Will this year’s best picture be a touching or serious movie? – The Hollywood Reporter

The 94th Academy Awards will take place on March 27, 2022 – more than two years after stay-at-home orders began sweeping across the US and the coronavirus pandemic posed an identifiable threat to most Americans. Its effect on Hollywood was almost immediate: Tentpole’s releases were pushed (and pushed, and pushed) back, leaving a handful of studio movies in the 2021 Oscar race, which cleared the way for a indie movies like Wandering to choose the best image.

The Focus Feature release feels like a companion to the 2020 best picture winners. Parasites, Bong Joon Ho’s explosive drama has forced audiences across the globe to think critically about capitalism and its failures. If Parasites seemed like a warning sign of things to come – its four Oscar wins came just a month before the pandemic hit the US with full force, upending the economy and pushing up unemployment. career skyrocketed – then Wandering it feels like we’re watching the present on our screens, even if the movie is set in 2011 and considers the effects of the Great Recession.

When WanderingIts triumph may have reflected the precarious moment in history in which it was released, its competition at the Oscars addressing an equally serious subject: dementia (Father), the political turmoil of the 1960s (Judas and the Black Messiah and Challenge of Chicago 7), Hollywood Disillusionment (Mank), the limitations of the American dream (Minari), the #MeToo movement (Promising young woman) and disability (The sound of metal). Not all of these movies are so bleak, but rather a hopeless string that stretches throughout their run.

Months later, with the end of the pandemic nowhere in sight, our overall mood is still very low. On the other hand, some movies have a softer tone. Blockbuster films returned to theaters (even as audience reaction cooled) and brought excitement to the community – among them epics like There’s no time to die and Sand dunes.

Even a primer selection for this year’s Oscars feels less dark, with heart-stopping features like Focus’ Belfast, a coming-of-age story with 11-year-old Jude Hill in the breakout lead role; Warner Bros. King Richard, with Will Smith’s commanding performance as the father of two famous tennis players Venus and Serena Williams; Netflix’s Clap, Clap… Boom!, director Lin-Manuel Miranda’s feature film debut proves Andrew Garfield is as good a singer as he is as an actor; and A24’s Come on, which sees Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix against his 12-year-old co-star, 12-year-old Woody Norman.

Also in the mix is ​​United Artists’ Gucci house, is stylish, star-studded, and powerful enough that it resembles the big-screen version of the Ryan Murphy-produced film (directed solely by veteran director Ridley Scott). Amazon’s Being a Ricardian, which for months has fueled debate online over the casting of Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, has proven skeptics wrong following massive convention screenings in recent weeks. .

There’s no shortage of darker fare this season, especially from Netflix: Streamers have The power of the dog addressing masculinity and repression in the American West, Don’t look up satirize bureaucratic attitudes, and Daughter is gone and Pass just examined the complex psychological links between women. ‘s spotlight Nightmare Alley and 20th century West story, two new narratives brought to the screen in 1947 and 1961, respectively, are dazzling sagas with tragic endings. Meanwhile, A24 and Apple TV+ of Macbeth’s Tragedy puts the genuine qualities of Shakespeare’s tale of ambition and corruption right in its title.

The issue is not whether these films should be honored by the Academy but whether the Academy voters chose one of these films to represent the year in cinema in general. are not.

It’s understandable if viewers are drawn to movies that feel better than their gloomier competitors – but it shouldn’t be overlooked how the crowd pleasers also speak to the enthusiast. BelfastHis story is set in trouble, when political and cultural differences have divided Northern Ireland. King Richard displays the Sisyphean efforts involved in Black’s pursuit of excellence in a resilient world and the sacrifices one must make to do so. Clap, Clap… Boom! is a high-energy musical but one that questions the ethics of making art amid an epidemic. For all the sweetness shown in Come on, the film is tinged with heartbreak as it expresses the frustration of raising a free-spirited child in a chaotic world.

Even the best camping moments of Gucci house, Being a Ricardian and Neon Spencer, all of which featured A-list and screen-dominated actresses, depicting the dissolution of marriages as outside forces isolate the heroines from their male friends. . Spencer there might be the happiest ending in this trilogy – one can’t help but cheer for Kristen Stewart’s Princess Diana’s escape from the British royal prison – but that’s only because the movie ends with Diana winning her independence. established rather than with her real life tragic fate. We know what awaits her years later, which adds to the bitterness for Spencerconclude.

In fact, the movies that feel like the biggest distraction from the chaos of our world are holding up a mirror – cheery cheer hides the sadness underneath. surface.

This story first appeared in the November 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.

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