2 Film Critics Goes to the Oscars: Our Picks for Best Picture

It’s Oscar season, and 2 Film Critics (Five Cent Cine) weighs in on the Best Picture nominees, all 10 of them. For us, 2023 was a rich year, with 4 films earning our maximum 4 stars, and one 3.5. For the other 5 the Academy warranted could be considered among the best, we gave them only 3.

Of our top films, we defy most of the voters so far, and would give the Oscar to “Barbie”  – for its inventiveness, cleverness, humor, and serious themes, and besides all that, for being just plain fun. Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach—you have our votes and our hearts.


“Oppenheimer” is magnificent, a tour de force from Christopher Nolan (who should have taken home the 2011 Best Picture Oscar for “Inception”). Nolan employs his often-difficult-to-follow cross-cut time sequences, in this case 2 “hearings” challenging 2 of the major players, and he lets Lewis Strauss (a nearly unrecognizable Robert Downey, Jr., above) almost imperceptibly become the bad guy, lending the film an extra layer of intrigue.

The Zone of Interest

“The Zone of Interest” was mesmerizing for us, even as we at first struggled to understand what was going on. It’s the one review of our more than 250 that we’ve begged people not to read before they see it. Its subtlety is its strength, with a marvelous performance by Sandra Hüller, who can do “understated” better than most. It is the only film nominated both for Best Picture and Best International Feature (England).

Poor Things

The fourth film to receive 4 stars from us was “Poor Things,” which had one of us baffled for its first 45 minutes. There may be a theme here: 3 of the films which earned 4 stars from 2 Film Critics had us puzzled at least part way through. We seem to like being challenged.

Past Lives

The only film to rest between our 3 and 4 stars was “Past Lives,” a Korean entry which, oddly, did not make it into the 5 Best International Features. It’s a small, quiet film that nonetheless had deep resonance for us, a much more interesting comment on couple relationships than, say, the bombastic “Maestro.”


“Maestro” is one of 5 films that disappointed us in some major way. The others were “American Fiction,” “The Holdovers,” “Anatomy of a Fall,” and “Killers of the Flower Moon.” The first three are solidly simply okay. “Anatomy of a Fall” is a fascinating take on truth, and whether one can know it. From our perspective, too much time was spent on courtroom drama, and it just wasn’t that dramatic, a fine performance from Sandra Hüller (again) notwithstanding.

Killers of the Flower Moon

We were perhaps too hard on Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which disappointed us politically in telling the story of the cold-blooded killing of Osage Indians from the perspective of a confused, weak white guy. It is still a sumptuous Scorsese work and did not seem too long even though it clocked in more than 3 hours. Leonard DiCaprio’s excellent performance as the gullible and naïve Ernest should have earned him a Best Actor nomination.

In the end, a very good year for cinema, finally. It’s the theaters that are in trouble.

American Fiction

The Holdovers

Anatomy of a Fall

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