The Oscar Nominees: The Ones I Liked Less

Well, it can’t all be great. As good as this year’s Oscars slate is in comparison to say, 2021, it still isn’t quite able to escape the inadequacies or odd choices befitting any body of wealthy West Coast liberals and reactionary octogenarians. There isn’t a Green Book this year, or any other film whose victory might call into question the value of the exercise itself, but (unless you suffer from the same brand of brain rot as me) watching all the nominees is never a necessity to cover the best of this year in movies. Here are the ones you can skip: 

The Holdovers 

I hate to be the curmudgeon unable to find much of the joy in this film about a curmudgeonly old man finding joy, but — alas — The Holdovers was not for me. I’m incredibly sympathetic to its warm nostalgia for ’70s aesthetics, even if the specific genre its cribbing from has never particularly appealed to me.

Modern Film Flaws: Feminism is Not One Size Fits All

Feminism: Misunderstood, misused and undeniably important. Feminism is, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the “belief in and advocacy of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes expressed especially through organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” And, despite centuries of effort, somehow the sexes are still not treated equally and feminism is still very much needed. While it may not be a revolutionary idea that sexism still exists in the world, it somehow always shocks me when the continued discrepancy between genders is publicly revealed, for instance, through films. Recent films and media have pulled this continuing sexism into the spotlight, and they have also brought attention to another issue: The misuse of feminism. Recently, people have been taking things too far, using feminism to turn beautiful concepts into things that are considered “bad” or “weak.” I think the continuation of these tropes would be incredibly dangerous for the next generation of young women. First, let us look at the recent Barbie Oscar snub, where Greta Gerwig, who created one of the most talked about and critically acclaimed movies of the year, was left out of the Best Directors Category, and Margot Robbie, the star and a critical producer of the film, was left out of Best Actress.

The Ugly Truth: Lessons In Perfectionism

Upon viewing the rather uncensored Saltburn, as Rosamund Pike proclaimed her “complete and utter horror of ugliness,” I couldn’t help but reflect on my own musings of perfectionism. Though rooted in external aesthetics, Pike’s aversion served as a gateway into a broader, more insidious struggle — one that transcends the surface and subsists across various aspects of our lives. Beyond the glitz of Hollywood, this pervasive dilemma infiltrates the minutiae of daily routines, casts a shadow over academic pursuits and propels us into the relentless pursuit of a self-constructed ideal of success. As I grapple with my journey as a recovering perfectionist, Pike’s revelation resonates deeply. It speaks to the relentless pursuit of unattainable standards — chasing straight A’s, maintaining a buzzing social life, fitting into size two jeans and securing an impressive work position for my age.

I LOVE IT | Ode to Long Movies

Not every film can be enjoyed in a single evening. As you get into cinephilia, downloading Letterboxd and looking at their Top 250 (or perhaps those of Sight and Sound or AFI), you may come across those select few movies with runtimes that look like mistakes: Jesus Christ, how many hours even is 317 minutes? Some people end up shutting those movies out, excluding them from any potential watchlist for the obscene commitment they ask of audiences. Others, like me, set them aside as projects on a bucket list… I knew I couldn’t avoid Jacques Rivette my whole life. Earlier this month, I made that bucket list a whole lot shorter, watching a dozen or so of these ultralong “project” movies over break.

Substance in the Small Details of ‘Saltburn’

Many dismissed Emerald Fennell’s second film Saltburn as being “boring” and “empty.” My response to these comments: If this was your take on Saltburn, I don’t think you were paying close enough attention. Saltburn is filled with precise details, many of which I didn’t even appreciate until I had watched the movie a second time. Fennell first takes us to Oxford University in the early 2000s. Oliver Quick (played by Barry Keoghan) is a new student at Oxford at the time, struggling to fit in with his peers. Felix Catton (played by Jacob Elordi) becomes the object of Oliver’s attention, and the object of the film’s eye.

Cat Person and the Horrors of Dating Over Text

Warning: this article contains spoilers as well as discussion of sexual assault 

Cat Person, a movie which recently showed at Cornell Cinema, is based off of a short story written in The New Yorker by Kristen Roupinian. This thriller perfectly represents what it feels like to be a college girl dating in the smartphone era. The movie opens with a quote from Margaret Atwood across the screen: “Men are scared that women will laugh at them. Women are scared that men will kill them.” This sentiment bleeds through the whole film as the main character, 20-year old Margot, questions the intentions of an older man she meets while working at a movie theater. They see each other in person a few times, but their relationship exists mainly over text.

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour Movie Proves That Swift Really Is A “Mastermind”

Look what we made her do. With the release of her album Midnights just under a year ago, the announcement of The Eras Tour soon after, nine months of touring and the release of the rerecorded Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), Taylor Swift has accomplished more in a year than most of us could dream to do in a lifetime. And she didn’t stop there — Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour Movie was released on Oct. 13 and has quickly shattered records.

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’: Waning Hope, Aging Masters and the Moment

This article spoils Killers of the Flower Moon, though it should be noted that the nature of the film renders the spoilers somewhat benign. 

TW: Genocide

I’ve spent the weekend caught between two entirely contradictory thoughts, each reflected in a piece of media from the week before. The first is the conclusion to Arielle Angel’s article on the Hamas attacks and Israel’s genocidal response, articulating in a moment of truly devastating hopelessness a vision of possibility to hold close. There has never been a period in U.S. history of greater solidarity with Palestine, nor of greater Jewish participation in that solidarity. The other is the concluding moments of Martin Scorsese’s new masterpiece Killers of the Flower Moon: Both bitterly satirical and somehow earnest, a vision not just of evil’s inevitability, but of the function of art as a commodity to fetishize it, and all spoken by a man who’s dedicated his life to the rejection of evil and embrace of art. Scorsese’s exclamation point of bleakness comes at the end of perhaps his deepest felt tragedy to date, an indictment absent of nearly any reprieve. 

Killers of the Flower Moon adapts David Grann’s nonfiction book of the same name and follows a string of murders perpetrated against members of the oil-wealthy Osage Nation by white capitalists and their manipulated lieutenants.

XU | Tales of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency

It is impossible in these times to sit down quietly and write about a piece of media, pretending nothing is ever political. What does film say about history? Vice versa, what does history say about film? Are movies doomed to be an art medium purely for aesthetic enjoyment, or is there space for political engagement? These are a few of the questions that ran through my head as I watched I Am Cuba (1964), an epic film about pre-revolutionary Cuba told in four vignettes.

Halloween Horrors: “X”

Although often left unspoken, there are acceptable and unacceptable paths to fame in Hollywood. Often actors who work with explicit content are regarded as lesser than. In its satirical fashion, X challenges this long held prejudice.