The 95th Academy Awards air this Sunday, March 12, so we’ve compiled a two-part viewing guide to the ten Best Picture Nominees for the 2023 Oscars. If you haven’t already, check out Part 1 to read about Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water, The Banshees of Inisherin, Elvis, and Women Talking.
Below, you’ll find brief snapshots of each of this year’s Best Picture Nominees and a recommendation on which ones to watch.
You’ll even find some biblical principles that can be identified in each—well, most—of the movies.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Rated R for some violence, sexual material, and language. Streaming on Showtime, available for purchase on Amazon Prime.
A combination of pure chaos and energy, there may be no better words to describe this movie than the title itself: Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Undoubtedly the most creative movie of the year, Everything follows American Chinese immigrant Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) as her life falls apart around her. Her business faltering and her relations with her only daughter strained, Evelyn feels helpless. That is until a heroic and kung-fu-capable version of her husband (Ke Huy Quan) shows up to pull her into an alternate universe.
Evelyn treks across universes allowing her to see dozens of alternative versions of herself and how her life could have looked different. This spurs doubt in her life choices and instigates selfish thoughts.
Though an all-around odd film, Everything brings fresh creativity to a modern Hollywood that seems to have lost its innovative touch in the last decade. For a deeper look into what this means for faith-based filmmaking, read “On the oddity of Everything Everywhere All at Once, the multiverse, and why Christians need to rethink art.”
The movie focuses on being joyful in your true identity and the way you were made (Psalm 139:13–16) while also compromising with others, especially those you love the most (Psalm 68:6; Colossians 3:13–14).
Everything is a standout movie that subverts the expectations for twenty-first-century films, so it’s not surprising that it’s the leading favorite to win the Oscar for Best Picture. Make sure to check this one out.
My Rating: 8/10
All Quiet on the Western Front
Rated R for strong, bloody war violence and grisly images. Streaming on Netflix.
The third film adaptation of the 1928 novel of the same name, All Quiet on the Western Front is a gritty look at the horrendous realities of World War I.
In a departure from traditional WWI movies, the story is presented from the perspective of a German soldier. Paul (Felix Kammerer) and his friends are overjoyed when they are finally called up to join the German military’s push to conquer Paris. The boys receive a harsh reality check when they arrive at scenes of devastation and are told a trench is their new home—and they are not invading Paris any time soon. Paul must endeavor for survival while losing his will to fight for a nation with no real chance of winning the war.
Strategically filmed and intense in nature, All Quiet offers a harrowing glimpse at the impacts combat has on a soldier. Backed by a resounding musical score and exquisite cinematography, the movie craftily displays war’s ability to bring out the worst in humanity.
All Quiet is the story of a brotherhood (Proverbs 17:17) that experiences the toll fighting takes on humankind (Matthew 26:52). The movie makes it clear that peace is the far better alternative to conflict (Matthew 5:9).
Terrifying and hyper-realistic battle sequences make this film tough to watch, but the film’s emotional impact runs deep. If you can muster watching a graphic war film, you need to see this.
My Rating: 8/10
Rated PG-13 for some strong language, thematic elements, brief violence, and drug use. Available for rent on Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, and YouTube.
Steven Spielberg’s latest film, The Fabelmans, is a coming-of-age film about, well, himself. Though the characters are fictional, they are inspired by his own family in post-war America.
Based on Spielberg’s likeness, the main character Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) falls in love with filmmaking at a young age. As Sammy works to perfect his craft during his teenage years, his love for his parents and sisters deepens—until he discovers a family secret that implodes his life and destroys his passion for making movies.
Forced to move to California with the family, Sammy struggles to adapt to his new surroundings. The only Jewish family in town, the Fabelman kids are at the receiving end of ruthless mockery and antisemitism. Now in high school, Sammy has to make critical choices on how to respond to classmates, incorrigible family members, and the forgotten talent calling his name.
The Fabelmans exhibits the power of a properly tilled, God-given talent (Proverbs 22:29) and presses the importance of family and forgiveness (Colossians 3:13).
Steering away from his usual “spectacle” style movie with The Fabelmans, Spielberg grants the audience exclusive access to the origin story of his filmmaking legend. We see the beautiful and dark moments of his youth that lead him to pursue a providential talent and, in turn, create many of the iconic movies Americans have loved for the last half-century. That alone earns this film must-watch status.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Rated R for some language and brief nudity. Streaming on Peacock. Available for rent on Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, and YouTube.
Cate Blanchett stars as the fictional Lydia Tár, one of the world’s best orchestra composers whose career has given her elite status in the classical music industry. She uses her position to exert power and influence over her family, students, and protégés. Though an intellectual genius, she has a detrimental lack of emotional awareness.
Just as Lydia is about to conduct the most pivotal orchestra of her career, her life begins to unravel. With chaos ensuing all around her, Lydia’s past comes to haunt her when she becomes the target of cancel culture, forcing her to take unforeseen actions.
Tár exploits the dangers of immense pride (Proverbs 16:18) and serves as a reminder for Christians that we should not love the things of the world, including ourselves, more than our Father (1 John 2:15–16).
A slow-burn film, Tár’s pace emulates the measured start of an orchestral suite rapidly building up to a dramatic conclusion. Ultimately, the movie is long and at times boring. For her part, Blanchett commands the screen for the full 158-minute runtime in a performance worthy of her second Best Actress Oscar. If you enjoy art-driven films with an eccentric style, this movie may be for you.
My Rating: 6.5/10
Triangle of Sadness
Rated R for language and some sexual content. Available for rent on Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, and YouTube.
Triangle of Sadness follows Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean), a supermodel couple sailing aboard an exclusive yacht cruise with wealthy individuals from around the world. Because they find self-worth in their looks, fame, and social media influencer status, the cruise only deepens previous strains on their relationship.
In a nauseating and tumultuous sequence, giant waves rock the ship, everyone becomes seasick, and the drunk captain (Woody Harrelson) spews off anti-capitalist sentiments while relishing in the despair of his affluent passengers on the doomed ship.
Carl and Yaya are among a handful of passengers who land on a deserted island, along with one crew member who possesses the only valuable survival skills. With the group’s power hierarchy now flipped, the couple must now figure out how to stay alive on the island.
Triangle of Sadness has no identifiable redeeming qualities. It’s a depiction of morally corrupt characters and epitomizes a life of vanity, greed, and selfishness (1 John 2:16) in order to push an elongated agenda for the downfall of capitalism. An “eat the rich” story at its core, it’s almost ironic that an Academy of well-off Hollywood insiders adored this film.
A dark comedy, Triangle of Sadness does offer some laughs and impressive acting from a mostly unknown cast, but that does not revive the movie enough for me to recommend it.
My Rating: 5/10
Out of hundreds of films produced last year, these are the ten that Hollywood insiders have elected as the top of the 2022 class. They offer some of the best work of dedicated creators, actors, and crew members in the entertainment industry and the yearslong efforts put into each project is worth admiring. As viewers, we are swept away into other worlds, universes, timelines, and cultures all from the comfort of a theater seat or couch.
God is not the central theme of any of the ten movies, but it’s noteworthy that nearly every film has either a lesson to be learned or redeeming qualities that can also be gleaned from the truth of Scripture. God has gifted filmmakers with talents, and, whether they know it or not, they are glorifying the greatest Creator of all.