Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car
Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Steven Spielberg, West Side Story
I’m not surprised that we don’t see filmmakers like Alexandre Koberidze (who’s What Do We See When We Look at The Sky made my top 5 of 2021), or Tsai Ming-Liang, who’s slow cinema masterpiece Days was one of the best things I saw last year. Like I said at the start of this series, the Oscars presents a specific kind of movie as ‘the best’ to a specific kind of viewer. That being said, let’s look at the nominees:
- Spielberg. No.
- PTA. I respect the fact that he’s at the point in his career where he’s able to do a victory lap and get an Oscar nom for it, but Licorice Pizza remains exactly that: a victory lap. Unnecessary racism for the sake of ‘historical accuracy’ is simply irresponsible filmmaking, and definitely shows that PTA’s best work is firmly in the rearview.
- Campion. If Hamaguchi gets snubbed, I guess I prefer it be by the first woman to get two nominations for Best Director. Wasn’t a huge fan of Power of the Dog, but it was well directed regardless of my opinion. If you’re gonna watch it, don’t do so for the story, do it for how damn good Campion is behind the camera.
- Hamaguchi. Ryusuke Hamaguchi not only gave us Drive My Car, which IS the best movie of 2021, but also released Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy in the same year!? Simply legendary. With the understated artisanship of Éric Rohmer’s best work, Hamaguchi crafts such complex worlds through these slices of life that give us some of the most profound explorations of the human condition ever to be captured on film. Give this man his flowers, and an Oscar to go with ‘em.