FX Excursions

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Ready for the Oscars

by Patricia Vanikiotis

Mar 9, 2024

I look forward to watching the Academy Awards show every year. True, there are plenty of other shows focused on recognizing the best in television and film these days: the Screen Actors Guild awards, Hollywood Foreign Press awards, People’s Choice, BAFTA, Golden Globes. But for years the Oscars was the only televised game in town, and even now winning the golden statue Academy Awards  is generally regarded as the pinnacle of achievement in the film industry.

People look forward to watching (and then offering their criticism, both positive and negative, on) the red carpet interviews and fashions, Academy Awards  the host’s opening monologue and production number, the presenters, the top song musical performances, acceptance speeches, and even the In Memoriam segment. Of course, everyone has their opinion as to which film or actor should win the Oscar and eagerly waits to hear the winner announced upon the opening of the envelope.

I can’t remember when I could claim I had seen every one of the Best Picture nominees, especially when the list expanded from five to 10 in 2009. My sister-in-law Ann has made that her goal for several years now, and I’ve decided it’s an admirable one to have. For one, it would force me to sometimes go outside of my comfort zone to see films I perhaps would normally pass over. These days, too, with all the streaming platforms out there, it is easier to see some movies that had a limited or late release . . . at least in my area. I don’t live in a major metropolitan area with lots of commercial screens from which to choose, so we often miss out on limited-release films or ones the local theaters consider would have limited interest for their local patrons.

This was my year! I saw several of the films not long after their initial release, well before the nominations came out. Barbie Academy Awards  and Oppenheimer were easy to find anywhere, and my husband and I were eager to see Killers of the Flower Moon as soon as it came out, as we had devoured the book several years ago. The Holdovers also enjoyed a broad release, as did American Fiction, and I thoroughly enjoyed both films and the great performances from the lead and supporting actors in them.

The other five nominated films, however, took a little more effort to find on a big screen here in Southern Oregon. Fortunately, our local Cinemark theater made it a little easier with very limited showings of those movies. The franchise promoted what they call Oscar Movie Week, which included a digital movie pass to the top nominated films (as well as the nominated animated and live action shorts) for just $40. We didn’t buy the pass, but we did make note of the times (generally there were two or three showings over the course of a week or two) and got ourselves to the theater to see Poor Things (wildly bizarre and fantastically imaginative) and The Zone of Interest (chilling to see the indifference of those living literally in the shadows of Auschwitz) in the past few weeks.

This past week we spent several hours in the very comfortable reclining, heated seats of the theater watching Past Lives (a quiet film exploring the relationship and choices of two childhood friends separated by time and distance), Anatomy of a Fall (an examination of a marriage following the death of the husband; Sandra Hüller Academy Awards  as the wife is excellent, as she was as the wife of the commandant in Zone of Interest) and Maestro (I knew Leonard Bernstein’s music but little about the man; Bradley Cooper Academy Awards  and Carey Mulligan gave outstanding performances).

Having seen them all, I must confess it’s difficult to decide which one I feel should win the Oscar. As a fine film should, each one raised questions about our human nature and lingered in my mind long after I left the theater. Each offered astounding performances, excellent cinematography and unique perspectives. I’m looking forward to watching the show tomorrow night, but I don’t think I’ll be cheering for one film or performance more than another. I’ll just recall the gifts that each one brought to me on its own and celebrate the chance to have experienced each one.

— Patty Vanikiotis, associate editor/copy editor


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