In light of the reflective time of the awards season for film, Yasmeena Sulaiman looks at how even though the BAFTA awards have not always been an indicator of how the Oscars will go, the 2023 Academy Awards is different.
The cinematic awards season is a time to reflect on the films that have truly stood out amongst others debuting in the same year. With release after release across both theatres and streaming sites, which movies can we remember, and why? The awards season aims to spotlight films that have left visceral impressions on audiences and critics alike, as well as conveniently leaving behind a watchlist for anyone interested in cinema to look back on and reference continuously.
Dominating with seven wins and 14 nominations, All Quiet on the Western Front (dir. Edward Berger, 2022) was adored by voters of the BAFTAs (British Academy of Film and Television Arts). Picking up wins in categories such as Best Sound, Cinematography, Original Score, Adapted Screenplay, Director, and Film Not in the English Language, it was unsurprisingly crowned Best Picture. But with a poignant film like The Banshees of Inisherin (dir. Martin McDonagh, 2022) being in the race, I was shocked to see it given the award for Outstanding British Film but not Best Picture. This award show genuinely astonished me with its adoration of the German film, especially over the culturally and critically popular Everything Everywhere All at Once (dir. Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, 2022). Everything only received the Editing award at the BAFTAs, yet obtained above-the-line accolades at multiple other film awards such as the SAG (Screen Actors Guild Awards) and Critics Choice Awards. Despite this success, the BAFTAs preferred the aptly titled and pensive All Quiet on the Western Front. It is a solid, devastating film, but I have some contentions with a couple of its wins and other choices the BAFTA voters made.
All Quiet on the Western Front won Sound but, as an American, I can proudly state that it should have gone to Top Gun: Maverick (dir. Joseph Kosinski, 2022). Sitting in the IMAX theatre eating my butter-drenched tub of popcorn while going along with Tom Cruise in whatever state-of-the-art fighter jet he pilots is an underrated and electrifying experience, that is amplified by its sound design.
Original Score is the second win All Quiet earned that should have gone to another film. Again, the film has a score that deserves credit, but the clear winner was Babylon (dir. Damien Chazelle, 2023). The score by Justin Hurwitz is epic, lively, and explosive—a wondrous facet of storytelling in the 3-hour historical Hollywood drama.
In addition, I have to mention the confused awarding of the Casting category to Elvis (dir. Baz Luhrmann, 2022). I concede that the casting of Austin Butler was paramount to the integrity of the entire film; however, the casting of Tom Hanks was a mediocre performance. Comparatively, Everything Everywhere All at Once knocked it out of the park with its core four actors: Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Stephanie Hsu. This awarding to Elvis is even more incoherent since Austin Butler won Leading Actor.
Initially, I did not see All Quiet on the Western Front performing outstandingly at the Oscars. With the deep appreciation it garnered at the BAFTAs, I wonder if this is a sign that Everything might not sweep the Oscars as predicted, especially with Elvis getting a lot of attention and even The Banshees of Inisherin snagging the Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress wins over Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything. These losses on Everything’s part, and the massive wins afforded to All Quiet, lead me to believe that it might be a threatening contender in this year’s Oscars, and I will gladly watch the ceremony to see if Hollywood surprises (or enrages) me.
by Yasmeena Sulaiman