Episode 885: Top Ten Films of 2023

You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. FictionIsntReal says:

    I happened to listen to your podcast shortly after I watched Moviewise’ evaluation of the director nominees, prompting me to re-watch his ranking of the nominated screenplays. He said of Maestro’s script (and specifically the marital spat on Thanksgiving, which alongside May December he contrasts with Anatomy of a Fall) “If you write a film about a pretentious 20-something playwright featuring a scene of rehearsals for his obnoxious new play, this is exactly what it would look like”. He does share the criticism David notes (and dismisses) that the film doesn’t actually do anything to convey what was so genius about Bernstein’s work. Perhaps his hackles being raised over some defects causes him to be more sensitive to others in the film, not being willing to give the filmmaker the benefit of the doubt.

    Personally, I was unwilling to give the benefit of the doubt because there are so many Oscar-bait biopics about a Great Man (in transformative makeup) who cheats on or neglects his long-suffering wife (and also I didn’t care for A Star is Born). Oppenheimer is also that (and I think that puts it well below Nolan’s peak), but at least it’s not focused on that angle (perhaps voters disagree though, hence their baffling nomination of Emily Blunt for her insubstantial role).

    My bigger problem with Oppenheimer is the choice to focus so match on the confirmation hearing of Strauss (which doesn’t really matter, and we don’t have reason to care that Strauss cares) and the paralleled security hearing for Oppenheimer, which also didn’t matter (as Rabi notes in the film, if they don’t want his advice they can just not ask for it) and which he himself criticized for being dramatized on-stage as a tragedy rather than a farce. Kubrick is dead, so I don’t know who should have done that. You mention that the characters know the Germans will be working on making a bomb, but when Operation Alsos (headed by Boris Pash, played by Casey Affleck in the film) captured the scientists in question, they were surprised by the atom bomb and talked about how their plan (never anywhere close to coming to fruition) was to make an “engine” (perhaps because Germany was more deprived of fuel than the allies). Matt Yglesias had a good take on the irony that the bomb was irrelevant for the war against Germany it was intended to win, but none of the people behind it wanting to admit that once Germany surrendered.

    In contrast to that quote from The Souvenir, directors who try to make audiences feel a certain way are often considered by critics to be too blunt, while directors who leave things ambiguous for audiences to feel differently about are regarded as more sophisticated. One could make the weaker claim, that art aims to provoke a reaction, even if that reaction may vary among people and not be something felt by the creator.

    • Battleship Pretension says:

      I like most of your points on Maestro and Oppenheimer so I’ll only respond to the last paragraph. I think there’s a necessary distinction to be drawn between artists who are instructing their audience on how to feel and those who are gifting a feeling to others.

      – David

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Verified by MonsterInsights