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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
Chris Matthews: Inspiring language learners at home and abroad
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
Chris Matthews: Inspiring language learners at home and abroad
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Staff Picks | Who will take home an Oscar?

Oscar+statuettes+appear+backstage+at+the+Oscars+at+the+Dolby+Theatre+in+Los+Angeles+on+Feb.+28%2C+2016.
Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
Oscar statuettes appear backstage at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Feb. 28, 2016.

Who will win an Academy Award on March 10? 2023 was a stellar year for cinema as box office hits like “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” drew audiences back into theaters. The splendid squad at The Pitt News Culture Desk is donning their movie critic caps to make audacious assumptions about who will take home an Oscar statuette next Monday. We had two correct Grammy forecasts hit the mark, so unless the presenters accidentally announce “La La Land” again, check back to see how many we nailed.

Actress in a Leading Role: Lily Gladstone for “Killers of the Flower Moon” // Patrick Swain, Culture Editor

Lily Gladstone’s tragic heroine Mollie Kyle is the heartbeat of one of the finest films of the year. The Osage heiress battles the evil that plagues her community as her husband, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Ernest Burkhart, orchestrates the murder of her family in a decades-long conspiracy to secure her oil fortune. Gladstone delivers a stellar, soul-stirring portrait of grief and resistance as Kyle holds together remnants of her broken family while forces of greed work to exploit her.

Martin Scorsese crafts a slow-burning epic centered on the suffering of Kyle’s family and the evil of their betrayers, and Gladstone embodies a stoic matriarch amid the backdrop of the plains of Oklahoma in a potent microcosm for colonialism and extraction. Gladstone, a woman of Indigenous descent who switches between dialogue in English and Osage, masterfully depicts the simmering devastation of her character as the world around her burns.

Animated Feature Film: Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki for “The Boy and the Heron” // Nada Abdulaziz, Senior Staff Writer

There is no day as perfect as a rainy night with a Studio Ghibli film gracing the screen, and my newfound favorite production is none other than “The Boy and the Heron.” Directed by the masterful Hayao Miyazaki, this cinematic gem transports viewers into a world where emotions flow like raindrops. Following the journey of Mahito Maki, a young boy grappling with loss during World War II, the film artfully intertwines emotions akin to raindrops. The animation pays homage to Ghibli’s legacy while carving its own path of brilliance.

Reminiscent of classics like “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Spirited Away,” the animation guides viewers through a vivid journey of self-discovery. Each scene, from lush forests to shimmering lakes, is a visual feast, accompanied by a captivating musical score by Joe Hisaishi. “The Boy and the Heron” embodies the pinnacle of animated filmmaking, deserving of recognition as the Animated Feature Film Award’s sole contender.

International Feature Film: “Society of the Snow” // Casey Carter, Staff Writer

There is an abundance of both nonfiction and fictional television shows and movies depicting plane crashes. However, “Society of the Snow” sets itself apart with its authenticity and profound emotional impact, resulting in me shedding several tears by the end — a testament to its exceptional storytelling. “Society of the Snow,” or “La Sociedad de la Nieve,” recounts the real-life tragedy of the 1972 Uruguayan plane crash, chartering a team of rugby players and their loved ones. This devastating event left passengers stranded in the remote Andes mountains for 72 days.

Director J.A. Bayona gives audiences an immersive and highly accurate telling of the story, encapsulating the victims’ emotions and their fight for survival. The cinematography is also exceptional, capturing the contrast in a landscape that is equally as beautiful as it is unforgiving. “Society of the Snow” emerges as an underdog in the International Feature Film category, contending with films such as Jonathan Glazer’s “The Zone of Interest.” Regardless of the outcome, I hope “Society of the Snow” will receive the recognition it deserves.

Best Picture: “Oppenheimer” // Ore Fawole, Staff Writer

You cannot often hear a pin drop in a theater as packed as the IMAX cinema showing “Oppenheimer” at 10:30 a.m. But after everyone’s back peeled off their seat, we all watched in silent awe as the scientists at Los Alamos tested the atomic bomb. Christopher Nolan’s 12th feature film may be his best release so far, and “Oppenheimer” wholeheartedly takes the cake for best film of the year. There is no aspect of this film that isn’t excellent. Stunning cinematography, captured on crisp 65mm black and white film stock, combined with Nolan’s clear and distinctive directorial style make this film a visual masterpiece. The sprawling ensemble cast would overwhelm some directors, but Nolan’s cutting and complex screenplay balances and paces the film beautifully. Nolan made the casting call to every white man in Hollywood — along with Florence Pugh and Emily Blunt — and they all brought their very best. While the Barbenheimer thing quickly got old, if the phenomenon got people to see a three-hour epic of humanity and war that they wouldn’t have seen otherwise, I’ve never been so thankful for pink blazers.

Writing (Original Screenplay): “Past Lives” // Sanvi Gandikota, Staff Writer

Celine Song, writer and director of the 2023 film “Past Lives,” created one of the most intimate and raw scripts that I’ve ever had the privilege of watching. Our scene starts in Seoul, South Korea, in the year 2000, and from then traverses through several locations and times as we learn about our three central characters and their ever-complicated love triangle. My favorite thing about “Past Lives” is its beautiful usage of two languages to distinguish the two vastly different relationships that the main character must choose between. Na Young, who later changes her name to Nora after moving to Canada, and her childhood best friend Hae Sung, speak in Korean during the beginning of the film, depicting their friendship at the age of 12. Later, when they reconnect, they continue to speak in Korean, creating a sense of intimacy and love between them, even when Nora’s husband Arthur is present.

“Past Lives” is a slow, character-driven film, which makes the writing all the more essential. Song brilliantly creates complicated feelings like tension, romance, heartbreak and longing in the audience, yet somehow the script is simple. The dialogues are gentle and there aren’t any big, dramatic arguments. Even in all its simplicity, the writing also sheds light on both interracial and monocultural relationships as well as the struggles of the Asian diaspora.

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