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Directorial debut from Celine Song, nominated in several categories, continues a trend of widening cultural scope at the Academy Awards The trophy given at the U.S. Academy Awards is known for being quite heavy. It weighs 8.5 pounds and stands 13.5 inches tall. Impressively, thanks to a sophisticated technique originally developed by NASA for space applications, the 24K gold coating doesn’t wear off. These weighty, shiny trophies are synonymous with the prestige of the Oscars, and today the Academy remains the premier movie awards ceremony in the eyes of many worldwide. The Oscar Trophy/ Source: Official site of the Academy The 96th Academy Awards, which will take place on March 10 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, are expected to be more competitive than ever before. Works by world-renowned figures like Christopher Nolan and Martin Scorsese are amongst the nominees, with newcomer Celine Song also vying for awards with her debut film <Past Lives>. Movies that have already won top awards at major international film festivals, such as <Poor Things> and <Anatomy of a Fall>, are also eyeing wins. Cinematic Legends Go Head to Head Christopher Nolan (top) and Martin Scorsese (bottom) are among big names up for the Best Director award at this year’s Oscars. / Source: Le Monde, INDIEWIRE Among the many industry titans competing for awards this year, Christoper Nolan and Martin Scorsese have been drawing particular attention. Both are directors whose relationship with the Oscars can sometimes seem out of step with their widespread acclaim, with Nolan never having won Best Director and Scorsese having won it only once. This year, however, could be different. Nominated in 13 categories including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor, Nolan’s latest film, <Oppenheimer>, tells the story of real-life physicist Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy), following his work leading the Manhattan Project in developing the atomic bomb and the concurrent inner turmoil in his personal life. Scorsese, who has left an indelible mark on film history with films such as <Gangs of New York>, <Hugo>, <The Wolf of Wall Street> and <The Irishman>, is back with <Killers of the Flower Moon>, a film that arguably represents the pinnacle of his cinematic achievements. The movie has been nominated in 10 categories at the 2024 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. Set in 1920s Oklahoma, <Killers of the Flower Moon> delves into the brutal history of white settlers’ exploitation of the Native American Osage tribe, and endeavors to deliver a profound and somber requiem for the Osage who were murdered in the process. <Past Lives>: Debut Effort Heads Straight to the Oscars Another Best Picture nominee, <Past Lives>, has ridden a global wave of success straight to the heart of the Oscars. Traditionally dominated by Western narratives, the Academy Awards have recently been increasing their inclusion of stories from a more diverse range of backgrounds. A significant milestone for this came in 2020, when <Parasite> won in four categories, including Best Picture, followed by Youn Yuh-jung winning Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Lee Isaac Chung’s <Minari> in 2021. Now, <Past Lives>, by Korean-Canadian director Celine Song, continues to challenge once-dominant Oscar trends. With the popularity of <Past Lives> following its release, Song was drawing acclaim before the Oscar nominations were announced, but now the film has been nominated for Best Picture and Best Screenplay. Behind the scenes, the film was co-produced by CJ ENM – which has been playing an important role in spreading Korean cinema around the world, including <Parasite> and Park Chan-wook’s <Decision to Leave> – and American production company A24. Vice Chairwoman of CJ ENM Miky Lee served as executive producer for the film. <Past Lives> tells the autobiographical story of Song, who is a Korean immigrant. However, compared to other Korean diaspora works, the film deals with much more universal emotions and uses the love between two people as its main subject. Director Celine Song / Source : HUFFPOST The film begins when Nora (Greta Lee), who spent her childhood in Korea, and her old friend Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) reunite in New York for the first time in 24 years. The film delicately unpacks the stirring of memories of childhood first loves and the subtle but poignant whirlwind of emotions felt when meeting again after a long time. A solid structure that connects beautiful visuals with both past and present comes together to create a highly effective harmony. At the same time, <Past Lives> exudes a fresh and unique charm that intricately captures distinct emotions that will resonate with Korean viewers. Song incorporates the idea of fate – a culturally potent concept in Korea – into the couple’s story, reminding us of the meaning of relationships with people who, although living in different realities and daily lives, cannot easily be forgotten or let go. The emotions and sentiments felt by immigrants are also naturally incorporated throughout the film. Through Nora in particular – who as a girl dreamed of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature – we can glimpse the meaning of the American dream and the life of immigrants. Acclaim for <Past Lives> from renowned filmmakers is ongoing. Nolan named the film as his favorite recent movie in an interview with TIME and praised it as “subtle in a beautiful sort of way.” Beloved director Guillermo del Toro, known for works such as <The Shape of Water> and <Nightmare Alley>, praised the film as the “best feature debut in the past 20 years.” Variety described <Past Lives> as a “truly special feature debut, a treasure that is at once achingly autobiographical and disarmingly universal,” while the Hollywood Reporter described it as “an exceptional movie” filled with “interludes of soaring romance that will make you catch your breath.” Deadline, meanwhile, regarded the movie as “an elegant and unexpectedly mesmerizing character piece that speaks profoundly to the concept of love in the modern age.” Top International Film Festival Winners Rack Up Nominations Numerous films from major international film festivals are also vying for the Oscars this year. Director Yorgos Lanthimos, who received the Golden Lion at last year’s Venice International Film Festival for <Poor Things>, is now contending for 11 awards at the Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. Lanthimos’ unique imagination and characteristic directing style have been recognized in the past through works such as <Dogtooth>, <The Lobster> and <The Favourite>. <Anatomy of a Fall>, which won the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, is also a strong contender. The film, directed by French filmmaker Justine Triet, has been nominated in five categories at the Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress. The film captures the distortion of truth and the deepening of confirmation bias as the hidden faults of a couple are starkly laid bare during court proceedings. Other films by world-famous directors have also been nominated. <May December>, starring Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore and directed by Todd Haynes, is garnering significant attention. Alexander Payne’s <The Holdovers>, a story about teachers and students at the Barton Academy in the 1970s who reluctantly become comrades, is also receiving positive reviews for its subtle resonance. <Maestro>, directed by and starring Bradley Cooper of <A Star is Born> fame, is also considered a strong contender.
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