Oscars 2024: Two Queers Discuss the Honestly Very Gay 96th Academy Awards

Every year Riese and Drew discuss the films nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and it seems like every year the films get gayer and gayer!

Sure, we can complain about snubs like May December, but it’s pretty thrilling to have four films with queer main characters plus another movie with a queer lead actor plus whatever level of queerness you want to assign to Barbie. (Or to Weird Barbie specifically.) Not to mention all the queerness throughout the other nominees, including historic nominations for Jodie Foster and Colman Domingo.

It was a good year at the movies and it’s looking to be a good year at the Oscars! As long as Oppenheimer doesn’t win all the awards…


Riese: Are you ready for movie time?

Drew: You know me. I’m always ready for movie time.

Riese: ALWAYS MOVIE TIME

Drew: And this year we’ve both seen all the movies!

Riese: Wow, we are so smart and on top of things

Maestro: “Almost Like a Parody of Biopics In This Really Precisely Crafted Way”

leonard bernstein and his wife in black and white in the movie maestro

Drew: I watched Maestro this morning just for you.

Riese: I’m so sorry. But also thank you. Democracy dies in darkness.

Drew: …I liked it. Sort of.

Riese: Omg! Tell me more.

Drew: Well I’d heard from most of the people in my life that Maestro was very bad. Except for a few people who were big defenders.

Riese: Our CEO Kylo famously loved Maestro and said every frame of it was perfect.

Drew: Yes, including our CEO. But not just Kylo! I mean, look at the reviews. It got some VERY good reviews

So I went in… suspicious. But with an open mind.

Riese: And three hours later…

Drew: And I think what surprised me was how strange the film felt? I was expecting a very by-the-book biopic. But somehow this one was so by-the-book that it came back around to being interesting! It felt almost like a parody of biopics in this really precisely crafted way. And since it’s a story all about a very precise artist it kind of worked for me on that level. At no point did I really feel for Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre but I was fascinated watching Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan. Ideally a movie that engages with celebrity and its own making should work on both levels so I’m not a total defender. But I did find it… interesting.

Riese: I thought “wow they are really doing those accents”

Drew: They sure were!! What a choice. A movie of choices. Which I admire more than something boring.

Riese: I liked that he was gay and dated Matt Bomer and I was interested in where he got his sweaters

Drew: He had great sweaters.

Also the makeup was really good. I went in expecting to hate it because that first still looked so absurd. But it was good!

Riese: Yeah the makeup didn’t bother me either from what I’d been primed to feel offended by.

I feel like I can’t remember why I didn’t like Maestro besides that I was bored.

Drew: I do think the movie is very emotionally flat even if it’s formally layered.

Riese: I made a lot of progress on my jigsaw puzzle

Drew: That’s not nothing. Can the best picture nominees be ranked based on how much jigsaw puzzle you did?

Riese: I think this was my only jigsaw movie! For the rest of them I was fairly focused.

Drew: That’s kind to the artists. I do think it’s a pretty great batch this year. Even the ones I don’t like are still fairly good movies.

Riese: Which one do you like the least?

Drew: Hmm maybe still Maestro. Can that be true?

Riese: It can, I’ll allow it. I mean, it was a good batch!

Poor Things: “It Was Saying Something Interesting About Poofy Sleeves”

Emma Stone in POOR THINGS. Photo by Atsushi Nishijima. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.© 2023 Searchlight Pictures All Rights Reserved.

© 2023 Searchlight Pictures All Rights Reserved.

Drew: Poor Things elicited a stronger negative reaction from me. But when it’s good, it’s better.

Riese: Right so the first 30 minutes or so, I was deeply unhappy.

Drew: Did you watch it at home?

Riese: I did

Drew: I was unhappy — or, at least, uncertain for the first half hour — but I was in a theatre so I was stuck.

Riese: Right, which I think is a fascinating element of the movie! I do think the first half hour could really make a person want to give up on the whole enchilada. In terms of movies I’ve seen where I really hated the start but eventually got into it, this might be the most extreme case.

I was confused. How had this movie become such a thing when we’re watching what really felt like sexualiizing an actual baby?

Drew: Hmm yeah I guess I was holding out hope there was a point. Because I do think lots of men would sexualize that baby.

I felt more uncomfortable with the opening because I do not trust Yorgos Lanthimos to have anything smart to say about disability and it felt like he was really trafficking in disability in those moments.

But my least favorite parts were the end…

Riese: It turned around for me with sex work. Well, first the dance scene. I loved them dancing.
As she got older, I was more compelled. Visually the whole thing was a romp once we got into color, just delightful to the eye.

Drew: Right, it’s visually stunning. And also original. Visually. Not narratively.

Riese: As a representation of sex work, it really distilled my own feelings when I was a sex worker let me do these men for a few hours and then I can spend the rest of my time learning about the world and how to make it better. And also hooking up with the girls I worked with. I could relate.

Drew: I like that. I just wish her time as a sex worker didn’t just lead her right back to the legacy of her “father.”

Riese: Right.

Drew: Although Stef wrote a great essay about that for us. I wish I could see the movie the way they did because I liked their essay more than the movie.

Riese: I honestly think that this movie deserved every nomination it got except for Best Picture and Best Director.

Drew: I LOVED Mark Ruffalo. I thought he was delightful. Every time he was on screen I was happy.

Riese: Yes, he’s such a gift! Fantastic man, whether an incredible Hulk or an incredible jerk, I am here for it.

Drew: But I didn’t think the movie had anything interesting to say about feminism which is fine except it THOUGHT it was saying something interesting.

Riese: Oh yeah, it didn’t. Do people think it’s saying something interesting about feminism?

Drew: It has a real “boy who takes feminism 101 in college and then wants to tell others what he learned like he invented it” energy to me.

Riese: I thought it was saying something interesting about poofy sleeves.

Drew: Right lol

But, I mean, I do think people are celebrating it as a story of female sexuality and female liberation.

Riese: Fascinating, it did not feel like that to me at all.

Drew: I do think it’s interesting when paired with Barbie which also isn’t exactly ADVANCED in terms of feminism. But it worked so much better for me.

Barbie: “Simply a Delight”

three kens in the barbie movie

Drew: Did you like Barbie?

Riese: Oh I adored Barbie. I had a fantastic time.

Drew: Right, I just had so much fun!! I don’t care if “the speech” is deep or not.

Riese: Yeah, simply a delight.

Drew: I laughed so much. I went to the movies with friends dressed in pink.

I also do think Gerwig and Baumbach are smart. Even when operating in accessible territory. Like I think there are more interesting undercurrents throughout the movie about gender than the obvious statements.

Riese: Totally, the speech felt like when I would go to The Wing to see a speaker and watch straight women clap their hands off their bodies for very basic concepts of female empowerment that I feel like I thoroughly digested in 1995.

Drew: Yeah it’s very much that. But it’s also only 30 seconds of a 2 hour movie!

Riese: I had no emotional reaction to the “speech” whatsoever but I had a huge emotional reaction to the Indigo Girls and Weird Barbie (who is gay).

Drew: Lmao right!

Riese: And the dance scenes! God and “I’m Just Ken”!? Truly a gift.

Drew: There’s a lot in there for everyone at every level

Riese: Absolutely.

Drew: People were mad Gosling got a nom and Robbie didn’t but sorry Gosling IS the best part!

Riese: And the sets. I think Barbie really really speaks to how wonderful sets are.

Drew: I love sets!

Riese: The world felt so much more lived in and alive than the CGI we have come to accept as cinema.

Drew: I just watched Brigadoon, a not very good Gene Kelly movie, and was like wow this movie isn’t great but THE SETS LOOK AT THE SETS.

Riese: Right!! BRING BACK SETS

Drew: Even with the mix of CGI, I do think the actual sets in Barbie make a huge difference.

Riese: Yes, and yeah Gosling killed. Margot did great but Best Actress was a tough category to get into this year.

Drew: It was! I would’ve kicked out Emma Stone for Greta Lee. Not for Robbie.

Riese: Yes. I would’ve kicked out the entire room for Greta Lee.

Past Lives: “Broke My Heart In the Best Way Possible”

past lives still, two people by a carousel looking wistful

Drew: Past Lives is one of my favorites.

Riese: Which AGAIN we have the pattern of a film with an Asian cast nominated for Best Picture but not for acting, the Academy’s favorite nomination trope.

Drew: It’s very frustrating for that to return after Everything Everywhere All At Once did so well last year.

Riese: Past Lives broke my heart in the best way possible even though I watched it on an airplane.

Drew: An airplane!

Riese: I know, awful.

Drew: I saw it in theatres and it also broke my heart.

Riese: It was so… real? Like it was so tangible. it told its story in such a distinct way. I don’t really have words, but I think it’s my favorite of all the nominees. And Greta Lee was robbed

Drew: As a longtime fan of the Before Trilogy, I love movies where two people walk around being in love. And I appreciated the complexity here and that multiple love stories were allowed to exist at the same time without anything being taken away from either of them. And Greta Lee was robbed yeah.

Riese: Right it was so true to the human heart rather than being true to the rules of a romance plot? Just wow.

Everybody who hasn’t seen it should go see it. It has zero chance of winning but it’s perfect.

Drew: I wish it had a shot at winning Best Screenplay but that seems almost as unlikely.

Riese: Oh we should’ve said that Maestro was gay and so was Poor Things.

Drew: Yes! And yet Past Lives felt the gayest.

Riese: Yes, because exes are gay.

Drew: Inherently. And longing!

Riese: Having an ex is gay. And longing is gay.

Actually, Best Actress is really gay this year. Three queer characters, Lily Gladstone, and Carey Mulligan playing a woman married to a gay. No matter who wins, it will be somehow gay.

Drew: Wow yeah. I do hope Lily Gladstone wins. I really really really do.

Riese: I think she will.

Killers of The Flower Moon: “A Complicated Movie”

killers of the flower moon

Drew: Killers of the Flower Moon is a complicated movie. I think it’s a masterpiece. But it wouldn’t work without Lily Gladstone. And I understand people who still think it doesn’t work.

Riese: Well, as you know I love a movie based on a true story. And this was an astounding story I had never heard before.

Drew: Wow I would’ve assumed you’d read the book already!

Riese: No I had actually no idea what the movie was about when I began watching it. But I was riveted.

Drew: It’s a tough watch. I think that sometimes gets lost in film culture chatter about Oscar buzz and legendary filmmakers. It’s very, very painful.

Riese: Yes, it’s excruciating. It was deeply upsetting. And frustrating? I’m struggling with words!

Drew: The context I bring to the film is that Martin Scorsese cinematically raised me. His documentary A Personal Journey Through American Cinema with Martin Scorsese was my introduction to worlds of cinema. And that documentary has a whole section dedicated to Westerns.

To me, this film feels like Scorsese grappling with that genre and its importance to his own development as a cinephile and a filmmaker. And to cinema history in general. I mean, Orson Welles famously watched John Ford’s Stagecoach on a loop to prepare for directing Citizen Kane. Stagecoach is awful! Truly atrocious in its anti-Indigenous racism and violence.

So to me Killers is Scorsese’s apology for the first 100+ years of Hollywood. Now does he have the ability to apologize for all of that harm? No. Does an apology do anything? No. Do I understand people who are totally uninterested in an old white man grappling with this long-time racist genre he loved? Absolutely. But, to me, the ending moments where he appears on-screen sell it. It makes this subtext into text and a part of the work. The film itself is acknowledging and questioning who gets to tell these stories and how. And I do think there’s value in that.

Riese: I agree.

Where do you feel like it fits into the canon of films about Indigenous people centered on white people nominated for Oscars?

Drew: That’s an interesting question, because Dances with Wolves is also an apology of sorts for the western. But I find this sort of self-critical portrait of evil white people to be far more compelling (and far more ethical) than the Kevin Costner white savior fantasy.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. The 70s were filled with revisionist westerns grappling with the genre. But this does feel unique in its involvement of Indigenous voices. Even if there will always be something lacking when it’s a white filmmaker making the choice to involve Indigenous voices. Like that in itself is such a fucked paradigm. Oh wow good for him for involving people in telling THEIR OWN STORY. I don’t think Scorsese deserves praise for that decision. I think it is bare minimum for this movie to have any worth. But I’m still glad he did it and I do think he really is one of the great filmmakers in the history of the medium.

I just hope we’re able to get to a point where Indigenous filmmakers are given the chances that Scorsese received. Because it’s not a matter of an Indigenous filmmaker getting $200 million from Apple — although that would be great. It’s a matter of an Indigenous filmmaker who made one indie getting to make another indie a couple years later and then a mix of low budget to mid budget to high budget films, several films a decade, for several decades, and then getting $200 million to make an epic from Apple or whoever owns studios in fifty years.

Riese: I too hope we are able to get to that point.

Drew: Scorsese has long produced projects from younger filmmakers and it would be really great to see him throw his name and power behind more Indigenous filmmakers after this. Whether that’s to produce work or to restore work through the Film Foundation. Because the artists are out there ready to make bigger projects and the art is out there ready to be restored.

Riese: Do you think that’s likely to happen?

Drew: No, probably not. But maybe! Ultimately, I don’t think we can rely on one guy even if it would be satisfying for a powerful man to do something good.

Riese: Yes, evergreen statement.

Drew: And for the record Scorsese has restored and uplifted movies from around the world many from underrepresented voices and places. So it’s not totally unlikely that Scorsese might make more of an effort to help Indigenous filmmakers after this.

Riese: But you’re right it has to be an overall change. And also it feels like it’s taking a long-ass time for people to get into the rooms where these decisions are made. There’s still a homogenous network of peers in Hollywood pushing each other forward as they’ve been doing for some time.

Drew: Yup! And it feels as absurd talking about how we hope the industry uplifts more Indigenous voices after this as it did when we were discussing CODA and saying that about deaf voices. The artists are here! They’ve been here! We’re so far past the point of stepping stones. I guess I’m more forgiving of this because it’s SUCH an epic made at a scale very few have access to. But still it’s very frustrating.

One last thing I’ll say about Killers is I hope it wins for score too. That would be a really beautiful tribute to Robbie Robertson’s career. There would be something really poetic (and deserved) if Killer’s two wins went to Indigenous people.

Riese: Yes, and if Lily Gladstone wins it’d be the first win for a Native American actor.

Drew: Overdue doesn’t even begin to cut it.

Riese: The first and only time a Native American woman has given an Oscar speech was Sacheen Littlefeather who Marlon Brando sent to accept the Oscar on his behalf in protest of how Indigenous people were treated by the film industry.

All I have to offer is historical trivia. What other Scorsese movies should I watch?

Drew: You’re in luck! I wrote a whole guide. Scorsese is so associated with gangster movies but his best work goes beyond that!! (Well some of his best work. I do love Mean Streets.)

Bringing Out the Dead and Age of Innocence are two of my favorites. Also Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and Hugo!

Riese: Well, you know which one I loved. Predictably for my mid-taste.

Drew: The Aviator?

Riese: No.

Drew: Shutter Island? The Color of Money? I do just enjoy naming them. What a filmography!

Riese: The Wolf of Wall Street!

Drew: I need to rewatch that. It’s my least favorite of his narrative films but I might be wrong.

Riese: I watched it after reading T Kira Madden’s memoir! (Her uncle is Steve Madden who is part of that story.)

Drew: I didn’t know that! Anyway you should watch Bringing Out the Dead. That’s my favorite.

Riese: Okay. I think I have only seen… Mean Streets, After Hours, Raging Bull, Taxi DriverPublic Speaking, and The Irishman. (And New York Stories, which had three segments with three different directors.)

Drew: Have you seen The Departed?

Riese: I have not

Drew: Matt Damon is in that and also in Oppenheimer and I’ve been trying to come up with a segue that isn’t genocide.

Oppenheimer: “Quite Obvious In Its Ethical Assessments”

oppenheimer

Riese: I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Oppenheimer.

As I said, I do like movies based on true stories, but I was like wait why is everybody excited about this movie about the guy who made a bomb? That killed people? I did a huge year-long research project about Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 8th grade, like the truly insane preteen I was, and throughout all that never once had the thought “I’d like to know more about Oppenheimer.”

Drew: I’m not a big fan of Christopher Nolan. But I’ve seen all his movies and I always go see them in theatres in his preferred format. (Except Tenet because pandemic.) Even though he’s not a filmmaker I respond to, I appreciate his precision and his commitment to celluloid. I do the experience and I’m always glad I did! Even if I don’t love the films. So I watched this in 70mm IMAX and I did find this to be one of his more interesting works.

Riese: I loved Memento as an aspiring filmmaker in 2000.

Drew: I just don’t think he’s as strong a writer as he is a director. And I especially felt that here in the last third with all the senator stuff. (I also don’t think Robert Downey Jr. is particularly great in this! Sorry!)

Riese: They did a good job of making Robert Downey Jr. look quite old though. I thought, wow he looks old here. Nice work on the makeup. My girlfriend didn’t even recognize him!

Drew: Cinema is all about making men in their 50s look like they’re in their 70s. This is why Scorsese is such a visionary. For The Irishman he said no I will make a 70 year old look like a 30 year old with weird posture.

Sorry back to Nolan

Riese: It was an interesting story, what do we do with genius, great power = great responsibility, the unintended consequences of the manifestation of that genius, the lesser of two evils is still evil, et al

Drew: Yes I agree! I think it’s actually quite obvious in its ethical assessments.

Riese: It is.

Drew: The scene with the audience cheering is horrifying.

Riese: It is. Being a safe distance from the consequences of your country’s military actions and dehumanizing its victims… relevant!

Drew: Very! And I don’t want Nolan’s movie about the actual bombings… There are many great Japanese movies about that. (Plus one good French one.)

Riese: Oppenheimer was my biggest surprise this year. Even if I still don’t understand why there was all the hype around it being released at the same time as Barbie.

People were talking about it like it was Jurassic Park.

Drew: Oh I’m such a Scrooge when it comes to Barbenheimer

Riese: Drew Burnett Gregory, famously a Scrooge

Drew: The memes really upset me. Sorry but Oppenheimer is about something really horrifying!

Riese: Yes.

Drew: I don’t want Barbie bomb imagery as a joke

Riese: Yeah, that’s very tacky

But my TikTok parasocial gay bestie Max didn’t know that Oppenheimer had nothing to do with Barbie:

Drew: Wow that must’ve been a real shock.

It was a big year for very relevant movies to the current ongoing genocide against Palestinians even if Hollywood has remained rather neutral in their statements.

The Zone of Interest is another.

Riese: Yes.

The Zone of Interest: “I Do Admire It Intellectually”

stark landscape of in germany in zone of inteest

Drew: I’ll let you share your thoughts since I wrote a whole essay about that one for the site.

Riese: Well, again I would describe my state of being during the film as “upset.” I’m a simple girl, I like to be entertained! Was it good? I don’t know. All I know was that it was horrible. Well made? I think so! But me? Unwell.

Drew: I don’t need to be entertained! But I’m still not sure Zone of Interest was miserable in a way I found it worth it. I do admire it intellectually.

Riese: Yes.

Drew: I appreciate its approach, especially as a Schindler’s List hater.

Riese: Right, which I have not seen since I saw it in theaters when it came out and so it will remain in my mind as a moving film.

I can’t imagine being in this movie? Like do you want to go to work and do that?

Drew: Sandra Hüller is a genius capable of anything.

Riese: Her hair was intense.

Drew: You really liked the Nazi hair. Rough for you.

Riese: I mean… a Jew listening to the screams of dying Jews for two hours… I needed something else to think about and for me it was cinnamon roll hair.

Drew: The movie is 106 minutes and the second shortest Best Picture nominee (Past Lives is 105) but yes it felt that long.

Riese: The stuff where they were discussing the machines they were building to expedite exterminating the Jews… They famously didn’t show anything happening at the concentration camps, but I do think those pieces were perhaps the most impactful when it comes to trying to grapple with the sheer scale of the Holocaust, like the actual numbers of Jewish people they killed, how efficiently and ruthlessly.

The thing where the film was in negative when the Polish girl delivered the apples was very “me in 1996 with a new special effects filter.”

Drew: Yeah those sections did not work for me as much as I would have liked. Especially considering how effective Glazer was in Under the Skin when he experimented with form.

Riese: I think Jojo Rabbit was better.

Drew: Okay that’s a wild opinion but I haven’t seen Jojo Rabbit so I can’t tell you that. Someone in the comments will though I’m sure.

Riese: Okay tbh I just said that to be funny. But, anyhow, I don’t know. I hated The Zone of Interest? But was it good or bad? I don’t know.

Drew: Fair.

Riese: It seems like it was good but is film supposed to be painful? Does anybody want to watch it more than once?

Drew: I think sometimes film should be painful, yeah. It just has to really be worth it for me. And this wasn’t.

Riese: I mean, also I am a Jewish person, so I have seen… a lot of Holocaust movies, read a lot of Holocaust books…

Drew: Right, same.

Riese: I took a whole class about Holocaust Literature after clearly not getting enough in religious school. So maybe the impact for me was not the same as someone who didn’t spend so much of their youth and adolescence thinking and hearing and reading about the Holocaust.

Drew: I do think this was one of the better Holocaust movies but I’m not sure there’s ever been a narrative Holocaust movie I’ve liked. Unless we count Márta Mészáros’ The Inheritance as a Holocaust movie.

Riese: Did you like Life is Beautiful?

Drew: I hate Life is Beautiful. Even more than Schindler’s List.

Riese: I saw it in the theater and at the time really liked it. It felt daring. Anyhow, why did you hate it?

Drew: I just don’t think real life horrors should be twisted by sentimentality. I’m not sure why I feel that so strongly. I mean, artists should do whatever they want, but I almost always hate it.

The Holocaust doesn’t need sentiment. Which is why Zone of Interest really should be a movie I love.

Riese: Right, it has no sentiment.

Drew: But it just didn’t quite click for me.

Ultimately I think a movie like The White Ribbon that takes place decades before the Holocaust has more interesting things to say about the Holocaust itself than any narrative film set during the time.

I think fiction is maybe best when it writes around genocide and similar horrors. I think it’s very hard to tell a story depicting these things without it feeling either trite or empty

Riese: Right, yes — it’s tragic and horrible so any depiction of it at all will move you to anger and sadness and rage. That’s easy enough. The more challenging approach is getting at that emotion without the depiction. The killing itself is a clearly and unimpeachably horrible thing, the culture that enabled it and the people who did it is the more challenging complicated thing.

Drew: Yes, which is part of what I would’ve preferred from this. A similar movie about a German family living in Germany during the Holocaust rather than a German family in Poland running the camp. I think something is lost in that focus.

Riese: Right.

Drew: Anyway I know Sandra Hüller is the obvious segue but I want to save my favorite movie for last so can we get The Holdovers out of the way?

The Holdovers: “The Alexander Payne of It All Is Really Hard to Get Over”

the holdovers

Riese: Hahaha yes! Well, it was set at a boarding school in the 70s, so I was already on board.

Drew: Right, you famously went to a boarding school in the 70s because you are 60 years old.

Riese: Exactly, yes, wearing Maestro Sweaters all winter long.

Being trapped in boarding school in winter was actually relatable to me. Even if I do sort of hate the trope of cantankerous miserable teachers who make their students as miserable as they are.

Drew: But they secretly have a heart and inspire the students !!

Riese: Right, a great surprise to us all. It was good, I liked it, I teared up. I don’t want to watch it again but I felt moved forward in this narrative in the way I was supposed to.

Drew: I held off on watching this one until last week because I hate Alexander Payne. I’ve never been a fan of his work and then I find it kind of horrifying how little the industry seemed to care when Rose McGowan accused him of rape. He said “she wasn’t 15, she was 18 and I was 31 and I was casting a project” and I just didn’t find that a compelling rebuttal?

Like I do think The Holdovers is a very fine movie with three great performances—

Riese: Yes, Da’vine Joy Randolph, the Mormon boy, and Carrie Preston.

Drew: But the Alexander Payne of it all is hard to get over for me.

I finally watched it not just for this chat (and because it was free on Peacock) but because Marya Gates wrote a really great essay for us about Paul Giamatti’s performance in it and I wanted to have context before editing that with her. And so for that it was worth it!

Riese: Yes you had announced an intention to not watch it.

Drew: Yeah but it was more because of my own feelings than thinking a boycott would do anything about Payne and the other accused rapists of Hollywood. So once I had a reason, I pushed through the feeling.

Riese: Ok I just looked him up and he directed Election

Drew: He did.

Riese: Well.

Drew: Well.

Making movies about pieces of shit who want to fuck teenagers doesn’t mean YOU are a piece of shit who wants to fuck teenagers. But… History shows… Sometimes… It does.

Riese: It has been known to occur!

Drew: Sometimes!

Speaking of writing, let’s move onto American Fiction.

American Fiction: “Sometimes Real Life Is Obvious Satire”

american fiction

Riese: Ok, I loved this cinema! From working in publishing I was slightly annoyed by the inaccuracies of just how he was able to pull off not being who he said he was. Like contracts have to be signed, JT Leroy happened, and people have a radar for these things now. But it definitely captured the culture of publishing, and other than that annoyance I thought it was great. Just so many great performances.

Drew: Yeah I liked it more as a family dramedy than as a publishing world satire but I agree the performances are great.

Riese: Yes, those were the parts I was most invested in.

It’s definitely another movie that made a point I already knew but was perhaps a new point to other people?

Drew: Right it’s one of those things where the satire feels obvious but, look, I’m not in the literary world, but in the film world random producers will say comments that make you feel like it’s 2002 or, honestly, 1957. Sometimes real life is obvious satire.

Riese: True.

Sterling K. Brown also just!! Great to see him in a role like that. And a gay role at that!

Drew: He’s SUCH a great actor And Jeffrey Wright is amazing too.

Riese: Yes Jeffery Wright is amazing.

The conversations about who to give the book award to felt pretty sharp and right on the money.

Drew: I was mad Charles Melton wasn’t nominated for supporting but I wouldn’t replace Sterling K. Brown. He should replace Robert Downey Jr. who inexplicably is going to win!

Riese: Why on Earth give Robert Downey Jr. an award for Oppenheimer? What does that do for us as a society? If he wasn’t nominated for The Avengers: Endgame, then why now?

Anatomy of a Fall: “I Love This Movie Lots and Lots”

anatomy of a fall conversation

Drew: Do you know who else could’ve been nominated for best supporting actor? The dog from Anatomy of a Fall !!!! The best movie !!

I love this movie lots and lots and find it to be such a challenging movie about relationships and parenthood and the brutality of the courts system. (French court here but also many other similar systems around the world.) All the performances are incredible. And while I said earlier I wish Past Lives would win Best Original Screenplay, I will also accept this winning.

Riese: Oh yeah that poor dog. He did a good job of almost dying and then not dying. I hope he has a big career ahead of him.

Drew: Did you like this film?

Riese: I did. But it was a wee bit slow at times for little old me. I did like it, however, yes.

Drew: I do wonder if it works better in theatres. Long movies usually do.

Riese: I didn’t do a puzzle because of subtitles. I had to be ON THE BALL.

The courts were wild.

Drew: Yes but also not THAT much crazier than courts here. Or at least depositions here. I used to have a job filming legal depositions and lawyers would be so rough on people. It was horrifying. One of many things that radicalized me.

Riese: Right, we have more structures that obscure how horrible things are here. I was thinking specifically of the little boy. We don’t see interrogations like that of children in a public court.

Instead I guess it’s in an interrogation room.

Drew: Right. It’s interesting that it’s so out in the open. Horrifying! And interesting.

Riese: In conclusion, in all of the years we have done this, this was my favorite year for cinema.

Drew: And the best movie May December wasn’t even nominated! My other faves Mars One, How to Blow Up a Pipeline, and Return to Seoul also weren’t nominated but I didn’t expect any of those. May December had a shot!

Riese: Yes, that is a way that many people feel. (I am not one of those people but I did like May December!)

The best movie of 2023, Bottoms, wasn’t even nominated, oddly.

Drew: Bottoms! When will the Academy be brave and nominate lesbian comedies? Drive-Away Dolls for 2025 Best Picture.

Riese: We can start the campaign now.


The 96th Academy Awards air on ABC, Sunday, March 10 at 7pm EST.

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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 515 articles for us.

Riese

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 3178 articles for us.

2 Comments

  1. Re. Jojo Rabbit, I have to watch it again to be really sure of my opinion, but the film works, at least for people who can swing with the Taika Waititi humour. It is a film about a German family, not specifically about the Holocaust, and it struck me as surprisingly precise about how the 3rd Reich was for the active participants, at least in the earlier years. It shows what is rarely seen, the colorful, entertaining, adventurous, even humorous side of nazism, a major part why it was so successfull. Based on a childrens book, the film is never paedagogic, which makes it devastating. At the very least it’s a genuine point of view in a somewhat ritualised genre.

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