successful playwright in addition to a filmmaker; his captivating dialogue carries the film, even in its slowest plot moments, and his use of Irish dialect makes the banter especially witty. But by the end of the movie, I felt as though the two main characters hadn’t added, beyond the obvious, to the archetypes they were clearly representing: the two sides of the Irish Civil War. I found the interpersonal conflict to be too blunt a metaphor for the war, and it did not captivate me as I was hoping. The Banshees of Inisherin wasn’t my favorite, but it has a lot going for it. –Edie Carey

Edie’s rating: 7/10


While I can always appreciate an absolutely insane, extravagant and over-the-top film, which Elvis certainly is, I cannot in good conscience call it a good movie. The biopic follows the rise of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) told through the eyes of his exploitative manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), recounting Presley’s life after the rockstar was pronounced dead. Every scene is jam-packed with radiant colors and exuberant sound design, fitting for Las Vegas, where much of the film is set. Director Baz Luhrmann is known for his energetic style, and Elvis is no exception to his canon. But that energy tires out quickly, and as the film delves into Elvis Presley’s dark private life, Luhrmann’s style only serves to give the viewer painful visual and auditory whiplash. The film alternates between musical sequences and utterly depressing scenes too quickly for the viewer to take them in. By the end of the two hours and 39 minutes, I was, frankly, exhausted. Butler as Elvis is fantastic throughout, and the entire cast is fitted in astonishing costumes—but Hanks’ performance is just plain bad. Even Butler’s gyrating hips failed to woo me as they did his fangirls in the film. –Edie Carey

Edie’s rating: 4/10

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Everything Everywhere All at Once, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, is the most fun movie of 2022. It follows a Chinese-American immigrant, Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), as she struggles to keep her family business afloat and as her relationships with her husband and daughter remain strained. However, Evelyn is quickly brought into a plot to save the multiverse from complete destruction. At first, the plot might seem too ridiculous and high-concept to be considered for Best Picture, but Everything Everywhere’s family-driven foundation keeps the film grounded throughout. Though the film constantly ventures into the multiverse, the family conflict and relationship between Evelyn and her daughter remain present with emotionally potent scenes. The film is excellently edited with great action scenes that call back to many martial arts films. It’s also an absurdly funny movie where some of the jokes border on nihilistic. It’s certainly not a film for everyone, but Everything Everywhere’s combination of a high-concept story and emotional foundation made it my favorite movie of 2022. –Alex Gerson

Alex’s rating: 9/10

The Fabelmans

A Steven Spielberg film is in the running for Best Picture for the second year in a row. The Fabelmans is his semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story, following aspiring filmmaker Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) as he grows up, discovers his love of movies and witnesses his parents’ marriage fall apart. Although fictional, the film is heavily based on Spielberg’s childhood. Paul Dano and Michelle Williams give wonderful performances as Sammy’s parents, and LaBelle was very compelling. Like some of Spielberg’s other films, The Fabelmans is equal parts cheesy and earnest, but not to a significant fault. It’s a nice tribute to cinema and, in possibly the most justified self-aggrandizing way, to Spielberg’s own genius as a filmmaker. But the dialogue just isn’t that strong, and the emotional dynamics between the characters don’t seem to run that deep. Spielberg clearly put a lot of heart into The Fabelmans, and even though it isn’t an outstanding film, it is pleasant to watch. –Edie Carey

Edie’s rating: 6/10


Directed by Todd Field, Tár follows the eponymous Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett), a world-renowned conductor at the height of her career. Throughout the film, Tár experiences strife at home with her wife and in her orchestra, particularly as her public image suffers after a former mentee commits suicide. Though Tár is a character study through and through, it also works as a kind of psychological drama. There are a few surreal scenes where it is tough for the audience to discern whether what they’re seeing is true; since the film centers around Tár’s perspective, it isn’t clear if we’re seeing the story objectively or through her eyes. Tár is filled with beautiful cinematography, sound design and editing; every frame of the film has something to be impressed by. Blanchett’s performance is the cherry on top—she deserves the Oscar for Actress in a Leading Role. Aside from the slightly long runtime, every aspect of Tár is nearly perfect, making it one of the best movies of 2022. –Alex Gerson

Alex’s rating: 9/10

Top Gun: Maverick

I’m going to preface this review by saying that I don’t think Top Gun: Maverick is a Best Picture–worthy film. But it was one of the highest-grossing films of the year and was fun to watch in theaters. You won’t be surprised by Top Gun. It’s a classic Tom Cruise movie, which, despite its predictability, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s filled with incredible stunts and a premise that is just barely good enough to supplement the action and massive setpieces. For fans of the original movie, Maverick will do everything you want it to as a sequel, and new fans will be impressed by the action scenes. It’s an okay movie, but, to me, its generic script and failure to branch out from the original film hold it back from being a contender for Best Picture. –Alex Gerson

Alex’s rating: 6/10

Triangle of Sadness

I feel like I should have loved Triangle of Sadness. It focuses on similar themes of wealth as television shows like Succession and The White Lotus, two of my favorites of late. But director Ruben Östlund’s film—which follows a couple of supermodel influencers on a luxury cruise—lacks the emotional hook that Succession and The White Lotus have. The film never draws you in and connects you to the characters, who often come off as one-dimensional, leaving the audience feeling removed from the film. The film is told in three distinct chapters, but the chapters feel tonally different from one another. While the chapters have the potential to make the film feel fresh, they end up making it feel disjointed narratively. The film is certainly beautifully shot, but the movie feels like it is always taking a big swing at tackling subjects of wealth, and it’s unfortunate that more often than not, it swings and misses. –Alex Gerson

Alex’s rating: 5/10

Women Talking

Sarah Polley’s Women Talking is set in an ultraconservative and isolated religious colony where women have been drugged and sexually assaulted by the men in their community. They must decide if they should stay and attempt to fight their attackers or leave the colony. Most of the film is, yes, simply women talking, alongside brief but nonetheless horrifying flashbacks. The true horror in Women Talking is revealed skillfully through the conversations between the women, with talented actresses portraying every one of them; I was surprised to learn that none were nominated for best leading or supporting actress. The decision to focus on the conversations among the women rather than depict the attacks against them is surprising, but it provides the viewer with original insight into the women’s often overlooked perspectives. With few exceptions, the dialogue is extremely strong, and it kept me engaged throughout the lengthy conversations. My biggest issue with the film is its desaturated color grading, which is intended to show how bleak the lives of the women are but just makes the film unappealing to look at. Of the films I watched, however, Women Talking is my favorite; it addresses sexual assault directly and in a fresh, impactful way. –Edie Carey

Edie’s rating: 8/10

Edie’s ideal pick for Best Picture: Women Talking

Alex’s ideal pick for Best Picture: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Edie’s prediction for Best Picture: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Alex’s prediction for Best Picture: Everything Everywhere All at Once