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”

“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

By Lynn Venhaus

Geniuses are complicated; therefore, the life of America’s first superstar conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein is explored in an uncommon yet charismatic way in “Maestro.”

“Maestro” chronicles the complex 30-year relationship between Leonard Bernstein (Bradley Cooper) and actress Felicia Montealegre Cohn (Carey Mulligan) in an intricate portrait of art and love.

At their career-best are Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan who eloquently capture the passion of two people experiencing the highs and lows of an artistic life in the spotlight. They’re terrific together, and they throw themselves into these roles with a heartfelt and powerful intensity that’s mesmerizing throughout this unconventional 30-year love story.

As director, co-writer and star, Cooper masterfully conveys a larger-than-life cultural icon from his first conducting opportunity at Carnegie Hall when he was 25 to his later years after Felicia’s death in 1978. But he doesn’t gloss over his flaws, particularly as an often selfish, self-absorbed artist accustomed to attention.

The dynamic between the couple is the film’s biggest strength. And in crafting indelible portraits, they both are flawless executing the speech cadences of their characters. Mulligan, in particular, adds emotional depth to Felicia’s steely resolve and confused feelings.

Maestro. (L to R) Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein (Director/Writer/Producer) and Carey Mulligan as Felicia Montealegre in Maestro. Cr. Jason McDonald/Netflix © 2023.

The movie isn’t your typical linear womb-to-tomb biopic, and Cooper made the decision to concentrate on the married couple’s mercurial yet unbreakable union that produced three children despite the tangled nature of Bernstein’s sexuality.

His open affairs with men are more implied than delved into, however, with Matt Bomer miniscule as early lover David Oppenheim and Gideon Glick as later lover Tommy Cothran. In real life, Bernstein separated from Felicia to live with Cothran, and then returned when she became terminally ill, but that’s not specifically mentioned – only surmised.

Cooper and Josh Singer, Oscar winner for “Spotlight” who worked with producer Steven Spielberg on “The Post,” focused more on the family situation, with career highlights woven into an intriguing life tapestry.

Bernstein’s zest for living was contagious, and he dreamed big. He achieved unparalleled success in music – both conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and for his legendary compositions and was the first American conductor to get international acclaim.

I remember his “Young People’s Concerts” (1958-1972) on television on Sunday afternoons. He was the first conductor to share and explore classical music to a mass audience that way.

His range was vast, and he won seven Emmys, two Tonys, and 16 Grammys during his lifetime.

One drawback is that if you aren’t familiar with Bernstein’s epic body of work, you may be lost, for there are no date stamps and sometimes only a quick reference to the material. The music score features Bernstein’s most famous compositions, re-recorded for the film.

If you didn’t know about his Broadway musical theater works “On the Town” in 1944 and “West Side Story” in 1957, both choreographed by Jerome Robbins, you’ll not be further enlightened unless you do your own research, for you only hear snippets here.

His supple compositions for “West Side Story,” arguably the greatest musical theater score of all-time with lyricist Stephen Sondheim, are barely a footnote. His propulsive Oscar-nominated score for the 1954 Best Picture winner “On the Waterfront” is another masterpiece getting only a brief mention.

Some of his massive choral pieces “Candide” and “Mass” are presented in rehearsal and performance, but again, without a timeline, one may not recognize their significance. That must be frustrating to those who didn’t grow up with his music, which I did – and recognize there are gaps for a modern audience.

The film’s best scene is Bernstein vigorously conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s Second Symphony (“Resurrection”) performed at the Ely Cathedral in 1973. It’s an incredible show-stopper – but without knowing what or when. Still, that scene is stunning, revealing his musical virtuosity and innate theatricality for six and a half minutes – and resulted in the New York Film Festival audience bursting into thunderous applause and cheers. It was as if we witnessed Bernstein become the music.

Credit must go to conducting consultant Yannick Nézet-Séguin, whose expertise helped Cooper feel the music, and it’s thrilling. He is currently conducts the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center.

The look of the film is luxe, especially the sumptuous black-and-white cinematography by Matthew Libatique that depicts a dazzling magical time for young artists in Manhattan in the ‘40s and ‘50s.

The costumes designed by Mark Bridges are also swoon-worthy, with Mulligan’s outfits not only representing Felicia’s class and grace, but also their rising fortunes. Bridges is a two-time Oscar winner for “The Artist” and “Phantom Thread,” and has a keen eye for textures and detail. The scene where Felicia wears a Chanel suit to get bad news from her doctor is a small, but memorable, character element.

Special make-up effects artist Kazu Hiro’s seamless transformation of a 48-year-old Cooper into Bernstein at different ages is stunning, with the prosthetics lifelike. He has won two previous Oscars, for “Bombshell” and “The Darkest Hour,” transforming Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill.

Production designer Kevin Thompson’s affinity for details is striking, from the concert halls to the private residences, particularly Bernstein’s’ idyllic country home in Connecticut and a lavish apartment in the historic Dakota building. Thompson’s previous work includes “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” and “Ad Astra.”

The sound mixing and editing is astonishing in aural quality and should be recognized with year-end awards. That level of excellence is not just reserved for big blockbuster visual effects extravaganzas.

Even by narrowing the focus, the movie still spans decades of remarkable achievements while offering a warm portrait of a comfortable family life, with the three Bernstein children surrounded by love and affection. Maya Hawke portrays eldest daughter Jamie as a teenager with questions, Sam Nivola is son Alexander and Alexa Swinton is daughter Nina.

Another key supporting performance in this tableau is Sarah Silverman as Lennie’s sister Shirley. Bernstein’s lifelong friend Aaron Copeland (Brian Klugman) doesn’t get much screen time.

The movie packs many details in its 2 hours, 9 minutes run time, and perhaps would have been clearer in a limited series, like “Fosse-Verdon.” However, a second viewing produced far more nuance and narrowed attention.

The majestic grandeur came through on a large screen, and because the scope is ambitious, I hope it is not lost on the smaller screen.

But those bravura performances will linger no matter what format.

“Maestro” is a 2023 drama, biography directed by Bradley Cooper and starring Cooper, Bradley Cooper, Carey Mulligan, Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke, Sarah Silverman, and Gideon Glick. It is rated R for language and some drug use and it’s runtime is 2 hours, 11 minutes. In select local theaters Dec. 8 (St. Louis area) and streaming on Netflix Dec. 20. Lynn’s Grade: A-