By Lynn Venhaus

I admit it. I was skeptical of the whole ‘Barbenheimer” match-up that same week in July. But you know what? It worked — the two biggest movies of the year, and two of the most critically acclaimed. They couldn’t have been more different, and they dominated the film conversation.
They’re my one-two punch. Eight of my Top Ten received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture.
I was not on the bandwagon for “Poor Things,” or “Killers of the Flower Moon” (but yet I acknowledge the technical prowess, and Lily Gladstone was robbed).
As part of the team at Webster-Kirkwood Times, we publish our Top Ten in alphabetical order, then on KTRS Radio, I only did my Top Ten, but here, I get to give as many films and people I want to a trophy, a shout-out. It’s my list, so without further ado, here’s my favorites. (And I really did see about 150 films.)

1. Oppenheimer

Director Christopher Nolan’s erudite character study on American theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer is a stunning achievement in sight, sound, story, and scope. A big-brained biopic, meticulously crafted like a big-stakes psychological thriller, is bold cinematic grandeur, featuring the year’s best ensemble, cinematography, editing, sound, and tremendous performance by Cillian Murphy in the titular role. He’s nearly on screen the entire time.

2. Barbie

Director and co-writer Greta Gerwig crafted an irresistible female-fantastic self-aware fantasy-comedy that brims with great gags, first-rate actors (Kenergy!), and vibrant visuals. Gerwig and co-writer Noah Baumbach’s toy story takes a closer look at a fashion doll icon in a clever and inventive way, and says so much about us through a splendid cast. Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling anchor one of the year’s best ensembles: America Ferrera , Kate McKinnon and Michael Cera add flavor, and the bevy of cameos evoke big grins.

3. The Holdovers

Tapping into the anger and loneliness of people who find themselves alone at a New England boarding school during Christmas 1970, director Alexander Payne coaxes terrific performances from Paul Giamatti as a misanthrope teacher, Da’Vine Joy Randolph as a grieving cook, and newcomer Dominic Sessa as a student abandoned by his mother and new husband. Screenwriter David Hemingson’s comedy-drama resonates in a rich and deeply satisfying way. 

4. Past Lives

A trio of pitch-perfect performances mark Celine Song’s directorial debut on how people we love shape our lives, and what we learn and still carry with us. Greta Lee, Teo Yoo and John Magaro are adults at a crossroads, and express yearning, but from distinctive viewpoints. Song’s script brings up relatable issues to ponder, especially “In-Yun,” the ties of fate that connect two people across lifetimes.

5. Anatomy of a Fall

Justine Triet’s Hitchcockian examination of a mysterious death and a troubled marriage is a riveting crime case, courtroom thriller and family drama that shifts lenses and perspectives for nearly 2 hours and 31 minutes. Set in the French Alps, Sandra Huller is riveting as the accused wife, whom you are not always sympathetic with, and Milo Machado-Graner is sensational as her 11-year old son.

6. The Zone of Interest

Constructed in such a way as to be more disturbing about what you don’t see and can only imagine based on historical accuracy. Director Jonathan Glazer focuses on the mundane daily life of Nazi mastermind Rudolph Hoess (Christian Freidel) and his family for an unsettling look at the past and a chilling cautionary tale for today. The Hoesses live next door to Auschwitz in their dream home while he is the head commander of the concentration camp. How the Germans normalized the atrocities is haunting.

7. Maestro

Career-best performances from Bradley Cooper as America’s first superstar conductor Leonard Bernstein and Carey Mulligan as his wife, actress Felicia Montealegre, in an intricate portrait of life, art and love. They throw themselves into these roles with a heartfelt and powerful intensity. It’s an uncommon but charismatic exploration, and this passion project has stunning camera work, costumes, production design, sound, hair/makeup and one of the year’s finest scenes: Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in the Ely Cathedral. 

8. American Fiction

A scathing social satire about the current cultural obsession about reducing people to stereotypes is manifested in a remarkable directorial debut by Cord Jefferson. Jeffrey Wright is outstanding as a frustrated novelist-professor who uses offensive tropes in a book written with a pen name and that not only gives him the praise that had eluded him but also enlarges the hypocrisy involved. The sharp jabs against the publishing world and Hollywood entertainment that perpetuates tired cliches delivers some knockout punches, but there is a universal family dynamic as a major part of the journey too that emotionally connects.

9. Air

An exceptional all-star ensemble and Alex Convery’s savvy script with a keen sense of time and place makes this a fascinating underdog story. The tightly-constructed film, based on the game-changing story of Nike landing Michael Jordan, gives the real people their due for their efforts in a sturdy crowd-pleaser deftly helmed by Ben Affleck.

10. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

In her adaptation of the iconic young adult novel, writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig doesn’t hit a false note. With unforced wit and oodles of charm, this empathetic coming-of-age story resonates with every little detail. Abby Ryder Fortson delivers the year’s best juvenile performance.

The Rest of the Best of 2023:
All of Us Strangers
American Symphony
Boston Strangler
The Color Purple
Dream Scenario
Dumb Money
Godzilla Minus One
Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant
The Iron Claw
John Wick Chapter 4
The Last Repair Shop
May December
A Million Miles Away
Perfect Days
Society of the Snow
Still: A Michael J Fox Movie
The Teachers’ Lounge

Best Performances by an Actor

  1. Cillian Murphy “Oppenheimer”
  2. Bradley Cooper “Maestro”
  3. Paul Giamatti “The Holdovers”
  4. Jeffrey Wright “American Fiction”
  5. Colman Domingo “Rustin”
  6. Andrew Scott “All of Us Strangers”
  7. Teo Yoo “Past Lives”
  8. Koji Yakusho “Perfect Days”
  9. Paul Dano “Dumb Money”
  10. Nicolas Cage “Dream Scenario”

(Matt Damon “Air,” Christian Friedel “The Zone of Interest,” Jamie Foxx “The Burial,” Gael Garcia-Bernal in “Cassandro,” and Zac Efron “The Iron Claw” honorable mention)

Best Performances by an Actress

  1. Lily Gladstone – “Killers of the Flower Moon”
  2. Carey Mulligan – “Maestro”
  3. Margot Robbie – “Barbie”
  4. Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor – “Origin”
  5. Sandra Huller – “Anatomy of a Fall”
  6. Greta Lee – “Past Lives”
  7. Natalie Portman – “May December”
  8. Annette Bening – “Nyad”
  9. Leonie Benesch “The Teachers’ Lounge”
  10. Teyana Taylor “A Thousand and One”

(Alma Poysti “Fallen Leaves,” Cailee Spaeny “Priscilla,” Michelle Williams “Showing Up,” Laurie Metcalf “Somewhere in Queens” honorable mention)


  1. Ryan Gosling “Barbie”
  2. Robert Downey Jr. “Oppenheimer”
  3. Charles Melton “May December”
  4. Robert DeNiro “Killers of the Flower Moon”
  5. Dominic Sessa “The Holdovers”
  6. Glenn Howerton “BlackBerry”
  7. Paul Mescal “All of Us Strangers”
  8. Jamie Bell “All of Us Strangers”
  9. Dar Salim “Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant”
  10. John Magaro “Past Lives”

(Sterling K. Brown “American Fiction,” Eddie Marsan “Fair Play,” Jon Bernthal “Origin,” Hugh Grant “Wonka,” Matt Damon “Oppenheimer,” Jacob Elordi “Saltburn” and Sebastian Stan “Dumb Money” honorable mention)


  1. Da’Vine Joy Randolph “The Holdovers”
  2. Danielle Brooks “The Color Purple”
  3. Jodie Foster “Nyad”
  4. Viola Davis “Air”
  5. Rachel McAdams “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret”
  6. Sandra Huller “The Zone of Interest”
  7. America Ferrara “Barbie”
  8. Emily Blunt “Oppenheimer”
  9. Julianne Moore “May December”
  10. Claire Foy “All of Us Strangers”

(Juliette Binoche “The Taste of Things,” Rosamund Pike “Saltburn,” Erika Alexander “American Fiction,” Cara Jade Myers “Killers of the Flower Moon” honorable mention)


  1. Christopher Nolan “Oppenheimer”
  2. Greta Gerwig “Barbie”
  3. Justine Triet “Anatomy of a Fall”
  4. Jonathan Glazer “The Zone of Interest”
  5. Chad Stahelski “John Wick Chapter 4”
  6. Cord Jefferson “American Fiction”
  7. Alexander Payne “The Holdovers”
  8. Celine Song “Past Lives”
  9. Andrew Haigh “All of Us Strangers”
  10. Takashi Yamazaki “Godzilla Minus One”

(J.A. Bayona “Society of the Snow,” Ben Affleck “Air,” Kelly Fremon Craig “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” Bradley Cooper “Maestro,” Sean Durkin “The Iron Claw” and Davis Guggenheim “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie”)


  1. Oppenheimer
  2. Barbie
  3. Air
  4. The Holdovers
  5. The Iron Claw
  6. The Color Purple
  7. Rustin
  8. All of Us Strangers
  9. Origin
  10. American Fiction


  1. Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach “Barbie”
  2. David Heminson “The Holdovers”
  3. Justine Triet and Arthur Harari “Anatomy of a Fall”
  4. Celine Song “Past Lives”
  5. Alex Convery “Air”
  6. Kristoffer Borgli “Dream Scenario”
  7. Nicole Holofcener “You Hurt My Feelings”
  8. Samy Burch, Alex Mechanik “May December”
  9. İlker Çatak, Johannes Duncker “The Teachers’ Lounge”
  10. Bettina Gilois, Hernán Jiménez, Alejandra Márquez Abella “A Million Miles Away”
  11. Ray Romano, Mark Stegemann “Somewhere in Queens”


  1. Christopher Nolan “Oppenheimer” (based on the book “American Prometheus” by Kai Bird, Martin J. Sherwin)
  2. Cord Jefferson “American Fiction” (based on the book “Erasure” by Percival Everett
  3. Andrew Haigh “All of Us Strangers” (based on the Taichi Yamada novel)
  4. Jonathan Glazer “The Zone of Interest” (based on the Martin Amis novel)
  5. Kelly Fremon Craig “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” (based on the book by Judy Blume)
  6. “Dumb Money” Rebecca Angelo, Lauren Schuker Blum (based on the book by Ben Mezrich)


1. Hoyte de Hoytema “Oppenheimer”
2. Rodrigo Prieto “Killers of the Flower Moon”
3. Matthew Libatique “Maestro”
4. Jonathan Ricquebourg “The Taste of Things”
5. Rodrigo Prieto “Barbie”
6. Erik Messerschmidt “The Killer”
7. Claude Mirando “Nyad”
8. Jamie D. Ramsay “All of Us Strangers”
9. Simon Beaufils “Anatomy of a Fall”
10. Dan Laustsen “John Wick Chapter 4”

(Pedro Luque “Society of the Snow.” Haris Zambarloukos “A Haunting in Venice,” Linus Sandgren “Saltburn” honorable mention)


  1. Oppenheimer, Jennifer Lame
  2. The Killer, Kirk Baxter
  3. Anatomy of a Fall, Haris Zambarloukos
  4. The Zone of Interest, Paul Watts
  5. John Wick: Chapter 4
  6. Still a Michael J. Fox Movie
  7. Barbie, Nick Houy
  8. American Fiction, Hilda Rasula
  9. The Iron Claw, Matthew Hannam
  10. The Holdovers, Kevin Tent
  11. John Wick Chapter 4, Nathan Orloff
  12. Missing, Austin Keeling, Arielle Zakowski
(L to R) Jake Ryan, Jason Schwartzman and Tom Hanks in director Wes Anderson’s ASTEROID CITY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Pop. 87 Productions/Focus Features


1.Asteroid City, Adam Stockhausen
2. Barbie, Sarah Greenwood
3. Wonka, Nathan Crowley
4. The Holdovers, Ryan Smith
5. Maestro, Kevin Thompson
6. Taste of Things, Toma Baqueni
8. Priscilla, Tamara Deverell
9. Oppenheimer, Ruth De Jong
10. Killers of the Flower Moon, Jack Fisk
(Suzie Davies “Saltburn,” John Paul Kelly “A Haunting in Venice,” Arthur Max “Napoleon,” François Audouy “Air,” Steve Saklad “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” and Shona Heath, James Price “Poor Things”)


1. Barbie
2. The Color Purple
3. Maestro
4. Killers of the Flower Moon
5. Priscilla
6. Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret”
7. Oppenheimer
8. Napoleon


1. Oppenheimer
2. The Boy and the Heron
3. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Daniel Pemberton
4. The Holdovers
5. American Symphony, Jon Batiste
6. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, John Williams
7. A Haunting in Venice


1. Barbie
2. Air
3. Maestro
4. The Holdovers
5. Flora and Son
6. Dumb Money
7. Wonka


  1. Oppenheimer
    2. Godzilla Minus One
    3. John Wick: Chapter 4
    4. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
    5. Society of the Snow
    6. Wonka
    7. Guardians of the Galaxy


1. John Wick Chapter 4
2. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
3. The Iron Claw
4. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny   


1.The Boy and the Heron
2. Nimona
3. The Peasants
4. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
5. Robot Dreams
6. Elemental
7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
8. Ernest and Celestine: A Trip to Gibberitia
9. They Shot the Piano Player
10. Leo


  1. Still A Michael J. Fox Movie
    2. American Symphony
    3. Beyond Utopia
    4. 20 Days in Mariupol
    5. It Ain’t Over
    6. The Lady Bird Diaries
    7. King Coal
    8. Stamped from the Beginning
    9. Aurora Sunrise
    10. Bad Press

    (The Eternal Memory, Little Richard: I Am Everything, Immediate Family, The Disappearance of Shere Hite, Chasing Chasing Amy, Sly)


1. Barbie
2. Dream Scenario
3. The Holdovers
4. Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret
5. They Cloned Tyrone
6. What’s Love Got to Do With It?
7. Dumb Money
8. You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah
9. Theater Camp
10,. Quiz Lady
10. Shotgun Wedding


  1. John Wick Chapter 4
    2. Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One
    3. Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant
    4. Godzilla Minus One
    5. The Killer
    6. The Equalizer Part 3
    7. Gran Turismo


1. The Zone of Interest
2. Anatomy of a Fall
3. The Teachers’ Lounge
4. Society of the Snow
5. Perfect Days
6. Afire
7. The Peasants
8. Godzilla Minus One
9. Fallen Leaves
10. The Taste of Things


1.America Ferrara’s monologue on the impossible standards set for women in “Barbie”
2. Bernstein Conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” in the Ely Cathedral in “Maestro”
3. Observers commenting on trio at the bar in “Past Lives”
4. Trinity test in “Oppenheimer”
5. Staircase fight in Paris in “John Wick Chapter 4”
6. Fight replay at the trial in “Anatomy of a Fall”
7. Tilda Swinton restaurant scene in “The Killer”
8. Joe talking to his son on the roof in “May December”
9. Finale in “The Zone of Interest”
10. Matt Damon predicts the future in “Air”


  1. The Last Repair Shop
  2. The ABC’s of Book Banning
  3. Deciding Vote
  4. The Barber of Little Rock 


  1. Dominic Sessa, “The Holdovers”
  2. Abby Ryder Fortson, “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret”
  3. Milo Machada Graner, “Anatomy of a Fall”
  4. Josiah Cross, “A Thousand and One”
  5. Aaron Kingsley Adetola, “A Thousand and One”
  6. Aven Courtney, “A Thousand and One”
  7. Arianna Greenblatt, “Barbie”
  8. Leo Stettnisch, “Teachers’ Lounge”
  9. Callah Lane, “Wonka”
  10. Oren Kinlan, “Flora and Son”

By Lynn Venhaus

A scathing social satire about the current cultural obsession that reduces people to stereotypes is manifested in “American Fiction,” which is a remarkable directorial debut by Cord Jefferson.

Monk (Jeffrey Wright) is a frustrated novelist who is fed up with people profiting from ‘black’ entertainment that relies on offensive tropes. So, to prove his point, he uses a pen name to write an outlandish ‘black’ book of his own, which propels him to the heart of hypocrisy and the madness he claims to disdain.

Jefferson, who has toiled on some tony television series – “Succession” and “Watchmen” included, has cleverly adapted Percival Everett’s 2001 book “Erasure,” which criticizes the narrow view of black-focused entertainment like Sapphire’s novel “Push,” which was adapted into the film “Precious,” as authentic.

His sharp jabs against the publishing world and Hollywood entertainment that perpetuates tired cliches delivers some knockout punches, but there is a universal family dynamic as a major part of the journey too that emotionally connects.

Jeffrey Wright gives one of his best performances as Thelonius “Monk” Ellison, angry and alienating, who decides to fight back – if you ‘can’t beat them, join them’ – and dumbs down his writing in a book “My Pafology,” as Stagg R Leigh, an ex-con who’s on the run.

That not only gives him the praise that had eluded him but also enlarges the hypocrisy involved. As he tells his publisher, Arthur, nicely played by ace character actor John Ortiz: “The dumber I behave, the richer I get.”

In puncturing the stereotypes through thoughtfully written characters that are part of Monk’s personal orbit, Jefferson gives us a generational story that everyone can relate to because they appear as real people just trying to figure out life.

The supporting cast is exceptionally deep – creating nuanced turns are Sterling K. Brown as Monk’s irresponsible brother Cliff who has now come out as queer, Tracee Ellis Ross as his stressed-out lawyer sister Lisa and Leslie Uggams as their mother Agnes, who is beginning to show signs of dementia.

Tracee Ellis Ross, Leslie Uggams

Lisa has been taking care of their mom, and Monk’s other siblings are harboring resentment about his lack of commitment to his family. Granted, he is in L.A., but now back in Massachusetts, where he’s staying at his childhood home, full of memories and triggers. This is a family of intellectuals whose lives are enriched through art and culture.

Erika Anderson creates another layer as a single woman lawyer romantically interested in Monk, but whose eyes are wide-open to his flaws.

Through his uneasy relationships with his family, we understand that Monk, often self-righteous and condescending, needs to change and could be ripe for a reckoning.

Issa Rae is buzzy author Sintara Golden who pushes all of Monk’s buttons with her critical darling but pandering book, “We’s Lives In Da Ghetto,” that the public has embraced for what they believe is black suffering,

Jefferson’s script is smartly written, but there is a lot to digest over the 2-hour runtime. Besides the blistering social commentary, the family story has multiple layers. This cast really delivers the film’s heart as these imperfect individuals go through changes, not forgetting the past relationships while forging new ones.

In a sweet subplot, the family housekeeper, Lorraine, beautifully played by Myra Lucretia Taylor, reunites with the beach town’s law enforcement officer Maynard (Raymond Anthony Thomas).

Laura Karpman’s jazz-inflected score delicately punctuates the exchanges and confrontations, and the film’s other elements are solid — cinematography by Cristina Dunlap, production design by Jonathan Guggenheim and editing by Hilda Rasula.

The film’s message is not unlike what Spike Lee attempted in 2000 with “Bamboozled,” only instead of television, this is set in academia and book publishing in today’s ‘influencer’ world.

The wrap-up isn’t as satisfying as it should be, but this material is clever and the performances so superbly rendered. “American Fiction” has enough thought-provoking material to keep us mulling over the body of work, and appreciate what it’s trying to say.

F_01952_R Sterling K. Brown stars as Cliff Ellison, Jeffrey Wright as Thelonious “Monk” Ellison and Erika Alexander as Coraline in writer/director Cord Jefferson’s AMERICAN FICTION An Orion Pictures Release Photo credit: Claire Folger © 2023 Orion Releasing LLC. All Rights Reserved.

“American Fiction” is a 2023 social satire written and directed by Cord Jefferson. It stars Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, Issa Rae, Sterling K. Brown, John Ortiz, Adam Brody, Leslie Uggams, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Raymond Anthony Thomas and Erika Anderson. It is Rated: R for language throughout, some drug use, sexual references, and brief violence. It opened in local theaters Jan. 5 after first debuting at the St. Louis International Film Festival in mid-November. Lynn’s Grade: A-

“Oppenheimer” leads with nominations 14, followed by “Killers of the Flower Moon” with 12, “Barbie” 11 and “The Holdovers” with 9

The year’s top film phenomenon “Barbenheimer” dominated the nominations announced Dec. 10 by the St. Louis Film Critics Association, with Christopher Nolan’s scientific biopic leading the way, earning 14 nods for best film, director, actor Cillian Murphy, supporting actor Robert Downey Jr., supporting actress Emily Blunt, ensemble, adapted screenplay, cinematography, editing, production design, costume design, music score, visual effects, and best scene.

Awards will be announced Dec. 17.

In addition to determining nominations in 24 categories, the regional critics’ group recognized two groups for special merits involving the industry’s labor strikes this year.

Special Merit: The Screen Actors Guild and Writer’s Guild of America for fighting for artists’ equity and protecting the future of filmmaking by striking against practices that minimize or eliminate protection and living wages for artists.

Special Merit: A24 for showing solidarity with the actors and writers by securing approval from SAG-AFTRA and WGA to continue filmmaking and publicity.

The epic western crime drama “Killers of the Flower Moon” received 12 nominations, including best film, director Martin Scorsese, actor Leonardo DiCaprio, actress Lily Gladstone, ensemble, adapted screenplay, cinematography, editing, production design, costume design, music score and scene.

Killers of the Flower Moon

Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster comedy “Barbie” about the Mattel doll’s existential crisis in BarbieLand, KenEnergy and toxic masculinity in the real world, earned 11 nods for film, director, actress Margot Robbie, supporting actor Ryan Gosling, ensemble, original screenplay, production design, costume design, music soundtrack, comedy and best scene.

Alexander Payne’s comedy-drama “The Holdovers” about a cranky teacher supervising students left on a prep school campus and the bonds formed during Christmas break in 1970 earned recognition for its three principal characters among its nine nominations for film, actor Paul Giamatti, supporting actress Da’Vine Joy Randolph, supporting actor Dominic Sessa, ensemble, original screenplay, editing, music soundtrack, and comedy.

“Maestro,” “May December” and “The Zone of Interest” each earned six nominations.

Todd Hayne’s discomforting drama “May December” tally included nods for its three principal actors Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore and Charles Melton, director, music score, and film.

Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore in “May December”

Jonathan Glazer’s chilling wartime drama set next to Auschwitz “The Zone of Interest,” a film produced in the United Kingdom, earned its accolades for film, international feature, adapted screenplay, cinematography, editing and music score.

Bradley Cooper’s biopic on Leonard Bernstein, “Maestro,” received nods for film, actor Bradley Cooper, cinematography, editing, music soundtrack, and scene.

“American Fiction” earned five nominations for film, actor Jeffrey Wright, adapted screenplay, comedy and supporting actor Sterling K. Brown, who happens to be a St. Louis native.

“Past Lives” and “The Killer” had four nominees each, with Celine Song’s semi-autobiographical American-made film nominated for film, director, original screenplay, and actress Greta Lee.

David Fincher’s “The Killer” was heralded for its technical skills, with nominations for editing, stunts, soundtrack, and best action movie.

John Wick Chapter 4

Other films with three nominations apiece: “Air,” “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” “Asteroid City,” “John Wick: Chapter 4,” “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,” “Poor Things,” and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.”

Founded in 2004, the St. Louis Film Critics Association is a nonprofit organization of professional film reviewers who regularly publish current and timely film criticism, support local productions and festivals, and enhance public education, awareness, and appreciation of films.

Vetted members are affiliated with qualifying media outlets in the St. Louis metropolitan region.

For the awards, eligible films are those that opened in the greater St. Louis area or had an online premiere during the 2023 calendar year – including those film that were given awards-qualifying runs in 2022 but were not available to all SLFCA members until 2023. Films slated for release in early 2024 are also eligible if a press screening, DVD screener, or screening link was provided to all SLFCA members.

For more information, visit the site:

Full List of Nominations:

The Zone of Interest


American Fiction
Anatomy of a Fall
The Holdovers
Killers of the Flower Moon
May December
Past Lives
The Zone of Interest


Greta Gerwig “Barbie”
Todd Haynes “May December”
Christopher Nolan “Oppenheimer”
Martin Scorsese “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Celine Song “Past Lives”

Jeffrey Wright in “American Fiction”


Bradley Cooper “Maestro”
Leonardo DiCaprio “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Paul Giamatti “The Holdovers”
Cillian Murphy “Oppenheimer”
Jeffrey Wright “American Fiction”

Teo Yoo, Greta Lee, John Magaro in “Past Lives”


Lily Gladstone “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Greta Lee “Past Lives”
Natalie Portman “May December”
Margot Robbie “Barbie”
Emma Stone “Poor Things”


Sterling K. Brown “American Fiction”
Robert Downey Jr. “Oppenheimer”
Ryan Gosling “Barbie”
Charles Melton “May December”
Dominic Sessa “The Holdovers”

Viola Davis in “Air”


Emily Blunt “Oppenheimer”
Viola Davis “Air”
Rachel McAdams “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret”
Julianne Moore “May December”
Da’Vine Joy Randolph “The Holdovers”

The Holdovers


Asteroid City
The Holdovers
Killers of the Flower Moon


Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

American Fiction – Cord Jefferson; based on the novel Erasure by Percival Everett

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret – Kelly Fremon Craig; based on the novel by Judy Blume

Killers of the Flower MoonEric Roth and Martin Scorsese; based on the book Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

OppenheimerChristopher Nolan; based on the book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin

The Zone of InterestJonathan Glazer; based on the novel by Martin Amis


Alex Convery “Air”
Justine Triet and Arthur Harari “Anatomy of a Fall”
 Greta Gerwig & Noah Baumbach “Barbie”
David Hemingson “The Holdovers”
Celine Song “Past Lives”

(L to R) Jake Ryan, Jason Schwartzman and Tom Hanks in director Wes Anderson’s ASTEROID CITY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Pop. 87 Productions/Focus Features


Robert D. Yeoman “Asteroid City”
Rodrigo Prieto “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Matthew Libatique “Maestro”
Hoyte van Hoytema “Oppenheimer”
Lukasz Zal “The Zone of Interest”


Kevin Tent “The Holdovers”
Kirk Baxter “The Killer”
Thelma Schoonmaker “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Michelle Tesoro “Maestro”
Jennifer Lame “Oppenheimer”
Paul Watts “The Zone of Interest”



Adam Stockhausen “Asteroid City”
Sarah Greenwood (Production Designer), Katie Spencer (Set Decorator)“Barbie”
Jack Fisk “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Ruth De Jong “Oppenheimer”
James Price (Production Designer), Shona Heath (Production Designer), Szusza Mihalek (Set Decorator)“Poor Things”


Jacqueline Durran “Barbie”
Jacqueline West (Costume Design), Julie O’Keefe (Head Osage Wardrobe Consultant) “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Ellen Mirojnick “Oppenheimer”
Holly Waddington “Poor Things”
Stacey Battat “Priscilla”



Robbie Robertson “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Marcelo Zavros “May December”
Ludwig Göransson “Oppenheimer”
Daniel Pemberton “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”
Mica Levi “The Zone of Interest”


The Holdovers
The Killer



The CreatorJay Cooper, Ian Comley (ILM Visual Effects Supervisors); Andrew Roberts (On Set Visual Effects Supervisor); Neil Corbould (Supervising Special Effects Supervisor)

Godzilla Minus One Takashi Yamazaki (Visual Effects Supervisor)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Stephane Ceretti (Visual Effects Supervisor), Alexis Wajsbrot (Visual Effects Supervisor), Guy Williams (Visual Effects Supervisor), Teho Bialek (Visual Effects Supervisor)

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One Alex Wuttke (Visual Effects Supervisor), Simone Coco (Visual Effects Supervisor), Jeff Sutherland (Visual Effects Supervisor), Neil Corbould (Special Effects Supervisor)

Oppenheimer Andrew Jackson (Production Visual Effects Supervisor), Giacomo Mineo (Visual Effects Supervisor), Scott Fisher (Special Effects Supervisor), Dave Drzewiecki (Visual Effects Director of Photography)


Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny – Mike Massa (Stunt Coordinator / Double), Abdelaaziz Attougui (Stunt Performer)

The Iron Claw – Chavo Guerrero Jr. (Stunt Performer and Stunt Wrestling Coordinator)

John Wick: Chapter 4 – Scott Rogers (Stunt Coordinator), Stephen Dunlevy (Stunt Coordinator)

The Killer – Dave Macomber (Fight / Stunt Coordinator)

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One – Wade Eastwood (Stunt Coordinator)


Anatomy of a Fall
Fallen Leaves
Perfect Days
The Teachers’ Lounge
The Zone of Interest


The Killer

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
John Wick: Chapter 4
The Killer
Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse


The Boy and the Heron
Robot Dreams
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem


American Fiction
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
The Holdovers


Yogi Berra subject of “It Ain’t Over”

American Symphony
Beyond Utopia
It Ain’t Over
Menus Plaisirs – Les Troisgros
Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie


Evil Dead Rise
Knock at the Cabin
Talk to Me

Knock at the Cabin


Barbie — Gloria’s monologue on the impossible standards set for women

John Wick: Chapter 4 – Staircase fight on the 222 steps leading up to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica in Paris

Killers of the Flower Moon – The radio show finale

Maestro – Leonard Bernstein conducts London Symphony in “Mahler’s Symphony No. 2” in Ely Cathedral

Oppenheimer – Trinity Test

Anatomy of a Fall

Cinema St. Louis is thrilled to unveil the 32nd Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), set to captivate audiences from November 9th to 19th at the historic Hi-Pointe Theatre, CSL’s new forever home, as well as at multiple venues across the city including the Alamo Drafthouse, Webster University, Washington University and more.

CSL’s centerpiece event, is a world-class international film festival that exhibits films from around the globe and attracts between 25,000 and 31,000 patrons annually. Offering its 32nd edition in 2023, the fest presents 278 films over 11 days in November. Featured work includes shorts, documentaries, foreign-language works, American independents, restorations/revivals, and studio art-film releases.
More than 100 filmmakers, documentary subjects, scholars, and critics attend the fest, participating in post-film discussions, master classes, and seminars. In 2019, SLIFF was included among USA Today’s 10 Best Film Festivals.

Highlights of this year’s fest include:

  • SLIFF’s Opening Night Party on 11/9 at the Hi-Pointe, where the fest will celebrate 50 Years of Hip-Hop in St. Louis, as explored through both film and music
  • Signe Baumane on hand to accept this year’s Women in Film Award at a showing of her newest film, “My Love Affair with Marriage” on 11/11
  • La Passion de Dodin Bouffant” (Taste of Things), Cannes award winner for director Trần Anh Hùng, starring Juliette Binoche, Pierre Gagnaire, Jan Hammenecker, and Benoît Magimel, serves as France’s official submission for Best International Feature for the 96th Academy Awards in 2024 and will screen on 11/12 at the Hi-Pointe Theatre
  • Director Alexander Payne to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, while showcasing not only his newest film on 11/14“The Holdovers,” but also his modern classic, “The Descendants,” on 11/15
  • A screening of The TIFF 2023 People’s Choice Award winner, “American Fiction,” on 11/17, directed and written by Cord Jefferson, co-starring St. Louis’s favorite son, Sterling K. Brown.
  • Highlighting the lives of the LGBTQ+ community, SLIFF’s QFest Spotlight Film“All of Us Strangers,” from Searchlight Pictures, the critically acclaimed romantic drama written and directed by Andrew Haigh, starring Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, and Claire Foy, will close the festival on 11/19
  • The festival will culminate on Sunday, November 19th, with the much-anticipated Awards Party, featuring an insightful conversation with Reginald Hudlin, during which he will be bestowed with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Reginald Hudlin

The festival kicks off on Thursday, November 9th, celebrating 50 Years of Hip-Hop with a tribute to the Hi-Pointe Cafe’s pivotal role in shaping hip-hop’s history, showcasing the city’s significant influence in its evolution. Attendees will be treated to a cocktail reception, engaging conversations, and a special screening of the 1990 film, “House Party,” directed by East St. Louis’ own, Reginald Hudlin.

CSL’s Executive Director, Bree Maniscalco, shared, “As we celebrate our first festival at the Hi-Pointe Theatre, we wanted to pay tribute to the H-Pointe neighborhood and honor those who made Hip-Hop what it is today. Mondays at the Hi-Pointe Cafe holds a special place in many people’s hearts, and we’re looking to bring it back to kick things off in style for this year’s Fest.”

This year’s festival promises a variety of exclusive events, screenings, enlightening post-film Q&A sessions, and illuminating masterclasses dedicated to addressing industry-relevant topics. SLIFF received an impressive 2,419 submissions, marking the festival’s 32nd anniversary with record-breaking enthusiasm. SLIFF’s dedicated team of programmers, hailing from diverse backgrounds, meticulously curated a selection of 278 remarkable films that underscore the transformative power of cinema.

The lineup includes 54 captivating narrative features, 52 thought-provoking documentary features, and an astounding 172 short films, all part of its prestigious Oscar-qualifying annual Shorts Competition. These films delve deep into a spectrum of compelling themes, ranging from art, the environment, human rights, and racial equity, to name just a few. What’s more, they authentically represent perspectives from 32 countries, encompassing an astounding 39 native languages, ensuring that SLIFF remains a truly international celebration of storytelling through film.

The Holdovers


SLIFF serves as a cinematic beacon, illuminating the big screen with a diverse array of films that might otherwise remain hidden gems, waiting to be discovered by local audiences. As the festival unfolds, St. Louis becomes a vibrant hub for filmmakers from far and wide, with many making their inaugural visit to the city. In this dynamic atmosphere, the city buzzes with the infectious energy and passion that only the power of film can generate.

  • ●  Documentary Spotlight: Sponsored by Mary and Leon Strauss, this spotlight will screen 130 films, including “Sorry/Not Sorry,” an examination of Louis C.K.’s, comeback and the unseen effects of this on the women who spoke publicly about the sexual harassment accusations in 2017; “Chasing Chasing Amy,” the complex legacy of Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy (1997, also screening at SLIFF) on LGBTQ+ people and its life-saving impact on director Sav Rodgers; “We Dare to Dream,” follows athletes on their journey to become part of the refugee Olympic team; “Nathan-ism,” a tender portrayal of an artist’s distinctive viewpoint on his war assignment, coupled with his impassioned yearning for self-expression.; and “Omoiyari,” follows Kishi Bashi when a media interview links the Muslim ban and the immigration crisis at the USA-Mexico border with the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII.
  • ●  French Language Spotlight: Sponsored by the Jane M. and Bruce P. Robert Charitable Foundation, this spotlight will feature 16 feature and short films celebrating St. Louis’ Gallic heritage and France’s cinematic legacy. Leading the spotlight is “La Passion de Dodin Bouffant” (Taste of Things), Cannes award winner for director Trần Anh Hùng, starring Juliette Binoche, Pierre Gagnaire, Jan Hammenecker, and Benoît Magimel, serves as France’s official submission for Best International Feature for the 96th Academy Awards in 2024.
  • ●  New Filmmakers Forum: SLIFF’s longest-running juried award, highlighting first-time narrative feature filmmakers whose works truly stand out.
  • ●  Oscar-Qualifying Shorts Competition: SLIFF is one of 63 Oscar-accredited short film competitions worldwide, making filmmakers who win a “Best of” at SLIFF, eligible for an Academy Award nomination.
    • ○  Across 11 documentary shorts programs, audiences will witness the global impact of art, the nuances of the Black experience, the damage done by society’s broken systems, the power of indigenous lands, the thrill of high-stakes sports, the state of the average workday, the importance of sustainability, the plight of immigrants worldwide, the spectrum of sexuality, the reality of living with disabilities, and the untold stories of remarkable St. Louisans.
    • ○  This year’s selection of narrative short films strives to highlight the vast array of global voices in contemporary cinema. Twenty languages are represented, and over half come from female filmmakers. Three highlights of the fifteen total programs are “Beyond Pedro,” a slate of shorts from emergent Spanish filmmakers, “Pan-Asia Stories,” and “Joy in Latinx Representation.” Elsewhere, adventurous genre fans will find new kinds of horror with “A New Kind of Blood” and eye-popping, mind-bending animation from around the world with “Transmission.” Of course, area films and filmmakers are well represented in the narrative shorts selections, with two programs featuring the best of the 2023 St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, held by Cinema St. Louis this past summer.

Paul Mescal, Andrew Scott in “All of Us Strangers”
  • ●  QFest Spotlight: A collection of films that spotlight the lives of LGBTQ people while celebrating queer culture. Films include “All of Us Strangers,” from Searchlight Pictures, the critically acclaimed romantic drama written and directed by Andrew Haigh, loosely based on the 1987 novel Strangers by Taichi Yamada. The film stars Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, and Claire Foy; “Glitter & Doom,” a fantastical summer romance musical told with the iconic tunes of legendary American Folk music duo the Indigo Girls; and “Housekeeping for Beginners,” the Official submission of North Macedonia for the Best International Feature Film category of the 96th Academy Awards in 2024.
  • ●  Race in America Spotlight: For the last 10 years, SLIFF’s Race In America programming has reflected the frustrations of African Americans in response to the events in Ferguson. While this mission continues, the Spotlight will also draw attention to building community, fostering dialogue, and creating a platform for real societal change. To maximize these objectives, all of the 14 programs are offered for free thanks to support from the Trio Foundation of St. Louis. Films include “The Space Race,” which explores the experiences of the first Black astronauts through decades of archive film and interviews in a reflective illumination on the burden of breaking barriers; “Razing Liberty Square,” chronicling residents who fight to save their community from climate gentrification; “Ellis,” the first feature-length documentary about Ellis Marsalis Jr. and the Marsalis Music Family. This screening will pay tribute to the late St. Louis Post-Dispatch Theater Critic (former film critic), Calvin Wilson, with a portion of ticket proceeds donated to his alma mater, Northwest High School’s Performing Arts department; “Black Barbie,” the story behind the first Black Barbie; and “Kenyatta Do Not Wait Your Turn,” from Al Roker, an inspiring film that follows a self-described “poor, gay, Black man from North Philly” on his historic run for the U.S. Senate.

● Studio Spotlight: Star-filled highlights include “All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt,” an American drama film, written and directed by Raven Jackson, starring Charleen McClure, Moses Ingram, Reginald Helms Jr., Zainab Jah, Sheila Atim, and Chris Chalk; “American Fiction,” an American satirical comedy-drama film directed and written by Cord Jefferson based on the 2001 novel Erasure by Percival Everett, starring Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, Erika Alexander, Leslie Uggams, Sterling K. Brown, Myra Lucretia Taylor, John Ortiz, Issa Rae, and Adam Brody; “The Holdovers,” an American comedy-drama film directed by Alexander Payne, starring Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Dominic Sessa; “Maxine’s Baby,” a documentary about Tyler Perry; and “Taste of Things,” (La Passion de Dodin Bouffant), directed by Trần Anh Hùng, starring Juliette Binoche, Pierre Gagnaire, Jan Hammenecker, and Benoît Magimel, is sure to leave audiences hungry for more and serves as France’s official submission for Best International Feature for the 96th Academy Awards in 2024.

Alexander Payne: © Aristidis Vafeiadakis via ZUMA Wire)


SLIFF is pleased to honor the following for their incredible contributions to film:
● Reginald Hudlin, a distinguished American film screenwriter, director, producer, and accomplished comic-book writer, hails from the vibrant cultural tapestry of East St. Louis. His cinematic repertoire boasts an impressive array of works, including notable titles such as “Marshall,” “The Black Godfather,” and “Sidney,” each contributing to his renowned status in the industry. On the closing night of the SLIFF, which falls on Sunday, November 19thHudlin will engage in an enlightening interview, offering audiences a captivating insight into his illustrious career, and he will be bestowed with a highly deserved Lifetime Achievement Award, an accolade reflecting his enduring influence.

● Alexander Payne, a luminary in American cinema, is a prominent film director, screenwriter, and producer celebrated for his illustrious career, including directorial gems such as “Sideways,” “Election,” and “Nebraska,” each a testament to his mastery of the craft. On Tuesday, November 14th, at the Hi-Pointe Theatre, audiences will have the rare opportunity to delve into the creative genius of Payne with his latest cinematic creation, “The Holdovers.” This screening is an occasion to honor Payne with a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award. On Wednesday, November 15th, at the Hi-Pointe Theatre following a screening of his 2011 cinematic masterpiece, “The Descendants,” Payne will engage in an enlightening conversation, led by former CSL Executive Director Cliff Froehlich. In a poignant gesture of solidarity, a portion of the ticket sales from this screening will be donated to the Hawaii People’s Fund, an organization dedicated to offering direct aid in the aftermath of Maui’s wildfire devastation.

● Signe Baumane, an extraordinary talent from Latvia now rooted in the creative hub of Brooklyn, Baumane emerges as a multifaceted powerhouse in independent filmmaking, artistry, writing, and animation. With an illustrious career, she has crafted 16 acclaimed animated shorts that have earned her numerous awards and accolades, solidifying her place as a luminary in the field. Her groundbreaking animated feature debut, “Rocks in My Pockets,”

impressed SLIFF audiences in the past, and audiences this year will be entertained by her latest cinematic offering, “My Love Affair with Marriage.” Her film will screen at the Hi-Pointe Theatre on Saturday, November 11th, where she will be honored with the prestigious Women In Film Award, a testament to her unwavering dedication and the inspiring stories she brings to life through her craft.

American Fiction


Tickets are now on sale:

  • ●  All Access Pass (admits two): $500 / CSL Members $400
  • ●  VIP Pass (admits one): $350 / CSL Members $300
  • ●  20-Film Pass: $250 / CSL Members $200
  • ●  10-Film Pass: $130 / CSL Members $100
  • ●  6-Film Pass: $80 / CSL Members $60

Not a CSL Annual Member? In addition to discounts at SLIFF, members receive year-round benefits, sure to please every type of movie lover. Learn more and become a member here:


The festival will showcase films and special events across multiple centrally-located venues throughout the St. Louis area:

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, located at 3700 Forest Park Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63108 Arkadin Cinema & Bar, located at 5228 Gravois Ave, St. Louis, MO 63116 Contemporary Art Museum, located at 3750 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 The Foundry Art Center, located at 520 N Main Center, St Charles, MO 63301 Hi-Pointe Theatre, located at 1005 McCausland Ave., St. Louis, MO 63117

Hi-Pointe Backlot Theatre, located at 1002 Hi-Pointe Pl., St. Louis, MO 63117 St. Louis Public Central Library, located at 1301 Olive St., St. Louis, MO 63103

Washington University, Brown Hall Auditorium, located at Centennial Greenway, St. Louis, MO 63105

Webster University, Moore Auditorium, located at 470 East Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, MO 63119


Title Sponsor: Whitaker Foundation

Sustaining Sponsors: Albrecht Family Foundation, Chellappa-Vedavalli Foundation, Coolfire Studios, Jane M. & Bruce P. Robert Charitable Foundation, Ward & Carol Klein, Nancy & Ken Kranzberg, Missouri Arts Council, Missouri Division of Tourism, Missouri Film Office, National Endowment for the Arts, Regional Arts Commission, Mary Strauss, Trio Foundation of St. Louis, William A. Kerr Foundation

Presenting Partners: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Arkadin Cinema & Bar, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Eventive, Film & Media Archive at Washington University Libraries, Film & Media Studies Program at Washington University, Foundry Art Centre, St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis Public Radio, Webster University Film Series

More information about SLIFF can be found at