The 2023 Golden Steve Award nominations

March 4, 2023 • 12:30 pm

Each year (see here) my nephew Steven, a movie buff and critic who proclaims himself a far better judge of cinema than is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, comes up with his equivalent of the Oscars: the renowned “Golden Steve Awards”.  There is no modesty here, but the proclamation of the best of last year’s cinema, bar none. (This dogmatism must run in the family!) He added this in his email:

Here’s this year’s crop. At age 96, Mel Brooks has become my all-time oldest nominee!

The award season begins with his list of nominees, some of which I present here (there are other categories as well). As he notes in his introduction below, the winners will be announced on April 1.

Presenting…the 2022 Golden Steve Awards.

Far and away the most coveted of motion picture accolades, Golden Steves are frequently described as the Oscars without the politics. Impervious to bribery, immune to ballyhoo, unswayed by sentiment, and riddled with integrity, this committee of one might be termed in all accuracy “fair-mindedness incarnate.” Over 200 of the year’s most acclaimed features were screened prior to the compilation of this ballot. First, some caveats:

1) Owing to a lifelong suspicion of prime numbers, each category comprises six nominees, not five.

2) A film can be nominated in only one of the following categories: Best Animated Feature, Best Non-Fiction Film, Best Foreign Language Film. Placement is determined by the Board of Governors. Said film remains eligible in all other fields.

3) This list is in no way connected with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—a fact that should be apparent from its acumen. Please look elsewhere for Oscar analysis.

Winners will be announced on Saturday, April 1. And now, the worthy nominees (click the screenshot to read them all):

The nominees, by category:

Best Picture

The Fabelmans
Return to Seoul
Saint Omer

Best Director

Davy Chou, Return to Seoul
Terence Davies, Benediction
Alice Diop, Saint Omer
Jerzy Skolimowski, EO
Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans
Charlotte Wells, Aftersun

Best Actor

Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin
Caleb Landry Jones, Nitram
Jack Lowden, Benediction
Paul Mescal, Aftersun
Bill Nighy, Living
Mark Rylance, The Outfit

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett, Tar
Danielle Deadwyler, Till
Rebecca Hall, Resurrection
Vicky Krieps, Corsage
Park Ji-min, Return to Seoul
Andrea Riseborough, To Leslie

Best Supporting Actor

Paul Dano, The Fabelmans
Brian Tyree Henry, Causeway
Anthony Hopkins, Armageddon Time
Alex Lutz, Vortex
Matthew Maher, Funny Pages
Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Supporting Actress

Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin
Judy Davis, Nitram
Dolly de Leon, Triangle of Sadness
Nina Hoss, Tar
Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Guslagie Malanda, Saint Omer

Best Foreign Language Film

EO (Jerzy Skolimowski)
Fabian: Going to the Dogs (Dominik Graf)
No Bears (Jafar Panahi)
Return to Seoul (Davy Chou)
RRR (S.S. Rajamouli)
Saint Omer (Alice Diop)

There are five other categories, and Mel Brooks is nominated for “Best Original Song,” “At the Automat,” The Automat. Here’s the song:

As usual, I’ve seen almost none of the nominated movies or performances. Of all the Best Picture nominees, I’ve seen only “The Fabelmans”, and I thought it was so-so. And where is “Tár”? But Steven’s nominations are not to be sniffed at, for he’s introduced me to many good movies I wouldn’t have seen otherwise (“Tokyo Story” is one).

Of the other movies mentioned for performances, I have seen “Tár”, “The Banshees of Inisherin,”  “Till” (overlooked for Best Film) and “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which I thought was a stinkeroo and couldn’t finish watching. (I did love “Tár and “The Banshees of Inisherin”.) I want to watch “EO” badly, as it’s been on many best-movie lists, but I haven’t had time.

If you’ve seen any of the nominated films, or want to weigh in on the nominations, please do so below.  And, of course, come back on April 1 to see the winners, which according to Steven represent the genuine best in cinema.

24 thoughts on “The 2023 Golden Steve Award nominations

  1. I agree that Cate Winslet deserves nomination as best actress for her performance in Tár, but I’m with Steve in not putting the film in the best picture category. Overall, I found it to be too much of a one woman performance, one that didn’t do very well in holding my attention. Since that is the only film on the list I’ve seen, I can’t comment further.

    1. Cate BLANCHETT! Don’t mix your Kate Winslet with your Cate Blanchetts! I have to say that the film did hold my attention, and a one-person performance is the case in many great films (like Ikiru, one of my two favorite foreign films).

      1. Ms. Winslet was particularly fetching as Ophelia in Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 film adaptation of Hamlet (which I recently had an opportunity to watch again). None was so fair, however, as Julie Christie as Gertrude, looking every bit as radiant as she had three decades earlier as Lara in Zhivago.

        Be aware that you can see Mr. Branagh’s film for free on YouTube here. But beware that it comes in at a running time just north of four hours, containing as it does all the bits and pieces from the various Quarto and Folio versions, including the entire Fortinbras subplot.

        1. I remember seeing that Branagh Hamlet when it first came out and we were stuck in the front row🙈 All that was left. It was excellent but my neck still aches. I tend to gravitate toward the back row.

          I agree with Jerry that the Spielberg was “meh”. Loved Banshees and Living (Bill Nighy and Tom Burke both excellent), and looking forward to seeing Tár- seems it might be on Prime or Netflix or Apple, for a price.

      2. As a performance piece, Tar is transcendent, but a few missteps on the screenplay level take it out of best picture contention. In the Juilliard master class scene, Blanchett’s character makes resonant and insightful points, but her young antagonist is painted as a shrill caricature of woke obtuseness, a personality type extreme enough in reality that no exaggeration was needed. The student’s beef with Bach is that he had too many children, a ludicrous complaint that no ideologue, no matter how fanatical, would make; its preposterousness renders him a strawman opponent and drains all credibility from the scene. (It would’ve been enough to have him take issue with the oversaturation of dead white men in the canon, or hold Bach to contemporary standards of purity, and have Blanchett counter him on that level.) Also, the sequence where she returns to her childhood home on Long Island is grievously shot like a horror movie, with her brother, a working-class stiff out of a bad Odets play, scolding her for chasing success. The takeaway is that facing one’s blue-collar roots is the ultimate indignity, and leaving the hermetic world of high culture is the worst fate that can be visited on a person of substance.

        What elevates The Fabelmans for me is how it puts the lie to the critique that’s dogged Spielberg his entire career: that he’s a reductionist, seeking to bring order to life’s chaos through art. Here we see that making movies neither vitiates anti-Semitism nor repairs broken homes, but merely provides an outlet for the pain they cause. Putting his traumas in narrative terms may bring him (and his audiences) a measure of solace, but at the end of the day, he still bears the scars of adolescence, evidenced by the fact that he’s still reckoning with them in his eighth decade.

  2. I think I had only heard of the “The Fabelmans.” I had to look the others up. IMDB lists “Benediction” as having come out in 2021. Does that count? A lot of movies and TV just don’t interest me. After a while another movie about finding oneself just doesn’t seem to offer anything new. The Sassoon story looks interesting; I might watch that the next time I travel.

  3. I am a complete philistine when it comes to movies, but I will eagerly look for the recommendations that I don’t recognize as past Steve awards have been valuable.

    I had been trying to watch Tokyo Story, but had to suspend it since the only copy I can conveniently find is on HBO, and unfortunately the audio track on that is way out of sync. It was intolerable.

    There are the more mainstream movies that I thought were good (but are clearly not Golden Steve-worthy): Pinocchio, Glass Onion, You People, and Bros.

  4. Everyone should check out The Automat. It’s an awesome movie (a documentary!) with a surprising cast of characters. Director Lisa Hurwitz is an incredible producer—and is so young that she doesn’t even have an entry on Wikipedia! I had the pleasure of attending a Zoom conversation with her (and about 30 other folks online). She was captivating and full of energy. A breath of fresh air. How she was able to get those luminaries to be part of the film is a testimony to her persistence and her charm.

    Oh, and Mel Brooks’s song, written for the movie, is terrific. Vaudeville come alive.

  5. I can’t imagine that Cate Blanchett will be denied a best actress Oscar for her turn as Tár. That performance — along with her earlier best-actress win as the Blanche DuBois-esque title character in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine and her best supporting Oscar for her performance as Katherine Hepburn in Mr. Scorsese’s The Aviator — puts her in the rarefied air of the Streep-o-sphere.

    1. She was also an absolutely fascinating and driven villain in Hannah. It’s no longer on Hulu. Did you ever watch it?

  6. Never heard of The Outfit, but I’ll watch Mark Rylance in anything. I see it’s on Prime in Canukistan,

    1. I forgot to mention how happy I was to see mention of his performance on this list! The movie isn’t great; just a bog-standard thriller/mystery, although definitely with some things you don’t see coming. I would definitely recommend it, as it’s fun enough and Rylance is phenomenal.

    2. Actors must hate working with Rylance in a film; he steals the show even when he isnt speaking. He is in a category by himself that no one will ever approach. No one.

      1. If you ever get a chance to see him act on stage, take it. His turn in Jerusalem is the best live performance I’ve ever seen.

  7. I’ve been shamefully slow about catching up with current movies, but I’ve heard about all of Steven’s best picture nominees. I overheard Leonard Maltin praising Saint Omer at an event in LA last November. And I will defiitely try to catch up with Benediction, because Terence Davies is one of Britain’s greatest living directors.

  8. I’ve long stopped caring about the silly Oscars, but it sure would be nice to see Kerry Condon win in her category. Kind of like how happy I was for Olivia Coleman when she won for The Favourite, which also allowed her to give the best Oscars speech in ages!

    “…my nephew Steven, a movie buff and critic who proclaims himself a far better judge of cinema than is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences…”

    To be fair to Steven, this does not smack of arrogance since, to be fair to the vaunted and anointed Academy, they are a collection of hobnobbers driven by a mix of idiocy and politics with the taste of a sack of wet gravel.

    Also, while I wouldn’t be surprised to see Blanchett win, I expect Michelle Yeoh to take it at the awards show that’s broadcast on television, and for which the awardees are decided upon by a collection of dullards and hobnobbers using a mix of pretension and politics and the taste of a wet sack of gravel.

  9. Imagine if Tár’s setup were: Tár is a man, married to a woman, and effecting the cruelty and sick power violence perpetrated on a string of young women, as in the film.

    It takes little imagination to visualize the fury of outcry. That the character gets destroyed would not save the narrative. No one would be lauding the performance of the male actor.

  10. The list gives me a couple of films to seek out.
    Films that I enjoyed but do not get enough mention are-
    Three Thousand Years of Longing and
    The Wonder

    I really enjoyed All Quiet on the Western Front, mostly because it was visually captivating and technically close to accurate. I still do not understand why they changed the time frame of the story to the late part of the war, but had the main characters continue to act like it was 1914.

    Babylon was a real spectacle, and sort of turned into a trilogy with Once upon a time in Hollywood and La La Land.
    For people who are really into early film, they added a bunch of Easter eggs, such as having the female lead wear an outfit that Bessie Love was photographed in.
    The issue I have with the film is that it seems to take place in an alternate universe where silent movies were filmed with orchestral accompaniment on set, but shown in the theaters in dead silence.

  11. “The Banshees of Inisherin” had too much “movie logic” to be satisfying. The story simply did not hold together.

    1. It really wasn’t about the smaller story between the two men being believable. Even the title, in mentioning “banshees,” alludes to something that doesn’t actually exist, but is often used as a metaphor. The movie itself is meant much more as an allegory than as a story about the breakdown of a friendship between two men. I don’t think it’s intended to be believable, just as many allegories aren’t meant to be and often intentionally are not.

  12. I’ll have to disagree with our illustrious host on Everything Everywhere All at Once, which I’ve seen twice now (once in the theatre and once on Amazon Prime) and appreciated even more the second time (you pick up details that don’t become important until later in the film). I hope that Michelle Yeoh wins Best Actress for this one.

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