Oscars 2023: Two Queers Discuss the Pretty Gay 95th Academy Awards

Every year since Riese and I started chatting about the Oscars, the nominees have gotten gayer. I’m not saying we’re the cause, but I do hope this pattern continues! This year there are three Best Picture nominees with queer or trans characters — love ’em or hate ’em that’s an exciting shift in mainstream film culture.

The conceit of these convos has always been that Riese has seen every Best Picture nominee and we discuss them one by one — even if I often skip a couple for my own happiness. That’s the case again this year because I just couldn’t get myself to sit through two politically objectionable spectacles! Read on to discover which ones.

Drew: I’m so excited!! The Oscars this year are SO GAY!!

Riese: You have definitely never begun our Oscars chat with a declaration of this nature — a declaration of excitement.

Drew: Last year was a little gay, but this year has TWO Best Picture nominees in the Autostraddle Lesbian Cinema Encyclopedia.

Riese: Should we start there?

Drew: Yeah! Let’s sTÁRt there.

Riese: lolol

I saw these two movies ON MY OWN VOLITION in the cinema theaters. Everything Everywhere All at Once is incredible. We love it. You said it was a queer masterpiece on our website page and I said, “Well, then i suppose I will go see it” and it was amazing! Also I think it will win????

Drew: I had hoped it would be part of awards season because A24 is so good at publicity. I mean they helped Moonlight win Best Picture which still feels like a miracle. But I also have learned not to get my hopes up!! And here we are almost a year later and I think it will win too! It’s very clearly the frontrunner.

When I saw the movie I thought it was such an obvious crowd-pleaser but I’ve found the people I’ve recommended it to have actually been pretty split. Personally, I think it’s such a fun and audacious movie and it made me feel so many feelings!!! I’ve definitely read some interesting critiques of the movie but it just worked for me. I liked it even more the second time. Yes, it has four endings but I think each one feels important.

Riese: It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Hopefully it will sweep.

Drew: It’s pulling from all these reference points but in a way that really does feel unique.

And I’m so glad Stephanie Hsu got nominated. She’s really the heart of the film for me.

Riese: Yes, it got more acting nominations than any other film with a majority-Asian cast ever.

Drew: Oh wow I didn’t realize that! I only want it to win supporting actress if it goes to Stephanie Hsu (sorry Jamie Lee) because otherwise I’m rooting for Angela Bassett. But I think it has a really good chance of winning Best Actress and is almost a definite lock for Supporting Actor.

Riese: Yeah! Michelle Yeoh will be the first Asian actress to win Best Actress, if she does, and is only the second ever nominated.

Drew: Holy shit! I didn’t realize that. It sucks that we’re still doing firsts.

Riese: Yeah! Seven films with majority-Asian casts have been nominated for Best Picture but not for any acting awards.

Drew: Over the years we’ve discussed our love-hate relationship to this institution, but my god what a bleak statistic.

Riese: Right, the way the Academy has ignored Asian actors forever is pretty significant. The only other Asian-American woman nominated for Best Actress, Merle Oberon, was actually passing as white at the time of her nomination in 1935, nobody knew she wasn’t until a year before she died, in 1978.

Drew: Jesus.

Riese: I think that the occasional presence of films with mostly Asian casts in the Best Picture category has obscured this fact!

Drew: If only Ryan Murphy’s Netflix series Hollywood was real and Anna May Wong had actually won something .

Riese: Speaking of gay people, Tar was a film.

Cate Blanchett clutches her fist while directing, playing Lydia Tar in the film Tar

Drew: Lydia Tár would not like Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood.

Riese: She does not have a Netflix subscription.

Like most of this year’s films, it was lengthy.

Drew: I think it should’ve been longer

Riese: omg

More credits at the start do you think? More of the New Yorker Festival Talk?

Drew: Hahaha. It’s not even that I’m such a big Tár stan. I just think a lot of the film’s problems arise in how rushed the last third feels.

Riese: My favorite part of Tar was Cate Blanchett’s outfits.

Drew: Did you hate it? I know a lot of people hate it.

Riese: Yes, rumor has it that Heather Hogan didn’t like it very much.

I didn’t hate it! I think I actually liked it. There were some very stupid things in it about cancel culture — like I cannot get over the idiocy of that supercut of her teaching going viral, both because her students didn’t need to do deceptive editing to prove that she was problematic and because today’s youths are media literate enough to know a chop job when they see it.

Drew: Yes, that was so stupid.

Riese: These little things irk me in a film that otherwise seems like it wants to be taken seriously as a sophisticated work. That scene and everything around it was incoherent. But I did in general like it, but I do wish we’d seen things happen instead of just seeing things start to happen.

Drew: To me the movie is 80% brilliant and 20% maddening. Todd Field knows how to make a movie — I love his previous two films — and Cate Blanchett really is at her best here. But I do think the movie would be better if Field was at all interested in engaging with how a powerful abusive lesbian might differ from a powerful abusive man — both in behavior and in how the world would react. And I wish I never had to hear the phrase “BIPOC pangender person.”

But since a lot of movies are just boring I have to have some affection for a movie I both love and hate with so much feeling. I could have watched that fake New Yorker Festival talk for three hours.

Riese: Yeah I have never been so enchanted by such a scene. I was like, how am I still into this? What’s going on?

Drew: It really sells you on her power and how she’s so easily able to abuse it.

Riese: Yes. She just commands the room.

Drew: If I was 22 and Lydia Tár was my boss I’d do whatever she asked no matter how inappropriate. They display that really well.

Riese: Yes, I was going to say it sold me on her power and how she would so easily be able to abuse me personally.

Drew: Speaking of women and abuse (sorry) should we discuss Women Talking? Another film I reviewed for the site! Again, a very gay year!

Riese: Yes! A very gay year.

Drew: Have you read the book?

Riese: I have not.

Drew: The book is maybe my favorite book I read all last year?? I highly recommend it.

Riese: Oh wow! Ok I will check it out. Did you read it before you saw the film?

Drew: I did. Which definitely impacted my experience of the film.

Riese: It felt like a play!

the women of 'women talking' sitting in a barn talking

Photograph by Michael Gibson / Courtesy Orion Pictures

Drew: It did sometimes feel like a play but Sarah Polley definitely took some formal swings I both appreciated and… felt mixed on.

Riese: Did you know that Sarah Polley played Ramona Quimby in the Canadian TV series Ramona that came out when I was a wee child and that I was obsessed with her for this reason?

Drew: I didn’t!

Riese: Anyhow that definitely impacted my experience of the film.

Drew: I love her movies! Take This Waltz and Stories We Tell are both favorites of mine.

Riese: Yes I remember [my ex-girlfriend] Marni saw Stories We Tell and then told me about it and I was like oh wow, Ramona is making movies now!

Sometimes I did feel like the film was both very good and also sort of trying to torture me.

Drew: Yeah, I mean, the color correction alone is kind of torture.

Riese: It’s so washed out! I think it was in your review you mentioned the effect of lowering the saturation on purpose.

I am impressed it got made and then also nominated for an award. But then I read about the true story it was based on obviously. And how the journalists who reported that story have some mixed feelings I guess about how their work hasn’t been acknowledged or something. I did think mostly while watching it that it reminded me of the Peacock documentary Sins of the Amish.

Also it had a trans character! In an interesting way.

Drew: I’m realizing that this year has a lot of movies I really admire without fully loving. I kind of like that? It’s exciting to see art recognized that I’ve had to chew on rather than either dismissing it or just being fully enamored.

Riese: Is that how you feel about Tar?

Drew: Yeah for sure. I feel that way about Tár and Women Talking. And also Triangle of Sadness.

Riese: That’s the other one that I saw before noms were announced, like that I saw on my own volition. The trailer intrigued me and we had a screener.

triangle of sadness cast: a bunch of rich people on a fancy yacht in the ocean

Riese: I liked it, mostly… but at a point it became… dare I say… too long. And the last act was some kind of “absolute power corrupts absolutely” business that felt like it undermined the structural wealth inequality commentary from earlier in the film. The moment when the grenade lands on the ship and they say “oh that’s one of ours” though, chef’s kiss.

Drew: I loved the first part, felt like the middle part needed to be reedited, and felt like the last part needed to be rewritten.

Riese: Yes.

Drew: The movie is so politically muddled. I think in general Ruben Östlund is good at making movies, good at examining relationships, but really bad at political commentary? I wish he’d stop trying to be satirical!

Riese: Like it’s more entertaining than it is Profound Class Commentary. Just be entertaining!

Drew: Yes absolutely. It’s wild to me that it got so many nominations but didn’t get a cinematography nom. That was my favorite aspect of it — plus a lot of the performances.

Riese: Yes I enjoyed the performances and the jokes.

Drew: Despite its length I found it very entertaining. As long as I didn’t think about it that much.

Riese: Right, I was still enthralled but i thought “my good sir, this has gone a bit too far.”

Speaking of films that are both long and not entertaining, I bet you can guess who gets my Snooze Award of 2023. Previous winners include Mank and 1917.

Drew: Okay actually I’m not sure because all of the movies this year are three hours long. But I’m going to guess All Quiet on the Western Front?


I mean, good job at showing war.

Drew: I watched that this morning.

Riese: How was it as a morning snack?

Drew: I literally watched it from 7:30am to 10am and it was fine.

I mean I do think it’s well-made. But having read the book and seen the previous Best Picture winning movie adaptation I’m not sure what else I got out of the experience

Riese: Yes, it reminded me of 1917 insofar as it was about World War I and it did look like World War I out there. My main question was “why” which maybe could’ve been answered if I’d paid attention better, but I feel like I already know that World War I was bad and that war involves people dying for no reason.

soldiers in the trenches in "all quiet on the western front"

Drew: In fact, I think it’s really telling that the only real anti-war cinema that breaks into the mainstream is about WWI, the easiest war to criticize.

Riese: Interesting! Why, because everybody who fought in it is dead? Or because nobody even knows what it was about? I suppose there are many reasons.

Because Germany lost and then they turned into Nazis?

Drew: Yes exactly. The only WWI movie I’d be interested in is one that draws a connection between the destruction of WWI and the onset of WWII, the war that gets romanticized in pro-war cinema most.

Riese: Yes, that would be far more interesting.

Drew: WWI is so obviously pointless and also happened so long ago. It feels less like a political statement is being made in these movies and more that WWI is being used for filmmakers to get off on brutality and violence.

Riese: Why do movies like this keep getting nominated? Does the Academy just love war? They want to GET INTO THE TRENCHES. Well not me. I prefer not to trench. Unless it is a trench coat worn by Lydia Tár.

Drew: Well, yes they do love war. But I find it upsetting that this is nominated alongside Top Gun: Maverick. Contemporary military practices should be shown with this level of brutality.

Riese: Instead of heroism and cute pop songs.

Drew: I don’t need a movie about the horrors of trenches, I need a movie about the horrors of a war where your enemy is completely depersonalized.


I just saw the first Top Gun last year.

Drew: I also just saw the first Top Gun last year and decided that was enough. So I must admit I didn’t even see Top Gun: Maverick.

Riese: I did see Top Gun: Maverick and it was, I suppose, what could be expected. Unfortunately, they did not bring back Kelly McGillis because she is a butch lesbian now.

Top Gun: Maverick also did not have any specific war. It was more like a video game war. Seize the treasure! It was a film about people flying planes, sponsored by the military.

Drew: Right, which to me feels very very bad !

Top Cruise flying a plane

©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Riese: Yes, all the pilots are like Grey’s Anatomy residents horny for surgery but instead they are horny to prove their Worth in the Skies, but absolutely 100% detached from any actual war. The first film was stunning in how it absolutely divorced the concept of being in the military from the concept of a war that involved other people. Like there were just … ongoing battles? In the sky? With … Russia? I think?

Drew: I’m admittedly humorless but this specific topic of representation is one I feel really strongly about. I am not morally perfect and I don’t judge the many, many people in my life who loved Top Gun: Maverick or other war propaganda or other military propaganda or cop propaganda or spy movies, spy shows, and true crime media that aid in these same things. But I do think these works of media are very, very bad. And very, very harmful. And I think people who say it doesn’t affect their worldview are kind of lying to themselves.

Riese: The first film did inspire a great roller coaster at Kings Island which opened in 1993 as Top Gun but apparently was renamed “Flight Deck” in 2008 and then “The Bat” in 2014. Top Gun was my favorite coaster at Kings Island and they played ‘Danger Zone’ when you got onto it and off it, with all this atmospheric smoke in the air.

Drew: Okay I do love that fun fact.

Riese: I suppose this rollercoaster perhaps epitomizes what you were discussing: “The ride’s queue line, where guests wait, featured music from the motion picture as well. An aircraft carrier control room exhibit was also a feature that guests would pass through on their way to the loading platform above.”

Drew: I’m relieved that Causeway only got one acting nom and The Inspection got nothing. At least our pro-military movies and gay movies were not the same movies. And I know me saying that will be controversial to some!

Riese: Right, yes.

Drew: I don’t need art to be “moral” that’s not what it’s about. But I do think art that is blatant propaganda for American imperialism and/or law enforcement should not be celebrated. No matter how fun, no matter how gay.

Riese: I think Top Gun: Maverick was silly and even though it was constructed carefully to be enjoyable to every human being on this planet and therefore fine it was okay I was engaged… I did find the politics distracting.

Drew: We can continue my buzzkill moment because I also didn’t watch Avatar: The Way of Water for political reasons.

Riese: Because you didn’t want to watch a tiny Justin Bieber lookalike run around the jungle with dreadlocks and a little flap of cloth-of-the-loin?

Drew: Lmao

Riese: I actually didn’t watch the first Avatar for political reasons and I still haven’t seen it.

Drew: Oh wow!

Riese: Julie & Brandy reviewed it for the site and I edited the video. It was the first episode of their show they did for us back then called Julie & Brandy in your Box Office, and they of course hated it. And then I read this article. And so then I was like ok I’m not going to see this movie!

Drew: What was it like seeing the sequel without seeing the first one?

Riese: First of all, it was just a real experience to be at a matinee at [notorious outdoor mall in Los Angeles] The Grove. I got a really big popcorn and a really big soda as a reward. They made me wear 3D glasses on my face and at first I thought I was going to barf.

But to be honest, Drew, the CGI was impressive as fuck.

Drew: Oh I’m sure it was!!

Riese: I thought it was just gonna be like a screensaver for three hours. But like holy shit! they really did some stuff!

(L-R): Ronal (Kate Winslet), Tonowari (Cliff Curtis), and the Metkayina clan in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

© 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Drew: Part of me is sad not to see technically impressive movies like Top Gun and Avatar. I do love big budget spectacle cinema.

Riese: Yeah! It was an impressive spectacle.

Drew: Look I love Titanic.

Riese: The part where there is a BIG FIGHT was like, Avengers movies in that it worked on me. I was twisting in my seat glued to the action.

Drew: Yeah for sure I get that.

Riese: I was very stressed out for everyone involved and the sea creatures.

Drew: I mean look I don’t think art is either good or bad—

Riese: Right. And I’m not trying to get you or anybody to see this film but I ended up having an ok time. Although also I left the theater having absolutely no clue which actors were in the movie besides Zoe Saldana.

Drew: Even something that’s trying to have more depth like Wakanda Forever ends up really politically fucked once it gets filtered through the corporate Hollywood machine.

Riese: I think it helped that the plot was like “imperial US military is bad and trying to destroy Indigenous culture.” Even if, unfortunately, it is still pretty centered on the white man who decided to join the Na’vi.

Drew: Yeah that’s how the first one was as well. And sure, narratives that are pro-US military destroying Indigenous cultures are worse than this tired one. But it’s still just like… I don’t know even as an AMC stubs member, my time is still worth something.

Which can bring us to another long one and another one I have mixed feelings about… Elvis.

Riese: I must admit I adored Elvis. Except for Tom Hanks’s makeup and entire get-up deal.

Drew: I had such a wild experience with Elvis because I went in knowing very little about Elvis. But I love Baz Luhrmann. And watching the movie I was like omg Elvis was so cool?? Like it totally worked on me. I had a blast.

elvis dancing on a tv show in the elvis movie

Riese: I didn’t know a ton but I knew some.

Drew: But then after I was like wait she was 15???

Riese: Oh yeah mhm.

Drew: And then I saw the Little Richard documentary at Sundance and was like right right.

Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis is more about Baz Luhrmann than Elvis in a way

Riese: How so?

Drew: I guess I just mean it’s about his bombastic style and his love for this figure. It’s like his boyhood admiration of this person rather than the man himself.

Riese: Mmmhm yes.

It did really remind me of how weird it is that we are just simply on board with biopics making stuff up as if that doesn’t become the true story we all believe about that person forever.

Drew: Right yeah it’s wild.

I also do wonder if Luhrmann feels about queer people the way his Elvis felt about Black people.

Riese: Oh like he is obsessed with our culture?

Drew: Yeah. I mean he’s the most flamboyant straight man in Hollywood lol

I do think from a political standpoint — this is a really sad thing to say — but if we dismissed every abusive man the history of 20th century music would mostly disappear. So knowing that about him doesn’t totally negate my initial experience of the film.

Riese: Right.

Drew: I’m definitely interested to see if Sofia Coppola gets her Priscilla Presley movie made though.

Riese: Yes, that would be nice to see.

Drew: I wonder if the solution isn’t less work about these people but, in fact, more. Some that turns them into heroes, some that engages with the realities.

Riese: Did Elvis obscure how young Priscilla was? I forget if that’s something I saw in the film or something I read about on Wikipedia.

Drew: It is not stated in the film. And since it’s the same actress the whole time it does not feel like she’s that young.

It’s interesting to go from a movie where the filmmaker is mythologizing another man to a film where Spielberg is mythologizing himself.

Riese: The Fabelmans was a weird experience because — and maybe you relate! — there were a few moments where I was like, oh wow that’s me? Because as a kid and a teenager I’d wanted to be a filmmaker. So like just… scrambling to get whatever equipment I could and then forcing my friends and family to be part of increasingly extravagant film productions. Being really proud of myself for figuring out ways to make second-rate special effects.

Drew: Yeah!

the fablemans family standing in the foyer of their new house looking around

Riese: My equipment was like a handycam, so obviously a different medium than him, but still. Anyhow so those parts I liked and the rest of it I did not. It just felt like… his childhood was not as interesting as he thinks it was. Like… your parents got divorced? Yeah buddy join the club! Then Seth Rogen tries to give him a really nice camera as a gift and he refuses it, just …. ugh.

Drew: See I think there IS an interesting movie in there that he drowned out with his self-mythologizing and his and Tony Kushner’s inability to write women.

Riese: What is the interesting movie in there?

Drew: I like the story of a kid with two very different parents who finds a way to combine the best of each of them into a successful life. Like his dad was in computers and his mom was an artist and Spielberg combined those things to become an icon. It could have been a beautiful tribute in a way. Not just to himself and his family but to the different ways to live a full human life.

Riese: Yes.

Drew: But even though I love Michelle Williams, that character never felt real to me. And not in a pointed oh she’s being seen through his eyes way. She just felt like a manic pixie dream mom. And Sammy’s Christian girlfriend was equally poorly written.

Riese: Yeah the character didn’t feel real to me either, it felt cartoonish almost? Something just irked me about her performance.

Drew: I’m glad Judd Hirsch got nominated for Supporting Actor though. His scene was one of my favorite movie scenes last year

Riese: I am googling “judd hirsch”

Drew: Lmao he was the uncle.

Riese: Oh yeah I liked the uncle stuff!

Drew: Spielberg is undeniably a talented filmmaker. I just think he often gets in his own way

Riese: Right. Yeah he’s made a few hits.

Do you wish I was a smarter person to talk to about movies?

Drew: You know a lot about movies!

Riese: You know the most about movies of anybody I’ve ever known.

Drew: So I can be trusted when I say I think Jurassic Park is better than Schindler’s List.

Riese: Bold!!!


Riese: I mean I haven’t seen Schindler’s List since I saw it in the theater when it came out. I liked it at the time as a 12-year-old Jew.

Drew: I have long felt that Spielberg is great at making action and sci-fi and fantasy and terrible at making serious dramas.

Riese: I do think Jurassic Park is one of the greats!

Drew: Jurassic Park, Close Encounters, Minority Report are all so good. Jaws?? I mean come on.

Riese: ET.

Drew: ET!

Riese: All the Indiana Jones movies.

Drew: I have not revisited the Indiana Jones movies since I was a kid and I’m nervous how I’d feel going back to them.

Riese: Oh yeah I have no desire to revisit. But they were a huge part of my childhood. The franchise was huge! And McDonald’s was giving away the videos as part of some deal.

Drew: Wow I’m realizing our last movie to discuss is also by a filmmaker whose work I loved as a kid but now feel more complicated about. And by kid, in this case, I mean teen.

Riese: The Banshees of Inisherin?

Drew: Yeah. I was a HUGE Martin McDonagh fan as a teen. I loved his plays. And I loved In Bruges.

Then Seven Psychopaths disappointed me and Three Billboards was… bad. But I really liked Banshees!!! I have some qualms but overall it’s my favorite thing he’s done in years.

Riese: This is the only film of his I have viewed. I did read The Beauty Queen of Leenane though.

Drew: That was my favorite play of his!

Riese: Yes, that was good! Banshees was also good. It is sad when your friends don’t want to be your friend anymore… and then when they chop off their fingers.

the banshees of inisherin

©Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Drew: I love Colin Farrell so much.

Riese: He was very endearing.

Drew: The fingers lost me a little. It felt kind of shticky for McDonagh. I mean, the first finger really got me but I kind of wish that had been saved for closer to the end.

Riese: I feel like chopping off your fingers would hurt a lot.

Drew: I do think that. I can barely handle a paper cut.

Riese: And maybe you would lose a lot of blood and need medical attention.

Drew: It felt a little like okay Martin here you are with your bursts of violence good for you. But all the character stuff was so good

Riese: Yes, good characters. Beautiful little landscapes.

Drew: Yes. I’ll be happy if Colin Farrell wins. Though I am pulling for Paul Mescal in that category. Aftersun should’ve been nominated for more !! That was my favorite of last year.

Riese: Yes! I keep wanting to see it because you have said such good things about it. But I cannot seem to bear the prospect of a father-daughter film.

Drew: Yeah I was going to say you should see it but only when you’re really in the right headspace.

Riese: Maybe I will wait until I am really depressed and then watch it.

Drew: Yeah that seems right. Or when you feel really steady.

Riese: I suppose that’d be another way to approach it.

Drew: Are there any other nominees you want to discuss?

Riese: Yes I have a few things to say. One is that I am happy for Brendan Fraser but also have some questions for everybody involved in The Whale from start to finish.

Drew: I did not see that for pointed reasons.

Riese: Two is that Blonde was terrible. I have questions for that as well.

Drew: Also did not see that for pointed reasons.

Riese: Well I was trying to watch all the best actress nominees. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever should have been nominated instead of Avatar.

Drew: I have complicated feelings about Wakanda Forever but I do hope Angela Basset wins.

Riese: To Leslie was almost like the kinds of 90s indies I used to love but it was just too abrasive, just really… I had a bad time.

Drew: I feel like most people have said To Leslie is good not great so I haven’t prioritized it.

Riese: Also I watched White Noise thinking it would be nominated for something and I did not like it except for the very last scene.

Drew: Okay so I kind of loved White Noise. Which is funny because I hated the book.

Riese: I HATED THE BOOK. I was like ok i’m stupid, it’s fine! I didn’t understand a single moment of the book.

Drew: The book was not for me! But the movie really worked somehow.

Riese: Yeah the movie was definitely better than the book.

Drew: Did you see Pinocchio??

Riese: I didn’t. Should I?

Drew: Yes I loved it so much. I hope it wins Best Animated or Turning Red which I also really liked.

Riese: Okay I will watch!

Drew: Like it’s maybe my favorite Guillermo Del Toro movie??

Riese: Oh yeah I think we discussed this, because I told you I hadn’t seen most of his films. I’ve actually only seen Nightmare Alley of his entire oeuvre.

Drew: Wow yeah I think you’d love his other movies. Especially this and Pan’s Labyrinth and Devil’s Backbone.

Riese: I think Everything Everywhere All at Once was my favorite movie of last year so I am happy that something I adored is being nominated and will probably win, which is rare!

Drew: Yeah if it wins it’ll be my favorite Best Picture winner since Moonlight.

The only movies I liked more last year were Aftersun, Tahara, Pinocchio, and Return to Seoul, which was robbed from a foreign language nomination!!

The foreign language category in general really annoyed me this year. Joyland also should’ve been nominated. Granted I haven’t seen Close, but it’s annoying to me that the director of that is getting this level of success after building his career on the horrifically transphobic movie Girl.

Riese: I didn’t see any of your favorites!

Drew: Return to Seoul is one of those that got a one week qualifying release but is getting a wider release now and I HIGHLY recommend it. Like it’s not a movie that would’ve found Oscar attention outside the foreign category (and clearly not even that) but it’s really special.

Anyway the good news is there actually were good movies nominated in pretty much every major category.

Riese: A small blessing.

Drew: If the favorites win each of them, it’ll be a really strong group of winners. And, you know, we might have Oscar winner Rihanna or Oscar winner Mitski.

Riese: You know who did a good job? Austin Butler. He really sounded like Elvis.

Drew: He sure did. And? He still does.

I want to watch EO before the awards this weekend.

Riese: Big year for donkeys and homosexuals.

Drew: I think that’ll be my last watch.

Riese: Not Avatar: The Way of Water?

Drew: Once I didn’t see that in theatres I’d committed to never seeing it.

Riese: It’s still there. You will have to spend $15 to park at The Grove but it’s still there. Oh wait you don’t have a car.

Drew: I’m in Toronto now also

Riese: Well then.

Drew: Who in Toronto is going to invite me to an Oscar party is my real question.

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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 568 articles for us.


Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3228 articles for us.


  1. Loved this, thank you for sharing! I haven’t seen many of this year’s nominated films other than Tár (which I broadly liked) and Everything Everywhere All at Once (which I LOVED SO MUCH), so this was super interesting. Definitely have my fingers crossed for all EEAAO’s nominations to come through, especially for Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan!

    • I realize this was not directed at me but All the Beauty and Bloodshed changed my life!! I liked them all (except Navalny which I was lukewarm on) but that’s the one I’ve been recommending most

  2. Everything Everywhere All at once is a modern-day masterpiece that more than deserves all the praise it’s been getting. I know when it comes to the Oscars nobody should have their hopes up too high but screw it-i’m gonna have my hopes up for this! I love it too much! Also keeping my fingers crossed for Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu. (also fun fact I found out that Tallie Medel’s from Ketchikan. Just a little something I found pretty cool. That’s like a 36-mile drive from me though so I kinda doubt I ever came in proximity of her.)
    Women Talking was a really great film in my book that just missed a few marks for me-but it’s also really brilliantly minded in many ways that feel kinda unexpected. Ever since I saw Stories we tell (stands to this day as one of the most creative docs I’ve ever seen.) I’ve been a fan of Polley’s directing and I’m happy to see her get to this level.
    Turning Red is probably one of my favorite Pixar films. Marcel the Shell felt very euphoric for me and both these made me bawl at the end. Would be grateful to see either of them win. I liked del toro’s Pinocchio for its originality and concepts, but to be honest I felt a bit more ambiguous about it.
    I’m also really pissed about the international film category. (No offense to E.O., I’m sure it’s great and I have it on my criterion watchlist.) It feels so fucking white! Also Close sucked! It was terrible! Where is the Joyland nomination? Where is Aftersun? Decision to Leave? WHAT ABOUT MARS ONE PEOPLE THAT MOVIE TORE MY HEART OUT! (note Brazil hasn’t won an oscar since Black Orpheus.)

    One film I really enjoyed this year (which got nominated for best production design and score I’m pretty sure?) was Babylon. Actually, Babylon and The Woman King (which was so wrongfully ignored by the academy!) were two of the few big-budget Hollywood movies I’ve felt strongly about in a long time. The only solid critique I had about the movie was Brad Pitt being cast (pentelho, why the hell are you still getting work at this level?) But I did not watch the movie for him. Also he’s just one part of it. If you’re willing to overlook that shitty casting decision it’s actually a wonderful film. I mean I can see why people are getting down on it in some ways, but It’s also just a really great commemoration of the silent era, the birth and downfall of Hollywood that came with censorship and the hays code, that magic cinema can hold that we all love so much, and I mean we also have Margot Robbie playing a character inspired by Clara Bow and Li Jun Li (beyond memorable here.) playing a character inspired by Anna May Wong. She literally is introduced singing a rendition of a song from 1931 called “my girl’s pussy” and then kisses a woman in the audience à la Dietrich. And then later Robbie gets bit by a snake! A rattlesnake! And Li sucks the venom out of her neck and they make out! Like the movie is worth watching just for that. But it’s also just a really wild ride of a film. We even get a Dorothy Arzner cameo! There are also a lot of fascinating character evolutions and Diego Calva is also great in his role and the ending is just so overwhelming. Maybe this was because It was the first time I saw a movie in theaters for god knows how long but at the end, I just bolted up out of my seat and clapped till my hands were burning.

  3. I watched every single Oscar nominated movie this year and many times I wondered if it was worth it, and this convo made me feel it was!

    So many great things here, but I want to especially thank Riese for rightfully saying every movie was too long, and Drew for rightfully saying Michelle Williams was a manic pixie dream girl in The Fabelmans. Those were my two biggest takeaways from this Oscar season! (That and unbridled anger at everything involving the film Top Gun: Maverick)

  4. Soooo straight people playing gay is still how to be nominated for an Oscar apparently. Surprised AS is so supportive of those movies still. And having an abusive lesbian be a huge part of mainstream queer representation (as played by a straight woman) is pretty awful. I know some straight people who only saw Tar, out of all the movies with lgbtq content this year, which is so damaging. Especially after the last few years of rhetoric about trans and queer people being abusive by existing.

    Why does AS feel the need to highlight and support that type of content. I don’t care how good the outfits are. Tracing the history of cinema, the impacts of representation on queer lives, and the importance of highlighting queer and trans stories created and acted by queer and trans community members, it’s really disappointing.

  5. I really do hope this doesn’t come across as rude, but if you want a WWI movie that directly confronts and deals with the connection between WWI and WWII… that movie is 2023’s All Quiet on the Western Front.

    Unlike the previous adaptions, which were made to be universalized movies that showcase a perspective on the war not unique to Germany, this adaption was designed with the German POV in mind. Beyond that it also was made after WWII and directly confronts the specter of WWII.

    Specifically the movie zeros in on the very nationalist myths and lies about the end of the war that the Nazi party built their entire political movement upon, not just showing how the officials to made that call were not cowards acting under the order of Jews, but framing them as heroes who made the right call for humanity and Germany specifically. The movie also adds a character who echos fascist talking points who is shown to have no actual love for German people (given how many boys lives he cares to waste) in the film. It is an utter refutation of the Nazi party’s more insidious foundational propaganda about the “betrayal” at the end of the war, which still remains to this day. The filmmakers purposefully in this movie confront the lies which fascists to this day still tell about how the war ended and why.

    Not that the Nazis liked the 1930 movie much. After all, when the American made English language picture was brought to Germany, they staged protests at screenings and even released rats into the theaters. Their philosophy is based upon a view of that war which casts Germany as done wrong by those who worked for peace, and any message about putting life above nationalist fervor is damaging to them. Which is why the filmmakers chose to create the very first ever German made adaption of the film specifically to address the German view of WWI and specifically the fascist ideology and myth making around it.

    • Sorry, 2022, not 2023 – I just got up and am still very much in a bleary half awake state, apologies.

      I also want to rec this comparison of the 1930 film with the 2022 adaption made by someone who ultimately did not like the 2022 film much. It gets fairly in depth about the direct conversation with Nazism the 2022 film is having.


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