By Alex McPherson

A disturbing story of greed, prejudice, and the American Dream soaked in venom, director Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” raises awareness of heinous crimes committed against the Osage People, and contains outstanding craftsmanship, but remains limited in perspective. Scorsese’s film is a reminder of the hardships and resilience of the Osage framed largely through the eyes of White evildoers, to emotionally compromised effect.

Based on David Grann’s bestselling nonfiction book of the same name, “Killers of the Flower Moon” centers around the “Reign of Terror” that befell members of the Osage Nation in the early 1920s. After being forced to relocate to supposedly desolate land in Oklahoma, members of the Osage Nation discovered that their new surroundings contained oil — rendering them the richest people per capita on Earth, but also targets for manipulation by those eager to strip them of all rights and privileges.

Such is the case of William “King” Hale (Robert De Niro), a wealthy cattle rancher and businessman, who feigns love for the Osage but seeks to take control of their oil-rich lands via any means necessary, including murdering them for oil rights.

Hale’s nephew, the infuriating and slow-witted Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), returns from working as a cook in World War I, looking to Hale for a job, unabashedly admitting his love for women and money. Ernest, having injuries that prevent him from doing much manual labor, starts working as a cab driver, where he meets Mollie Kyle (an incredible Lily Gladstone) — a beautiful, sharply intelligent woman quietly enraged at the ways she’s treated by White-dominated authority — and becomes smitten with her. 

DiCaprio and Gladstone as Ernest and Mollie

Hale encourages Ernest to seduce and marry Mollie, who also happens to be an heir to a large fortune in oil royalties held by her mother, Lizzie Q (Tantoo Cardinal) — so long as Mollie’s sisters and their husbands aren’t around to inherit it first. Thus sets the stage for brazen brutality, as Hale and Ernest’s schemes grow ever more elaborate, and Ernest becomes a part of Mollie’s family — developing genuine love for her while simultaneously killing her family behind her back: infuriatingly ignorant and/or unwilling to reckon with his own bloodthirstiness and lack of humanity. Eventually, a J. Edgar Hoover-ordered FBI investigation gets underway, led by agent Tom White (Jesse Plemmons), but the grisly damage has already been done.

Indeed, “Killers of the Flower Moon” tells a sobering, insidious story that needs to be told, taking plenty of time to set the scene, emphasize the devilish machinations of its villains, and educate viewers on the hardships and resilience of the Osage Nation. What’s sacrificed by Scorsese and co-writer Eric Roth’s screenplay, however, is a more intentional, meaningful focus. 

The film spotlights Ernest’s crisis of conscience (or lack thereof) above diving into the individual tragedies committed against the Osage — illuminating themes that, regardless of relevance, have persisted throughout American history. Scorsese misses an opportunity to explore new, informative points-of-view that have previously been sidelined in mainstream storytelling of this scale.

Stylistically, “Killers of the Flower Moon” excels, but viewers shouldn’t expect anything less from Scorsese. On a big screen, the film is unquestionably immersive, with cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto capturing expansive plains and claustrophobic interiors, blinding sun and menacing, pitch-black darkness, in beautiful compositions that rarely draw too much attention to themselves.

Longtime Scorsese editor Thelma Schoonmaker lets scenes breathe and marinate — giving the incredible ensemble, including numerous Indigenous actors, room to stretch their wings, with Scorsese taking a noticeably sparse directorial style that eschews flashiness for intimate contemplation: sometimes taking a more spiritual, matter-of-fact approach in depicting Osage customs.

Acts of violence against the Osage are depicted with cold remove — coming seemingly out of nowhere, shocking in their immediacy and grotesque without being gratuitous. The late Robbie Robertson’s score is particularly effective as an omnipresent heartbeat to the monstrous acts unfolding before our eyes.

DiCaprio delivers a characteristically engaging performance as Ernest, with a rough-hewn look, disastrous dentistry, and playful swagger that belies a dark heart of greed and moral bankruptcy.

Viewers going into “Killers of the Flower Moon” with expectations for Ernest to be “redeemed” won’t find that arc here, as his love for Mollie is always offset by the cruelty he exhibits behind her back: a buffoon resistant to the shred of goodness located somewhere deep within his corrupted heart.

As our primary vessel for this story, he’s frustrating, if not outright idiotic, being manipulated by Hale and giving into base instincts that cannot coexist alongside his life with Mollie, try though he might.

DeNiro is frighteningly unhinged as Hale, swerving between Hale’s public and private personas with precision. Hale enlists henchmen to do his dirty work for him, but he remains a powerful presence, and Scorsese’s film gives us plenty of time to observe him pulling strings and explaining his schemes, hiding his conspiracies behind seemingly benign smiles and a culture of complicity.

 Gladstone is, without a doubt, the film’s MVP, conveying warmth, quiet rage, crushing sadness, and persistent hope with minimal dialogue. Through it all, Mollie’s bravery shines through — her resistance to accepting Ernest’s betrayal is heartbreaking to watch.

It’s too bad that “Killers of the Flower Moon” fades her into the background after a certain point, though, as well as giving her siblings and other members of the Osage Nation — featuring powerful performances from Cara Jade Myers, Janae Collins, Jillian Dion, and William Belleau, among others — only a handful of sequences (in the span of a mammoth 206-minute runtime) to divert the spotlight from White evildoers.

That extended runtime exacerbates this issue, especially in the third act, full of legal histrionics and prolonged sequences where viewers watch Ernest and co. squirm under interrogation by the FBI; their incompetence and stupidity on full display, even as the “justice system” fails to live up to its name. 

A last-minute framing device at the conclusion paints the proceedings in a somewhat new light (commenting on the twisted appeal of true-crime stories to begin with and bringing attention to the limitations of Scorsese’s directorial viewpoint, ending with a notable shift back to the Osage in its closing moments), but perhaps “Killers of the Flower Moon” could have been better told by a filmmaker more willing to buck tradition.

It’s admirable that Scorsese takes on the challenge here, and will undoubtedly raise awareness to these real-life happenings, but “Killers of the Flower Moon” is also ham-strung by his own storytelling patterns. It’s an important film brimming with technical mastery and exceptional performances, but one that’s not nearly as enlightening or emotionally gripping as it believes it is.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is a 2023 historical western true crime drama directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons. Cara Jade Myers, Brendan Fraser, John Lithgow, Tommy Schultz
Rated: R for violence, some grisly images, and language, the run time is 3 hours, 26 minutes. It opens in theatres Oct. 20 and will stream on Apple TV+ at a later date, to be announced. Alex’s Grade: B

By Lynn Venhaus
A sprawling saga exploring the horrific exploitation of Native Americans and how the entitled white interlopers of Fairfax, Okla., manipulated, stole, extorted, and killed them is a true story that needs to be told.

While I’m not declaring “Killers of the Flower Moon” a modern masterpiece like many of my colleagues, I admire the efforts and care that the filmmakers brought to this explosive, gut-wrenching tale of injustice.

Members of the Osage tribe in the U.S. are murdered under mysterious circumstances in the 1920s, after oil is found on their land, and finally, after too much time — and death — has elapsed, it sparks a major F.B.I. investigation started by J. Edgar Hoover.

Martin Scorsese is such a visceral director, with his keen eye for visuals and distinctive way music organically becomes part of his storytelling, that his sweeping view of the prairie and respect for the indigenous people of the land is breath-taking.

And in his expert way, captures the ugly, insidious greed and power plays that overtake this locale in moody, murky images and unsavory incidents. But the decision to concentrate mostly on the villains, who keep getting away with these awful crimes, is hard to watch for 206 minutes. I know, how he depicts corruption is a Scorsese trademark. (But blasphemy — is he the right person to tell this story?)

A densely layered plot becomes one long slow death march, and yes, it’s disturbing. We get to the point quickly about the amoral criminal behavior underway, but the repetitiveness, slow-burn style, makes one impatient for any sign of justice.

Do we need 3 hours, 26 minutes to tell this story? No. Based on American journalist David Grann’s best-selling 2017 nonfiction book “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” the work would likely be better served as a mini-series.

The Kyle sisters

Many characters get the short shrift. You may be hard-pressed to recall their characters or the way they fit into the puzzle: Tantoo Cardinal, JaNae Collins, Jillian Dion, William Belleau, Louis Cancelmi, Tatanka Means, Michael Abbot Jr., Pat Healy, Scott Shepard, Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson, although you’ll remember Cara Jade Myers as Mollie’s wronged sister Anna, who is brutally murdered, and Tommy Schultz as Blackie Thompson, who figures in to some of the earlier shenanigans.. And then, Brendan Fraser and John Lithgow show up, ever so briefly, as attorneys near the end.

With its $200 million price tag, it is technically brilliant, with exceptional cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto (who also did “Barbie” this year!), and stunning production design by Jack Fisk. 

Yet, I can’t ignore the flaws in the storytelling. At times, it’s cold, flat, and airless because it’s hard to root for people. As the Osage daughter Mollie, Lily Gladstone is the heart of the film, but that’s a lot to carry on her shoulders – although she’s definitely the secret weapon. She will be in the awards conversations at year’s end.

Scorsese, and co-writer Eric Roth, concentrated on the improbable romance of opportunistic Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Gladstone’s Mollie Kyle, and what happens in their orbit is indicative of the behaviors of the time.

By 1872, the U.S. government had forced the Osage from their ancestral homeland to Oklahoma, and at the turn of the century, oil was discovered, which brought a fortune to the Osage nation. Because they became some of the wealthiest people in the world overnight, that didn’t sit well with the old-white-guys network, who would systematically destroy and take over any way possible to get their hands on that money from the ‘black gold.’ For some, that involved marrying an Osage, and becoming the heir.

DeNiro as William Hale and DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhardt

Robert De Niro is sensational in a strong sly performance as William Hale, the town’s kingpin — interestingly enough, nicknamed “King.” He controls everything, and pretends to be a great friend to all. Those in his employment do his dirty work, and the despicable deeds start piling up, too many to ignore. Scorsese brings out DeNiro’s best, and since 1973, they have made 10 films together.

Hale is Ernest’s uncle. And Ernest has arrived after serving in World War I, as a cook, who can’t do manual labor but is eager to make money. He starts out as a taxi driver, where he meets Mollie, and hopes sparks will fly. They eventually marry and have three children. DiCaprio, always interesting, goes to the dark side here, disheartening for his loved ones when the truth eventually comes out. It’s DiCaprio’s sixth feature collaboration with Scorsese, since “The Gangs of New York” in 2002.

Enter Jesse Plemons as FBI agent Tom White, who seems like he could be intimidated, but is brave enough to pursue righting wrongs. He comes in later in the second act, which is interesting because the book concentrated on his narrative.

The performances are superb, although Leo’s bulldog grimace wears thin as does his period-appropriate dental work (yikes). Does subtly sinister suit the golden boy? Jury’s out, but thankfully, his portrayal is more conflicted than sympathetic.

But Gladstone is remarkable, her fierce intelligence shining through as the betrayed wife. I was impressed with her work in Kelly Reichardt’s 2016 indie movie “Certain Women,” so happy to see attention being paid.

Robbie Robertson’s music score is so organic that at times, you will not notice it. As a member of The Band and a great friend of Scorsese, they have worked together on soundtracks before – “Raging Bull,” “The King of Comedy,” “The Color of Money” and “The Irishman,” after their legendary documentary collaboration “The Last Waltz” in 1978.

Now that Robertson has passed (Aug. 9), the film is dedicated to his memory. He was a Native American as well – the son of a Cayuga and Mohawk mother and lived on the Six Nations Reserve in Canada southwest of Toronto during his youth. So that’s a special connection.

For its unusual finale, the film jarringly shifts to a radio show, which gives a razzamatazz wrap-up of all the corruption and dastardly deeds that have transpired.

Overall, the film is a haunting reminder of the atrocities committed against the Osage Nation specifically and indigenous people in general, and for that, it should spark outrage, which is necessary.

Perhaps watching it again when it streams on the small screen (No date as yet, just ‘later on Apple TV+), I will find more nuance and make a stronger emotional connection. It is a story that needs to be told.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is a 2023 historical western true crime drama directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons. Cara Jade Myers, Brendan Fraser, John Lithgow, Tommy Schultz
Rated: R for violence, some grisly images, and language, the run time is 3 hours, 26 minutes. It opens in theatres Oct. 20 and will stream on Apple TV+ at a later date, to be announced. Lynn’s Grade: B-

DeNiro, Jesse Plemons

By Alex McPherson

An exhausting film filled with compelling performances, director Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale” exerts a vice-like grip throughout, reveling in both discomfort and emotional catharsis.

Adapted from a play of the same name by Samuel D. Hunter, who also wrote the screenplay, “The Whale” centers around Charlie (Brendan Fraser), a reclusive, morbidly obese English teacher giving remote lessons within a fetid apartment in Idaho during the 2016 presidential primaries.

Suffering from congestive heart failure, and refusing medical care, Charlie doesn’t have much time left — prompting this kind yet tormented soul to reflect on his mistakes and seek some semblance of inner peace. Above all else, he wants to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter, Ellie (Sadie Sink), who prickles with rage and resentment at not only him, but the world at large. 

Eight years prior, Charlie abandoned Ellie and his then-wife, Mary (Samantha Morton) to be with his gay lover, Alan, who later passed away, leaving Charlie reeling with grief and practically eating himself into the grave. Charlie is looked after by his friend, Liz (Hong Chau), a nurse who shares a past with him and who is battling her own all-encompassing demons.

As the days tick by, Charlie frequently refers back to an essay one of his students wrote about “Moby Dick” — a blunt interpretation whose honesty affects him to his very core.

The stage is set for in-your-face melodrama, and “The Whale” certainly tries to make viewers feel as much as possible. Yet, despite the script’s heavy-handedness and cinematic flourishes that detract from its noble messages, Aronofsky’s film soars on the undeniable power of its performances. Fraser is marvelous, bringing tenderness to a character too often put in extreme situations. 

Indeed, Charlie is seemingly at battle with the film itself — a tug-of-war between empathy and cruelty. Aronofsky — known as a boundary-pushing filmmaker — has no qualms about putting him through the ringer from beginning to end. Despite a dreary, limited setting (enhanced by a claustrophobic aspect ratio), the near-constant punishment from the outside world, and his untenable condition, Charlie remains hopeful that he can help Ellie restore some faith in herself to weather their harsh world, and thereby right the greatest wrong in his own tragic life. 

With a fatsuit and strong makeup work, Fraser’s first impression is startling (even played to “horror” lengths at certain points), but his earnest line delivery brings sensitivity and sly humor to a character otherwise harshly defined. It’s difficult to overstate just how effective Fraser is here — even the most clumsy, heavy-handed soliloquies feel impactful thanks to his raw skill as a performer and his ability to convey meaning that isn’t always there in the screenplay.

The rest of the cast is exceptional as well, particularly Chau, who brings much-needed groundedness to the film’s increasingly melodramatic plot developments. Liz is a high-strung, enabling, and grief-stricken person herself — doing what she can for Charlie, while also neglecting to appreciate his last wishes.

Sadie Sink

Sink, on the other hand, is downright scary as Ellie, a teenager warped by cynicism and insecurity. It often seems like Sink, and the script, have Ellie dialed up to 11, which lessens the character’s authenticity and leans into exaggeration. Still, in the few moments where Ellie isn’t verbally abusing Charlie (or worse), viewers get glimpses beneath the facade, where some warmth and compassion remain. 

Also worth mentioning is Ty Simpkins, who plays Thomas, a church missionary who keeps showing up at Charlie’s doorstep and wants to “save” him before the end-times. Like most of the people Charlie interacts with, Thomas doesn’t have his best interests at heart, and “The Whale” emphasizes Charlie’s personal salvation over prejudiced, preordained constraints.

Aronofsky’s film is far less successful, though, in its translation from stage to screen. This isn’t a subtle film by any means, and blunt symbolism abounds — notably in how Charlie’s weight can function as a metaphor for his regrets, and how the film paints parallels between his body and that of the White Whale in “Moby Dick.” Moments where Aronofsky and cinematographer Matthew Libatique showcase the depths of Charlie’s desperation stand out as unnecessary and demeaning, inserted for shock value at his expense.

Ironically, the sequences where “The Whale” is most like a stage-play are where it works best — pleading for viewers’ sympathy, sacrificing emotional nuance, and giving the ensemble plenty of opportunities to loudly declare their awards-worthiness. Strange though this dichotomy is, it remains engrossing.

Less than the sum of its parts, albeit absorbing throughout, “The Whale” is worth watching as an acting showcase and an examination of ideas in a dramatic framework that’s seemingly, fascinatingly at war with itself.

“The Whale” is a 2022 drama directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Brenda Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau and Ty Simpkins. It’s rated R for some language, some drug use and sexual content and has a 1 hour, 57 minutes runtime. It opened in select theaters Dec. 21. Alex’s Grade: B

By Lynn Venhaus
Brendan Fraser is heartbreaking and haunting as a morbidly obese recluse with mental and physical health problems in the difficult-to-watch “The Whale.”

He’s a reclusive English teacher who has an opportunity to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter (Sadie Sink).

As Charlie, he is attracting year-end awards attention, and deservedly so. It’s a stunning, brave performance from Fraser, possibly his best. He depicts this bruised man as a gentle soul whose tragic flaw was caring too much in a disingenuous environment.

Now 54, he has been acting for three decades. Deemed a heartthrob in his 20s after such films as “George of the Jungle” and “The Mummy,” his varied career has included comedies (“Airheads,” “Encino Man”), dramas (“Gods and Monsters,” “Crash”), TV (“The Affair” and “Trust”), and voice-over animation work (King of the Hill,” “The Simpsons”). Most recently, he’s been playing Cliff Steele on the HBOMax series “Doom Patrol.”

While wearing prosthetics to make him look like a 600-lb. man, Fraser allows us to see the hurting human being inside. Charlie is dying and can’t stop eating himself to death – it’s a choice.

Shots of his girth, his inability to move without assistance, and a trapped, confined, lethargic existence where he shuns easier mobility are painful and sad.

The remarkable transformation was crafted by makeup artist Adrien Morot, who was Oscar nominated for “Barney’s Version,” and has worked on the 2019 “Pet Sematary” reboot and “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” among his credits.

“The Whale” is a bleak adaptation of a play by Samuel D. Hunter on how a character gets into his current predicament because of loss, guilt, and love. The amount of self-loathing makes it painful to witness, but Fraser is never not authentic.

Confined to a run-down two-bedroom home that reflects how frozen in time the lead character is, Charlie has not been able to get past his lover’s suicide years earlier. He has shut himself off from society, hidden away in a grief cocoon of his own making.

A learned man, as reflected by crammed bookshelves, with an academic career – he teaches online English classes, he offers to write his estranged daughter’s high school assignments. He is desperate to reconnect with her, and it becomes a shot at redemption.  

Sadie Sink

As played by Sadie Sink, Ellie is a sullen, snarling, and angry teen who lashes out at everyone, especially her father, whom she blames for many of his failings, and hers. Her dad left when she was 8 years old, because he had fallen in love with one of his students.

The plot connects more dots, because nurse Liz, in a tough-love performance from Hong Chau, has a history with Charlie.

She does not indulge in his solitary imprisonment, but at the same time, tries to be realistic about his death march.

The playwright obviously has an axe to grind about evangelicals and their quest for salvation. The religious ties are revealed slowly, but Thomas, a missionary from “New Life Ministries,” looking very similar to a Mormon, attempts a conversion. He’s adroitly played by Ty Simpkins, now grown-up, most known for being the older brother in “Jurassic World” and a kid in “Iron Man 3.”

He is not as innocent as he seems, but seems unfairly targeted by Ellie, who can’t hide her disdain — but the mocking is cruel.

The backstories get sorted out, but no encounter is a random one. Samantha Morton has another outstanding cameo (she is brilliant as an informant in “She Said”) as Charlie’s bitter ex-wife. The resentment is no longer simmering, it’s a full-on rolling boil.

A lot of yelling is directed at Charlie, and between mother and daughter, so the confrontations are blunt and in-your-face. You begin to understand why Charlie wants to be left alone. Why deal with the messiness of humanity?

The playwright, who wrote the film adaptation, set the play in Mormon country in Idaho, and belabors the point repeatedly. 

The theme doesn’t vary that much from director Darren Aronofsky’s familiar darker and often nihilistic films (“Requiem for a Dream,” “Black Swan,” “Mother!”).

Brendan Fraser

You can see its stage roots showing, and the author clumsily connects Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” obsession to the situation facing Charlie, while the evangelical ties are also heavy-handed.

Even though glimmers of hope emerge, when Charlie says: “Who would want me to be part of their life?,” it’s a gut-punch.

There are two gasp-worthy scenes – an eat-your-feelings binge that’s horrifying and a devastating reveal to students, that one must summon empathy and compassion or check out.

So much of the distressing story has a “too little, too late” tinge to it, adding to the feelings of regret and recrimination that permeate the space.

Because of the script’s complexities, you know that the ending won’t be a sweet, sappy resolution. Yet, the way it concludes is still unexpected.

Overall, “The Whale” is an unsettling and uneven work, marked by good performances that deserved better material.

“The Whale” is a 2022 drama directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Brenda Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau and Ty Simpkins. It’s rated R for some language, some drug use and sexual content and has a 1 hour, 57 minutes runtime. It opened in select theaters Dec. 21. Lynn’s Grade: C.

Hong Chau in “The Whale”

The wild action, sci-fi and comedic adventure “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has been named Best Film of 2022 by the St. Louis Film Critics Association.

Writer-directors The Daniels’ chaotic tale of an overworked Chinese immigrant’s multiverse journey won five awards overall, including Michelle Yeoh for best actress. She plays Evelyn Wang, whose business is struggling, her marriage is on the rocks, and she has complicated relationships with her daughter and father.

As Evelyn’s milquetoast husband, Ke Huy Quan won supporting actor while Paul Rogers won for editing and The Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), who directed, were named in a tie for best original screenplay.

SLFCA announced its awards in 23 categories on Dec. 18, with honors spread out among 13 films.

“The Banshees of Inisherin,” “Elvis” and “Women Talking” each received three awards.

 Martin McDonagh tied with the Daniels for original screenplay, for his pitch-black comedy “The Banshees of Inisherin,” which is about friends at an impasse, who live on a remote Irish island in 1923, while Kerry Condon won best supporting actress as the smart and feisty Siobhan, sister to Colin Farrell’s Padraic, and Ben Davis won for his moody and rugged cinematography.

This is the third year the group has selected a woman for its director award — Chloe Zhao, “Nomadland,” in 2020; Jane Campion for “The Power of the Dog” in 2021; and now, Sarah Polley for “Women Talking.”

“Women Talking,” about the women in an isolated religious community deciding on what action to take after a series of sexual assaults in 2010, also won for best ensemble cast and for Hildur Guðnadóttir’s acoustic music score that taps into community and hope.

Catherine Martin won for designing costumes and with Karen Murphy for production design on her husband Baz Luhrmann’s electric “Elvis” biopic, which was also singled out for best soundtrack.

For best actor, Brendan Fraser was selected for his bravura performance in “The Whale,” playing a 600-lb. recluse grappling with loss and guilt while trying to reconnect with his daughter.

The regional critics group announced its annual nominations Dec. 11, with “The Banshees of Inisherin” leading with 11 nominations, followed by ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ with 10; ‘Women Talking’ and ‘The Fabelmans’ earned eight each. Those nominations are listed here:

For Special Merit recognition, the St. Louis Film Critics selected three people for the honor:  imprisoned Iranian director Jafar Panahi, whistleblower actress Ashley Judd and posthumously, influential musician-actor David Bowie.

SLFCA President Jim Tudor said the group wanted to recognize filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who was sentenced to six years in prison by the Iranian government for inquiring about the arrests of his fellow filmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad.

The international film community has denounced his imprisonment as unjust. His latest work, “No Bears,” was shown at the Venice Film Festival and New York Film Festival this fall.

Jafar Panahi

The SLFCA statements on the three Special Merits:

Jafar Panahi

“In recognition of the courage of imprisoned Iranian director Jafar Panahi and all those film professionals confronting political oppression in the pursuit of free speech, human rights, and artistic expression.”

Ashley Judd

“We recognize Ashley Judd for the bravery and courage she demonstrated in portraying herself in ‘She Said.’”

David Bowie

“After nominating the experimental documentary “Moonage Daydream,” we want to also honor the expansive and continuing cinematic presence of singer-songwriter and actor David Bowie, whose life and music continues to permeate and enrich the cinema landscape.”

Here’s the list of our 2022 SLFCA Awards winners and runners-up:

Stephanie Hsu, Michelle Yeoh, Ke huy Quan of “Everything Everywhere All at Once”


Everything Everywhere All at Once

Runner-up Women Talking

Best Director – Sarah Polley, “Women Talking”

Runner-up: The Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) , “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Best Actor – Brendan Fraser, “The Whale”

Runner-up: Austin Butler, “Elvis”

Best Actress – Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Runner-up: Danielle Deadwyler, “Till”

Best Supporting Actor – Ke Huy Quan, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
Runner-up: Brendan Gleeson, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Best Supporting Actress – Kerry Condon, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Runners-up: (tie) Angela Bassett, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and Janelle Monae, “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”

Women Talking

Best Ensemble – Women Talking

Runner-up: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Best Adapted Screenplay – She Said Rebecca Lenkiewicz; based on the book She Said by Jodi Cantor and Megan Twohey, and on the New York Times investigation by Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey, and Rebecca Corbett

Runner-up: Women Talking – Sarah Polley, adapted from book by Miriam Toews

Best Original Screenplay – tie “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Martin McDonagh, and The Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Runner-up: “The Menu,” Will Tracy and Seth Reiss

Best Cinematography – Ben Davis, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Runner-up: Greig Fraser, “The Batman”

Best Editing – Paul Rogers, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Runner-up: Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond, “Elvis “

Best Production Design – Elvis, Catherine Martin and Karen Murphy 

Runner-up: “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” Rick Heinrichs

Best Costume Design – “Elvis,” Catherine Martin 

Runner-up: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Ruth E. Carter

Best Visual Effects – Avatar: The Way of Water”

Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon, and Daniel Barrett

Runner-Up: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Music Score – “Women Talking,” Hilda Guðnadóttir

Runner up (tie): Carter Burwell, “The Banshees of Inisherin”;  Michael Giacchino, “The Batman” and John Williams, “The Fabelmans.”

Best Soundtrack – Elvis

Runner-up: Moonage Daydream

Best Action Film – Top Gun: Maverick
Runner-up: RRR

Best Comedy Film – Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

Runner-up: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Best Horror Film – Nope
Runner-up: X

Best Animated Film – Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Runner-up: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Best International Feature – Decision to Leave

Runner-up: RRR

Best Documentary Feature – All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

Runner-up (tie): Good Night Oppy and Moonage Daydream

Best Scene – Sam Fabelman meets one of his idols on the studio lot in “The Fabelmans”

Runner-up: Iceman meets with Maverick in “Top Gun: Maverick”

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. (Note: critics Alex McPherson and Lynn Venhaus are members).

For the awards, eligible films are those that opened in the greater St. Louis area or had an online premiere during the 2022 calendar year – including those film that were given awards-qualifying runs in 2021 but were not available to all SLFCA members until 2022. Films slated for release in early 2023 are also eligible if a press screening, DVD screener, or screening link was provided to all SLFCA members.

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The Banshees of Inisherin