The Case For Best Picture

With the Oscars coming up soon, everyone has a choice for Best Picture. Our writers are here to tell you what film should win and why.


Katie McKenna

In recent years it seems that films have lost their vulnerability. Following every possible chance for genuine emotion with a joke is a great strategy to help 14-year-olds avoid mockery, but a terrible idea if a director wants us to care about their film. Aftersun (Charlotte Wells, 2022) does not suffer from this problem. While not much actually happens, a father and daughter go on holidays together, what makes this film so absolutely unforgettable is its hypnotic sensitivity. Aided by magnetic performances by Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio, Wells’ directorial debut has some indescribable quality that cinema has been missing recently. It shows us life as we remember, and then sometimes as it really is, but only enough to remind us why we forget. Like Calum (Mescal) himself, Aftersun keeps you at arm’s length, never truly letting you in, begging you to decipher it while fearing you seeing behind the curtain. It’s a film that’s hard to forget, and one we will regret not giving more awards to. 

Top Gun Maverick

Gabe Gurule

The Academy uses a nebulous criteria to define “Best Picture.” Sometimes it’s indie classics, sometimes big-budget dramas. It’s nearly impossible to guess what will win. But the best picks are when it’s about recognizing a legacy: what the public loved in a year. 

It would be easy to dismiss it as a spectacle, but Top Gun: Maverick (Joseph Kosinski, 2022) is a swansong for the old way of doing things. It functions as a baton-passing from old 80s stars to a new generation. It is a movie that is aware of its own legacy—sparingly using callbacks to the original, while allowing enough room for this new film to be independent. 

Pilots in the Top Gun: Maverick universe are an endangered species: being replaced by cold, unthinking, and automated drones. But so are action stars like Tom Cruise, who put the audience first. The action scenes are cleanly edited. The story takes priority with excuses for sequels never being shoved in. Like his character, Tom Cruise, gives the distinct impression that he would rather drop dead than retire into peace and quiet: he is an actor who demands strapping 4kg cameras into $77 million jets instead of an overabundance of CGI. As a result, Top Gun: Maverick is a movie that packed theatres in a way that has not been seen in years. It even inspired countless misguided moustaches. This year, the Best Picture should be the movie that “took our breath away” and left us grinning when the good guys won.


Shane McKevitt

With X (2022), writer/director Ti West pays homage to the slashers of the 1970s and 80s with a stylish, thought provoking, and extremely entertaining film. Much like he did with The House of the Devil (2009), West embraces horror tropes and conventions of the past and balances them with contemporary filmmaking sensibilities. 

Much has been made of Mia Goth’s dual performance, and rightfully so; the cast is excellent across the board. To this effect, every character is three dimensional and well-rounded. Thus, when they start getting offed one by one, the audience isn’t left eagerly anticipating their demise, but instead rooting for them to survive the night. The grainy, grimy feel of backwoods, 1970s Texas is perfectly realised as well. The costumes, set design, soundtrack, and stylistic choices made in the cinematography and editing aptly immerse the viewer in the setting. Moreover, the film evokes themes of the loss of vitality with age, rebelling against repression, pursuing one’s dream, and the futility of defining “true” art. 

All in all, the film manages to balance slasher conventions with deeper, underlying themes, without ever coming across as pretentious or overly introspective. There is a lot to explore under the surface in X, yet that never stands in the way of the fun. The film knows that, at its core, it’s a slasher flick, and it’s proud of that. This unique balance makes X not only one of the best horror films of the past decade, but the best film of 2022 overall.


Shahzaib Ali

Babylon (Damien Chazelle, 2022) should win in my opinion. 

To start, the movie has some of the best filmmaking I’ve seen in a movie in 2022. Chazelle’s directing swings for the fences and does not hold back from its often darkly comedic insanity. The film is filled to the brim with a good deal of energetic sequences that just thrust you into its world along with its characters. The performances from Diego Calva, Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt are all stellar here. They bring a healthy dose of the degeneracy of these characters swinging for the fences, and the humanity of their relationships and struggles into their roles. With that, Robbie brings out her most unconstrained performances and Pitt fits into the role of a character that encapsulates his state in the industry. The score by Justin Hurwitz thrives on its intense vibrancy that permeates the high-octane tone of this movie. 

Amidst the madness, the core of this movie is an ambitious love letter and critique of film itself. It tackles on what we gain and lose from being a part of something bigger and how your legacy will live on for years to come and can impact the world. It tackles the struggles Manny (Calva), Nellie (Robbie) and Jack (Pitt) face in the film industry as they are exploited by said industry. However, this movie does show an appreciation for film by giving the notion that the beauty of film lives on and how the legacies of those who came before will inspire those who will thrive in the future. Overall, this movie reaffirms Damien Chazelle as one of the most gifted filmmakers of this generation and thus, is absolutely deserving of best picture.

Triangle of Sadness

Hana Rae Quinn

Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness (2022) stays with you long after the credits roll. Chronicling an ill-fated cruise for the uber-rich, the film admirably evades descension into heavy-handed satire, the likes of which are growing exponentially in parallel with the influencer culture they target. Placing both old and new money under the microscope, Östlund weaponises discomfort to tease apart the social dynamics and power imbalances that define our modern lives, before ultimately lumping all guilty parties together in the same boat (pun intended). Triangle of Sadness’ slow build and visceral climax serve to support its final act, a 60-minute allegory that defined cinema in 2022 for me. 

Triangle of Sadness is quick, arresting and refreshingly singular, featuring layered and standout performances from its leading couple Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean). Through them we experience characters and situations that function as metaphors of varying subtlety, forcing us to contemplate our own hypothetical actions and personal circumstances. Above all, Triangle of Sadness is a rich film about the wealthy; it is oozing with captivating cinematography, sharp social commentary, and truly funny moments, all of which are cleanly contained in a story that can be enjoyed even on a superficial level. The fact that Woody Harrelson is the least interesting thing about this film is a testament to its brilliance, making it a deserving Best Picture winner in my opinion.

Avatar: The Way of Water

Sadbh Boylan

Sequels don’t have the best track record when it comes to the Academy Award for Best Picture. Only two sequels (The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Peter Jackson, 2003)) have ever secured the prize, though if ever there was a follow-up poised to buck this trend, it’s James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water (2022). Arriving thirteen years after its predecessor first graced our screens and revolutionised the very concept of visual effects, the anticipation prior to Avatar: The Way of Water’s release was palpable but somewhat restrained. Did we really need another Avatar? After all this time, why taint such a seminal work of modern cinema? However, with a worldwide gross of $2.027 billion (correct as of 24/01/2023) and counting, it’s safe to say that the Avatar sequel has blown critical and commercial expectations, well, out of the water. 

Much like its predecessor, Avatar: The Way of Water is as much about the spectacle as it is the story. It’s a technical achievement of unprecedented proportions, and the immersive nature of the film is worth the ticket price alone. However, to focus only on its technical triumphs unfairly detracts from the reason Avatar: The Way of Water is still filling cinemas globally: a solid story with a compelling ensemble that resonates with audiences. Although the storytelling is occasionally over simplistic and hardly time-efficient, the film’s impressive gross is testament to its ability to inspire repeat cinema viewings. In a film landscape where visual effects as seen in the 2009 original are commonplace, it is heartening that Avatar: The Way of Water has successfully struck a chord with and inspired renewed awe and wonder in audiences and critics alike. For that reason, it rightfully earns its nod in the Best Picture category, and it’s my pick to take the gold on the night.


Leah Kelly

It’s a running joke that Best Pictures are always the same type of film. If you’re making a sad drama or period piece you have a much better shot of winning. Genres outside of that like horror and fantasy win very rarely. An animated film has never won Best Picture, but Pinocchio (Guillermo Del Toro, 2022) could change that. 

With such stunning direction, visuals and music Pinocchio should certainly be a contender. Firstly, the stop motion animation is gorgeous. You can tell great care went into making the models. Stop motion is notoriously time consuming but it was well worth it for such a gorgeous end result. Every frame is a wonder to look at. Del Toro has an extremely unique style and his influence is everywhere in this film. 

It’s not all just beauty and spectacle though. The writing takes it to another level. Reimagining the original tale with a Gothic tone and Mussolini’s Italy as its setting, it is concerned with exploring death above all. Pinocchio cannot die  because he is not really alive and this film posits that what defines human life is its inevitable end. He is not alive because he cannot die and he cannot die because he is not alive. As an exploration of death, morality, obedience and grief it is near flawless. You wouldn’t expect anything less from Guillermo Del Toro, though. 

Pinnochio has every ingredient a Best Picture winner should have. Every aspect of the film succeeds at what it is trying to do, and it was lovingly crafted much like the puppet himself.


Isabella Hogg

Elvis (Baz Luhrmann, 2022) is a self-consciously spectacular biopic deserving of Best Picture. From the split screen effects to the quick zooms to the fast-paced editing, Luhrmann strives to immerse the audience in Elvis’ (Austin Butler) world and make us feel as if Elvis is in “the building.” I believe he succeeds. The scene where Elvis performs to a large crowd for the first time is one of my favourite scenes of all time due to its extreme visceral energy. Butler gives an inspired performance, having spent a year and a half preparing for the role. As he shakes his legs, electric guitar soars and women shriek ecstatically in close-up. Sets and costumes glitter. The soundtrack is cleverly engineered with remixes of Elvis’ hits recorded by contemporary artists, conveying how fresh the music would have felt at the time. 

Told from the point of view of the unreliable Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), Presley’s manager, the film charts several important moments in Presley’s life. It doesn’t shy away from the fact that Elvis takes his music and style from the black community in the US. It would, however, have been good to see black characters such as B. B. King (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) get more screen time. 

I predict Elvis will be a film that viewers will come back to long into the future, not seeking a factual account of Presley’s life but rather a sense of how it might have felt to be in his presence. For these reasons I believe Elvis deserves best picture.


Cat Earley

When Crash (2004, Paul Haggis) shocked and angered the film world by nabbing Best Picture in the 2006 Academy Awards (beating out Brokeback Mountain [2005, Ang Lee] and Good Night and Good Luck [2005, George Clooney] among many others) the Academy’s taste in cinematic depictions of political and controversial issues was made wholly unambiguous. Crash was a masterclass in reducing discussions of racism as a systemic issue to a more superficial and individual level, and the Academy loved it. Ergo, films that have since then liked to caricature global issues in this manner have tended to win the awards and, to account for this, we have coined the term ‘Oscar Bait’.

 Now, 17 years after Crash’s win, we have Todd Field’s Tár (2022), a film that so epicly rejects all the qualities of a typical Oscar Bait film by trusting the intelligence of its audience rather than condescending to them. Tár is an exquisitely written drama surrounding the unravelling of its protagonist whose story is as tragic as she is flawed, and that really cares about tackling power dynamics as they exist in reality rather than the aesthetic of doing so in the abstract. Tár is the best of its class in cinematography, performances, sound design, dialogue, and direction -all of which alone make this one of the best films of the year – but above all else, I can’t imagine how nice it would feel to have an actual well-rounded, believable person represented in the Academy Awards again. There’s not much else to say – my money’s on Cate Blanchett in the suit.

Bones and All

Sarah Murnane

Bones and All (Luca Guadagnino, 2022) highlights the core problem with the films nominated for Oscars: they are all the same. Bones and All is a road trip, coming of age, cannibal film that follows a young couple as they navigate their way through rural America in the 80s on a journey of self-discovery. It featured incredible performances from Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell. Who both shine through individually for their talents, but complement each other beautifully for the tone of the film. Bones and All manages to present the audience with the most gruesome, horrific sequences’ and keep a tone of airiness and lightness that has the viewer teary eyed. It is a testament to Guadagnino’s talents, both as a director and story teller that the tone of this film was so masterfully constructed. 

However, the reason it was not nominated for an Oscar: it is a horror film. Out of the 581 movies that have been included within the Best Picture category, only 6 films have ever been nominated for Best Picture award at the Oscars. Horror is without a doubt the most snubbed genre within the film award world. When films like Bones and All emerge from the horror world, it exposes how insular the Oscars as an awards show are. The genre of ‘horror’ should not immediately mean bad or cheap. Each film should be judged on its own merits and Bones and All was absolutely snubbed for the Oscar this year because of this.

The Banshees of Inisherin

James Mahon

Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) is one of the favourites for best picture at the Oscars. If it does win, which I hope it does, it will be more than deserved. The film has such a diverse amount of qualities to it that it is actually hard to articulate within the space of this paragraph. Firstly is McDonagh’s simultaneously hilarious, profound and otherworldly writing and directing. The script manages to be symbolic of the Irish character – laughing at our own despair. Whereas the aesthetic of the film, with its combination of darkish hues and vivid imagery, manages to evoke a transcendental, mythical emotion that is true to the fable at the heart of the story. Moreover is the supreme  brilliance of Colin Farrell in somehow making his character’s dullness magnetically watchable and Brendan Gleeson in typifying the kind of grumpish charisma that has made him such a cinematic presence. This is added by strong ensemble performers from Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon. 

 Fundamentally though, it is the multiplicity of meanings that can be taken from the film, with McDonagh deliberately refusing to enlighten us in the best tradition of ‘show don’t tell cinema’. Is it an allegory for the Irish civil war? Or about the misplaced desire to leave a legacy behind us after we are no longer here? For me it is about the  difficulties of male friendship – the trauma that comes from a breaking up of a  relationship that is entirely different to any other, and how at times it can be hard to express to yourself, and the other person why you can no longer be friends. The Banshees of Inisherin is an  emotionally complex, funny and  multi-dimensional film that I hope wins best picture, but even if it doesn’t I don’t really care,  as it is my favourite movie of 2022.

Everything Everywhere All At Once 

Eve Smith

I like to think of myself as a person that could sit through a four-hour humdrum-arthouse film and enjoy it. But most of the time, it’s difficult to distinguish this from dutiful chore. So when Everything Everywhere All At Once (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, 2022) was first marketed as a movie about a failing laundromat, I braced myself for the worst. 

It follows the mundane life of first-gen immigrant Evelyn’s (Michelle Yeoh) failed American Dream and generational trauma, which makes her tight-fisted with her affection. Another version of her feeble husband (Ke Huy Quan) visits from the reality where their version of Evelyn has already been killed, to enlist this version’s help in taking down a threat to the multiverse. This Evelyn is not particularly good at anything except chastising others, which makes her uniquely positioned to employ the infinite string of alternative-universe versions of herself and push herself to breaking point to try and defeat the threat.  

The painstaking effort in constructing all the shots of the different realities is truly something to be seen. Directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert take the best of the adrenalin and stakes of superhero films, and pump the story with layers and layers of wit and heartbreak. Everything Everywhere All At Once holds relationships at its core and its VFX is  just a tool to translate their meaning. It’s one of the rare times a film is trying so hard, that it actually works. Phenomenally so. 

The difficulty of Evelyn’s life meant she hardened out of resenting the care and opportunities which she never got herself. But when she gets to witness everything that could have been, instead of being dispirited she finally understands that she has the capacity to be impressive. As a result, she softens to see the kindness at the core of her husband’s meek nature, and the drive for loving acceptance under the surface of her daughter’s self-sabotage. We’ve all lost cumulative days to daydreaming about how life could have been, but EEAAO shows us the path to fulfilment is taking our reality for what it is. 

The film is fundamentally saccharine, but every tear it induces is earned. It gets at universal emotion while probing at uniquely-immigrant experience, and it’s of the rare times that the gay immigrant story gets to be hopeful. If you make the time for one film about folding laundry, make it Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Menu

Nina Croft

The Menu (Mark Mylod) is strange, a cynical satire on an industry highly overlooked by cinema: fine dining. Structured over 9 courses, with each dish reflecting a different arc of the story, The Menu grows gradually more bizarre as it unfolds, leaving viewers with a strong empathy for the plight of service workers while never taking itself too seriously.

Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) are a couple who dine at Hawthorn, but Margot is an escort and therefore not technically supposed to be there, as she is the last-minute replacement for Tyler’s ex-girlfriend. 

All of the dishes served have symbolic meanings that contribute to Chef Slowik’s ultimate goal. The breadless bread plate is intended to reinforce the idea to diners that they do not deserve bread, which is commonly thought of as the dish of the common man, drawing a clear class divide between the staff and patrons. The taco tortillas, etched with images of patron’s personal indiscretions, symbolise the Chef reclaiming control of his ‘stolen’ art.

Snarky jibes such as “‘Student loans?’ ‘No.’ ‘You’re dying.’” keep the story light and fresh amid the violence and descent into chaos, which is needed.

Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) is so innately frustrated with the way his life’s passion has been transformed into just a lavish display of wealth, and the movie reaches its peak when Margot, who Slowik pities as she was never a part of his plan, calls out his cooking and asks for a cheeseburger and fries. You see joy return to Chef’s eyes as he is finally able to love the art of cooking for one last time, and offers Margot an escape because of it.

Further than just a message in class though is The Menu’s commentary on systemic sexism. Shortly before the course “Man’s Folly” it is revealed that Tyler knew the entire time that the dinner would end with the death of everyone in the restaurant, hammering home the message that to the wealthy, service workers are dispensable, and that he never paid a second thought to Margot’s death.

The Menu is uncomfortably relatable for anyone who has ever worked in service, and draws light to the way that wealthy elite put themselves on a pedestal, bastardising the art they claim to appreciate into a simple display of their own wealth, and rendering the ones who ‘provide’ as unimportant in the process. The Menu tackles class consciousness with a comedic tone throughout, an impressive feat deserving of Best Picture.


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