Amman’s Oscar Sundays to screen award-nominated cinematic gems

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The Academy of Film Sciences and Arts has announced its nominations for the 95th Academy Awards, with the winners set to be revealed on March 12.
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This year, 10 films compete for Best Picture, while global interest is growing in the Best International Film Award category, including five nominations for 2023.

Local audiences will be able to view four selected films from the nominations list at the Oscar Sundays event in Amman, organized by the Royal Film Commission, which kicks off today at Rainbow Theater in Jabal Amman.

“Triangle of Sadness” by Ruben Östlund
Screening: February 19
Nominations: Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture

After The Square (2017), which tackled the contemporary art milieu, Ruben Östlund directs his lens toward the material overflow of the great bourgeois. “Triangle of Sadness” is divided into three acts, all quite distinct. The first takes us inside the dynamics of a couple of young models: Carl and Yaya. An argument over money and feminism makes us feel the surface tension that connects these two.

In the second act, we follow the couple on a luxurious cruise, offered in return for the photographs that the beautiful Yaya must post as an influencer. With controversies over yachts and the watering of golf courses, this act sounds the alarm on the role played by the exploiting class in the destruction of life, and the social distribution of the effects of global warming, fueling the sticky chasm of social inequalities.

In the third act, Östlund proposes to anchor the carnival of social roles within contemporary societal issues. Following a shipwreck, the cruise’s masters become slaves, and the slaves the masters. And in addition to the shift in the class relationship, the survivors witness the establishment of a matriarchy.

Concerted, the staging deliberately amplifies the grotesque of certain situations by resorting to unusual — even outrageous — camera angles. Hence, the title stems from the idea that the spectacle of human nature is distressing, no matter the angle from which it is considered. So better laugh it off.

“EO” by Jerzy SkolimowskiScreening: February 26
Nominations: Best International Feature

A dreamlike road movie, a visual poem, and an indictment against animal abuse, Skolimowski 's film is as disturbing in its subject as it is audacious in its form.

The donkey Eo is separated from his mistress following the closure of the circus where they had their act. Transported to a stud farm, surrounded by racehorses, Eo gets tired of waiting for his beauty to return, and takes to his heels. We then follow his odyssey through Poland and beyond, as spectators to his encounters with more- or less-well-meaning humans.

Faced with the world of men, it is most often misunderstanding that predominates for Eo. An unintelligibility contaminates even the viewer. Examples come in a nocturnal hunt with mysterious laser beams or even in a cleaning scene which remains undefined as either a mother-son shouting match or a quarrel between lovers. In the end, the donkey, an offbeat figure, has nothing to do with the verbiage of these two and continues on his way.

In fact, it is the pitfall of language — of communication — that the film points out: a trucker and a migrant who do not understand each other, an indebted priest confessing to the donkey who cannot comprehend his words.

“Living” by Oliver HermanusScreening: March 5
Nominations: Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay

At 73, the masterful British actor Bill Nighy delivers in “Living” the best performance of his career, nominated for the Golden Globes for his portrayal of Mr Williams, a public works official in London condemned by a cancer giving him only six months to live. But how do you learn to live at the end of a life?

After backing down from a suicide attempt, Mr Williams decides to carry out the restoration of a children's play area. The film, an adaptation of the 1952 Japanese film Ikiru directed by Akira Kurosawa, overwhelms us both with its delicate interpretation and the quality of its staging.

Nighy's performance is such a marvel of quiet strength and internalized complexity that, while viewers never doubt how Mr Williams will struggle to live up to his tragic news (a pub crawl, a flighty relationship, a decision to step in and help), events always seem spontaneous rather than wired.

Lit by powerfully aesthetic slow-motion and sharply detailed scenes about the social constraints that suffocate us, Oliver Hermanus' film reveals an emotional depth reminiscent of the moral intensity in James Ivory's “Remains of the Day”. For viewers, the effect is to make one simply want to live.

“The Quiet Girl” by Colm BairéadScreening: March 19
Nominations: Best International Feature

It is Ireland, 1981. Silent and introverted, Cáit is a nine-year-old girl who is suppressed and neglected by her family. In school, where she struggles with reading, she learns not to be noticed, almost disappearing from the eyes of those around her. As summer vacation rolls around, Cáit is sent to live with distant relatives on their farm for the summer. Entrusted without explanation to these fifty-something strangers, she finally begins to benefit from the attention that every child needs to grow up serenely: company, benevolence, care, clean clothes, regular meals, and hot baths.

While the wife, Eibhlín, is warm and gentle, her husband, Seán, initially keeps his distance from Cáit, who does the same. Over time, the distance gradually lessens and the two begin to weave a bond as Cáit discovers more and more of life on the farm and takes part in it with curiosity and desire.

Behind the minimalism of “The Quiet Girl”, which prefers to suggest rather than say, the beautiful restraint shown by Irish filmmaker Colm Bairéad results in a tender adaptation of the novel “Foster” by Claire Keegan.

As close as possible to its young protagonist, who is embodied with grace by Catherine Clinch, Bairéad's camera incorporates here and there how the life of this child is transformed far from neglectful parents, when distant cousins show her a kindness and affection that she previously lacked.

The simplicity of The Quiet Girl is ultimately what gives it such emotional power. The feature film captivates with its delicacy and fragility to convey the simple idea that a child needs love and devotion to grow and flourish.

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