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Deadline’s Reviews Of All The Oscar Best Picture Nominees

The nominations for the 96th Oscars revealed Tuesday included a diverse mix of Best Picture contenders, from box office blockbusters and festival favorites to sweeping streamer epics and indie darlings.

Deadline reviewed all 10 of the nominees, beginning with Past Lives, when it captured all the Sundance buzz in January; followed by Killers of the Flower Moon, eventual Palme d’Or winner Anatomy of a Fall and The Zone of Interest in May at Cannes; tracking the Barbenheimer duo of Barbie and Oppenheimer dominating the summer box office; and seeing Poor Things, Maestro, The Holdovers and American Fiction during the fall festival whoosh of Venice, Telluride and Toronto.

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Click on the titles to read the Deadline critics’ full reviews of the films that will be vying for the marquee statuette in March.

RELATED: All The Best Picture Oscar Winners – Photo Gallery

AMERICAN FICTION

‘American Fiction’
‘American Fiction’

Distributor: Orion Pictures/Amazon MGM Studios
Producers: Ben LeClair, Nikos Karamigios, Cord Jefferson and Jermaine Johnson
Director-screenwriter: Cord Jefferson
Cast: Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, John Ortiz, Erika Alexander, Leslie Uggams, Adam Brody, Keith David, Issa Rae, Sterling K. Brown
Deadline’s takeaway: Perhaps the most impactful message American Fiction delivers is about personal agency in a world that often seeks to define the stories of others. The media’s myopic view of Black lives might never shift, but individuals have the power to set their own narratives and boundaries. This film challenges viewers to reflect, question and possibly reevaluate their perceptions on Blackness. – VC

Read the review here.

ANATOMY OF A FALL

Sandra Hüller in Anatomy of a Fall movie
‘Anatomy of a Fall’

Distributor: Neon
Producers: Marie-Ange Luciani and David Thion
Director: Justine Triet
Screenwriters: Justine Triet and Arthur Harari
Cast: Sandra Hüller, Swann Arlaud, Milo Machado Graner, Samuel Theis
Deadline’s takeaway: Justine Triet’s film is a ferociously intelligent and deceptively playful drama that uses genre as a Trojan horse through which to tell the story of a normal family’s sudden implosion. At its heart is Sandra Hüller’s performance, a haunting and emotional tour de force that stays long in the mind and puts her right up there in the top tier of European talent. – DW

Read the review here.

BARBIE

‘Barbie’
‘Barbie’

Studio: Warner Bros
Producers: David Heyman, Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerley and Robbie Brenner
Director: Greta Gerwig
Screenwriters: Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach
Cast: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Michael Cera, Issa Rae, Kate McKinnon
Deadline’s takeaway: Barbie is a film that challenges the viewer to reconsider their understanding of societal norms and expectations. While it may be centered on plastic doll, it is very much a film about the human condition — our strengths and our flaws. Gerwig’s directing is an earnest exploration of identity, societal structures and the courage to embrace change. – VC

Read the review here.

THE HOLDOVERS

‘The Holdovers’
‘The Holdovers’

Distributor: Focus Features
Producer: Mark Johnson
Director: Alexander Payne
Screenwriter: David Hemsworth
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Dominic Sessa, Carrie Preston, Tate Donovan, Gillian Vigman, Andrew Garman, Naheem Garcia
Deadline’s takeaway: Alexander Payne has made some contemporary classics, no doubt, but the warm humanity of a trio of people left alone at Christmas in a snowy boarding school ranks right up there with his very best. It is funny, sad, witty and poignant, filled with snark and heart and great acting, and offers something truly new for the genre. – PH

Read the review here.

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

Killers Of The Flower Moon Gotham Awards tribute
‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

Distributor: Apple Original Films
Producers: Dan Friedkin, Bradley Thomas, Martin Scorsese and Daniel Lupi
Director: Martin Scorsese
Screenwriters: Martin Scorsese and Eric Roth
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons, Tantoo Cardinal, Cara Jade Myers, JaNae Collins, Jillian Dion, John Lithgow, Brendan Fraser, William Belleau, Louis Cancelmi, Tatanka Means, Michael Abbott Jr., Pat Healy, Scott Shepherd, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson
Deadline’s takeaway: Killers of the Flower Moon is a landmark motion picture achievement, if only for the care and handling of how it tells the story of the Osage Nation. Martin Scorsese’s epic leaves it all on the screen taking us through a very dark part of U.S. history and, if it does nothing else, reminds of just how horrible we can be to each other. – PH

Read the review here.

MAESTRO

Maestro
‘Maestro’

Distributor: Netflix
Producer: Bradley Cooper, Steven Spielberg, Fred Berner, Amy Durning and Kristie Macosko Krieger
Director: Bradley Cooper
Screenwriters: Bradley Cooper and Josh Singer
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Carey Mulligan, Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke, Sarah Silverman, Josh Hamilton, Sam Nivola
Deadline’s takeaway: Maestro, defiantly not a traditional biopic, really belongs to both Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan and they prove to be just the right actors to take it on. It would be worth the price of admission just for the music, but the sharp dramatic focus on the iconic life behind all of it makes it memorable, and a film that meets its subject head on. – PH

Read the review here.

OPPENHEIMER

‘Oppenheimer’
‘Oppenheimer’

Studio: Universal
Producers: Emma Thomas, Charles Roven and Christopher Nolan
Director-screenwriter: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr. , Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Kenneth Branagh, Benny Safdie, David Dastmalchian, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek, Gary Oldman, Tom Conti, Aldrn Ehrenrich, Jefferson Hall, Jason Clarke, James D’Arcy, Tony Goldwyn, David Krumholtz, Matthew Modine, Dylan Arnold, Gustav Skarsgard
Deadline’s takeaway: Hopefully people will see it in a theater, a place of worship for people like Nolan and me. It was made on the biggest film stock possible and meant for the largest screens, but it isn’t mere summertime escapist entertainment like most of the movies in large formats these days. At the very least, it is a necessary reminder that we are still sitting on the powder keg Oppenheimer and his team created, and we still need to heed his warnings, maybe now more than ever. – PH

Read the review here.

PAST LIVES

Greta Lee and Teo Yoo in 'Past Lives'
‘Past Lives’

Distributor: A24
Producers: David Hinojosa, Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler
Director-screenwriter: Celine Song
Cast: Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, John Magaro
Deadline’s takeaway: Playwright Celine Song has killed two birds with one stone, creating an elegant and unexpectedly mesmerizing character piece that speaks profoundly to the concept of love in the modern age while using an intelligent and ambitious, but still very relatable woman to do so. – DW

Read the review here.

POOR THINGS

‘Poor Things’
‘Poor Things’

Distributor: Searchlight Pictures
Producers: Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Screenwriter: Tony McNamara
Cast: Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef
Deadline’s takeaway: Poor Things is brought to vivid life by Stone’s energetic embrace of Bella’s persona, the universally excellent supporting performances, and Lanthimos’ wild determination to surprise us, whether by using four different lenses in a scene, painting the sky red or all that sex-positive talk out of the mouth of an ostensible babe. What a glorious paean to freedom it is. – SB

Read the review here.

THE ZONE OF INTEREST

'The Zone of Interest'
‘The Zone of Interest’

Distributor: A24
Producer: James Wilson
Director-screenwriter: Jonathan Glazer
Cast: Christian Friedel, Sandra Hüller
Deadline’s takeaway: Yes, Holocaust movies are virtually a genre of their own, but I can safely say I have never seen one, sans any visuals of violence and suffering, that still manages to be just as harrowing and frightening, maybe even more. The Zone of Interest takes its place among the great films made on the Holocaust and will probably haunt you long after seeing it. – PH

Read the review here.

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