With the Academy Awards airing tonight, I thought: Who better to review this year’s Best Picture nominees than one of the year’s most opinionated characters? Fortunately, disgraced composer Lydia Tár immediately replied to my email.
Without further adieu, here are Lydia Tár’s thoughts on this year’s Oscar nominees:
Avatar: The Way of Water
Well, this one’s got my name on it. Seriously, though, it’s an undeniably impressive piece of work. But is it artful? That’s the question. Years of training for the actors and over a decade from pre-production to the edit room—sounds like Apocalypse Now with none of the fun. And where Coppola captured the true terror of wartime in myriad dimensions, I’d argue that for all of Cameron’s high-tech filmmaking, he only managed two.
I did take those fun little glasses home with me, though.
All Quiet on the Western Front
Some may ask, “Why revisit art, instead of making art anew?” And my answer is, and always has been, that nothing is new.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, why does this one feel so meretricious? Of course, I’m not one to talk—I do the same when I conduct. But an impression is at best a caricature and at worst a circus trick. The key is interpretation: are you simply a mirror, or are you a cracked looking-glass? We should all strive for the latter, and deeply fear the former. All that being said, I do love a good croon, and a facsimile of Mr. Butler’s vocal cords belong in the National Archives.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
Innovative. Astonishing. Heartbreaking. This film was certainly many things—but was it everything? And was it everywhere? And did it truly happen all at once? We’ll find out tonight, I suppose.
First of all, and for transparency: Steven is a good friend. But I don’t bow to the notion that personal relationships cloud art. On the contrary, I believe knowing an artist intimately—not Biblically, of course—can open a third eye of criticism, so to speak. And what do great artists do when they’ve seen all there is to see? They look inward. Finally, Steven is letting us peer inside—and the view is as spectacular as it is saccharine.
Triangle of Sadness
Is there anything more commercially fruitful today than the satirical disrobing of the ultra wealthy? I have no false imaginings that I’m completely removed from this critical target, and perhaps that is why I can see the merit in it. But be warned, all: the only view from the top is a very long fall.
Banshees of Inisherin
I’m going to say something I think some people won’t like: men are having a really tough time right now. We need to give them a break, and also some trophies for making movies. Seriously. I think they need it. We can always make a few extras to give ourselves, no?
How do you end a cycle of violence? Apparently, by talking. Who knew? I’ll tell you who knew: women.
I did not watch this movie.
Top Gun: Maverick
Boom boom, bang, whiz. Those are the sounds of cinema dying and spectacle taking its place. Tom Cruise is a once-in-a-generation talent. Unfortunately, that talent is as an ad-man for the military industrial complex. It’s like a giant piece of candy that takes two hours to chew—and the sugar hides the xenophobia.
One word: Tárrific.
Behind the Writing
The Oscars are tonight, and Lydia Tár talks funny. 1 + 1 = today’s piece. Let me know your predictions in the comments, and how you think Lydia will take it if she loses!
That’s all for today—thanks, as always, for reading and supporting this newsletter. See you Wednesday.
I gave up Drama for Lent!