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April 23, 2024

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Oscar-Nominated Theatre Watchlist for the weekend

The anticipation leading up to the announcement of Oscar nominations is an annual ritual, leaving us with bated breath. It’s the collective excitement shared by movie enthusiasts worldwide that makes this event truly special. We eagerly await to discover which films will grace the prestigious list, knowing that each nomination is a testament to outstanding storytelling and exceptional filmmaking.

For those who appreciate the immersive allure of the big screen, this festival is a golden opportunity. The cinema hall, with its expansive canvas and enveloping sound, transforms a mere screening into an engaging experience. The collective gasps, laughter, and silent contemplation of an audience add a layer of shared emotion, making the cinematic journey all the more memorable.

As we unveil the curtain on these Oscar-nominated gems, consider this your exclusive invitation to witness the magic of cinema in its truest form. From February 23rd to March 21st, seize the chance to immerse yourself in these extraordinary narratives at nearly 100 cinemas across 33 cities in India. Elevate your movie-watching experience, and join us in celebrating the artistry that unfolds on the grand stage of the big screen.

Past Lives

Nomination for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay

Nothing is spectacular in ‘Past Lives’. And nothing is tragic either. Still, as it lingers in this in-between emotive space, it offers the story with charm and heart break in equal parts, simply because of how human it can be. Written and directed by Celine Song, ‘Past Lives’ is a what-if tale seeped in a sense of yearning that you can’t quite put your finger on. The film follows Nora and Hae Sung, who initially meet at school in Korea until Nora’s family immigrates to Canada. The two reconnect at two points in the film, once virtually and once in New York City where Nora later settles with her husband, an American and fellow writer. There is a kind of gentle push and pull Nora faces: Korean or American, childhood or adulthood, past or present. In Nora and her ordinary woe, we see ourselves, and that is precisely what makes this film incredibly beautiful.

May December

Nomination for Best Original Screenplay

‘May December’ is not called a horror story, but perhaps it should be. There is a palpable unnerving aura layered across the landscape of the film, through its score, design, and most of all its story and characters that leaves you feeling queasy through the movie. The screenplay is loosely based on Mary Kay Letourneau, a school teacher arrested for having a sexual relationship with one of her 12-year-old students. While in prison, she gave birth to their first two children and the teacher and student later married once she had been released. The film itself follows TV actress Elizabeth who shadows Gracie (based on Letourneau) who is an inspiration for her upcoming role. Gracie lives with her husband and their children, and in the film, Gracie is said to have met him at the pet store where they worked when he was young. As if the plot was not deeply discomforting by itself, Todd Haynes, uses the character of Elizabeth, whose main role is to imitate Gracie’s mannerisms, to add another layer of eeriness to the film.

Anatomy of a Fall

Nomination for Best Picture, Best Leading Actress, Best Directing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing

Justine Triet’s ‘Anatomy of a Fall,’ a cerebral trial drama, opens with the mysterious death of aspiring writer Samuel in the French Alps, with his more successful wife Sandra as the suspect. The film navigates investigation, tribunal, and verdict, primarily interested in questioning Sandra’s complexities rather than providing definitive answers. Triet emphasises the unknowability of individuals, presenting Sandra’s contradictions and inner frictions in a courtroom drama that unfolds with gravity. The narrative explores the blurred lines between biography and fiction, mirroring Sandra and Samuel’s books. As experts testify and the son, Daniel, becomes a crucial observer, the film’s deliberate style, withholding answers, invites viewers to decide Sandra’s guilt. Triet’s enigmatic approach adds layers of ambiguity, leaving room for interpretation and ensuring the film lingers in contemplation.

Holdovers

Nomination for Best Picture, Best Leading Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing

In the 1970s at Barton, an elite all-boys boarding school, ‘The Holdovers’ unfolds under the begrudging care of Paul Hunham during Christmas break who is tasked with a guardian role for any student left behind during the holidays. Directed by Alexander Payne, the film takes an unexpected turn when only Angus Tully is left by his mother and step-father to stay at school. As the dynamics between Hunham, Tully, and Mary Lamb, the school cook, develop through their unique circumstance, the movie transforms into a picaresque journey of humour, wisdom, and unexpected adventures. Payne’s nuanced direction shines through as he portrays characters dealing with personal tragedies and forging connections while still retaining a sweet warmth and silliness.

Killer of the Flower Moon

Nomination for Best Picture, Best Leading Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Directing, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Song

In Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,’ a cinematic requiem takes shape against the backdrop of 1920s Native American Country, delving into a tale of love, murder, greed, and betrayal. Departing from his familiar New York settings, Scorsese masterfully captures the Osage Reservation’s fraught history in northern Oklahoma. The narrative centres on Ernest Burkhart, a war veteran entangled in a Hobbesian society led by his uncle, William Hale. The film, based on David Grann’s book, intricately weaves genres, encompassing romance, western, drama, and police procedural, creating an unsettling and mysterious atmosphere. Through sweeping vistas and intimate moments, Scorsese paints a vivid picture of the Osage Reign of Terror, exposing the greed that preyed on their oil wealth. The story unfolds with tenderness, especially in the relationship between Ernest and his Osage wife, Mollie Kyle, offering a poignant exploration of love amidst a backdrop of violence and horror.

Poor Things

Nomination for Best Picture, Best Leading Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Directing, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Editing, Best Original Song, Best Writing for Adapted Screenplay, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Original Score, Best Production Design and Best Film Editing

Yorgos Lanthimos’s ‘Poor Things’ is a visually sumptuous and clever rendition of the Frankenstein tale, boasting Emma Stone as Bella and Willem Dafoe as Dr. Godwin Baxter. The film, adapted from Alasdair Gray’s novel, explores a phantasmagorical Victorian world filled with grotesque experiments and dissonance. Lanthimos, in his flamboyantly expressive style, creates a calculatedly dissonant universe with meticulous production design and showboating cinematography. Bella’s unconventional growth, guided by suitors McCandless and Wedderburn, transforms her into a monstrous yet liberated woman, engaging in episodic adventures that unveil pleasures and cruelties.

Teachers Lounge

Nomination for Best International Feature

In ‘The Teachers’ Lounge,’ Ilker Catak offers a nuanced perspective on the challenges of teaching, countering the idealistic portrayals often seen in magical teacher movies. The film follows Carla Nowak, a new teacher facing the harsh realities of managing a diverse sixth-grade classroom in a German school. Thwarted by theft accusations and racial bias against a Turkish student, Ms. Nowak’s good intentions crumble. The film serves as an allegory for the complexities of modern society, exploring themes of surveillance, misinformation, and the clash between order and disobedience. Catak navigates this societal struggle within the microcosm of a classroom, humorously highlighting the unpredictable nature of preteens and the challenges of maintaining harmony. The film prompts reflection on democratic attempts to keep peace and raises questions about whether both students and teachers have truly learned vital lessons.

Napoleon

Nomination for Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design

‘Napoleon,’ directed by Ridley Scott, transcends expectations with its vast portrayal of the French Revolution, military campaigns, and Napoleon Bonaparte’s ascent. Joaquin Phoenix delivers a mesmerizing and eccentric performance as Napoleon, exploring the character’s humour and darker complexities. The film navigates historical events, from the Terror in Paris to battles across Europe and Africa, with vivid imagery and brusque narrative economy. The bifurcated plot follows Napoleon’s military conquests and his tumultuous relationship with Joséphine. While the war scenes are extraordinary, Scott deviates from the conventional glorification of Napoleon’s military prowess, presenting a more unromanticised and unsettling portrayal. The film surprises with its departure from mainstream historical epics, delivering a character study that unravels Napoleon’s cruelty and pathological vanity.

Zara Flavia Dmello

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