Sasha Stone and I just finished an hour-long chat about Tuesday morning’s (1.24) announcement of the ’23 Oscar nominations, and the obvious fact that Top Gun: Maverick, which will certainly be among the chosen few, is the only prospective nominee that feels truly commanding. Authoritatively, I mean.

Despite the familiarity and the formulaic strategy, TG:M is the only finalist that feels homerunnish…not to mention the achievement of having joined forces with Avatar: The Way of Avatar to save and even restore a classic, life-giving Hollywood dynamic (thrills, popcorn, warm seats) to exhibition itself…there’s no ignoring the metaphor.

Everything Everywhere All at Once is passionately supported (I’ll give it that) but on its own terms (reach, theme, imagination) and despite an excellent final line it drives sane people crazy.

The Fabelmans is basically a double that makes you feel more relieved than fulfilled when it ends.

For all the brilliance and audacity Tar underwhelms — Kubrick famously said that strong films connect for the feel rather than the think, and Tar is not much of a feeler.

The Banshees of Inisherin is also more weirdly thinky than feely.

I don’t know what Elvis is but it sure as hell is no triple or homer. The Bazzyness is draining.

Women Talking is an earnest whiff. Babylon, due respect, missed it. The corrosive cruelty delivered by All Quiet on the Western Front is unforgettable but not, in the annals of world cinema, unfamiliar.

At the end of the day Avatar: The Way of Water is more about knockout efficiency than the turning of a special key.