It has long been my opinion that any Oscar-season pundit who professes to truly love and recommend too many films for Oscar glory…anyone who pours out award-season love too generously is, in my humble opinion, a kind of slut.

Say what you will about Hollywood Elsewhere but I don’t sell praise and affection as a rule. When I express love for a film or a performance or some other significant cinematic achievement in whatever category, it means something. Okay, now and then I’ve moderated or tempered my opinions in exchange for ads, but spottily.

What 2023 award-season contenders has Hollywood Elsewhere passionately gone to bat for so far? Which films do I, Jeffrey Wells, seriously love and admire as we speak? I’m just stating this plain and straight because all my life I’ve been in this racket for those rare poutpourings of love, awe and excitement.

Unlike the gladhanders, I have strict standards. I don’t think it means anything if your standards are overly elastic. Then again I’m not a hate factory. The wokester killers and suppressionists have tried to characterize me as such, but love means nothing if you’re not picky.

HE LOVE: Alexander Payne‘s The Holdovers. Yorgos LanthimosPoor Things. David Fincher‘s The Killer. Michael Mann‘s Ferrari. Tran Anh Hung’s The Taste of Things. Almost certainly American Fiction and Napoleon, although I haven’t yet seen them. Plus I earnestly respect and admire the impact that Barbie and Oppenheimer had las summer. That’s nine at the top of the list….nine!

Not to mention Errol Morris‘s The Pigeon Tunnel, Ilker Çatak’s The Teacher’s Lounge (official German submission for Best Int’l feature), Aki Kaurismäki‘s Fallen Leaves. Call it twelve.

And let’s not forget Jean-Stephen Sauvaire’s Black Flies, which I tumbled for in Cannes last May. (And I don’t care what Manohla Dargis thinks of it.)

Plus Guy Ritchie‘s excellent The Covenant, Christian Mungiu‘s RMN, Cruise & McQuarrie‘s Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning, Part One, Ari Aster‘s Beau Is Afraid, Jonathan Glazer‘s The Zone of Interest. Ben Affleck‘s Air. And…uhm, okay, Celine Song‘s Past Lives to a modest extent.