Yesterday N.Y. Times industry reporter Kyle Buchanan declared that The Pot-Au-Feu (aka The Taste of Things) is “absolutely” competitive above and beyond the Best Int’l Feature category. He believes this because Tran Anh Hung’s French culinary romance is “incredibly Academy friendly.”

Most of us know what “Academy-friendly” means…a film that feels confident and well-crafted in a classic, well-settled sense…one that delivers emotional comfort by way of a well-threaded conveyance of commonly held truths and values…a film that resides within familiar boundaries and doesn’t push the envelope too much. In short, a film that appeals to over-45 sophistos.

But of course, there’s another kind of Academy-friendly film these days — one that appeals to the under-45 crowd by placing significant value upon identity politics (i.e., celebrating female, LGBTQ and non-white actors and filmmakers) above everything else…a film that caters to the tastes and views of the New Academy Kidz.

So which of the currently hot contenders and performances are traditionally Academy friendly vs. NAK-friendly? And which among these exude an intimidation factor — a film or performance that may be very good on a quality-level, but which voters will feel obliged to support regardless because they don’t want anyone to think they lack of a social conscience or, God forbid, may be harboring a certain undercurrent of racism.

Abbreviation-wise, the three categories are (a) AF, (b) NAK and (c) IF (intimidation factor). HE has also created a fourth category — FI or forget it.


Oppenheimer (AF)
Barbie (AF)
The Holdovers (purely AF)
Poor Things (mostly NAK)
Killers of the Flower Moon (35% AF, 65% NAK, 100% IF)

The Taste of Things / The Pot-au-Feu (totally AF)
Maestro (semi-AF but allegedly “weak tea”)
American Fiction (equal parts AF, NAK, IF)
Past Lives (NAK, FI)
The Zone of Interest (NAK, not very AF)
Nyad (FI)

Anatomy of a Fall (NAK)
All of Us Strangers (FI…beard-stubble factor)
Dream Scenario (NAK)

Air (AF)
May December (FI)
Saltburn (FI)
Dumb Money (FI)


Napoleon (AF)
Fair Play
The Color Purple (NAK)
Ferrari ()
The Iron Claw
The Killer (AF)
Priscilla (AF)