There are three things that a film has to do in order to qualify for eternal blue-ribbon, Mount Olympus status and the simultaneous allegiance of Joe and Jane Popcorn along with your elitist, dweeb-level, ivory-tower elites.

One, it has to deliver the plain, honest truth (or undercurrent of truth) about a given world or situation — along with a little entertainment value, okay, but without undue exaggeration, no shallow exploitation, not too much sugar or vinegar, and no blatant bullshit of any kind. (This requirement in itself leaves out at least 80% of commercial cinema.)

Two, it has to persuade audiences to emotionally invest in it — to trust what it’s doing and where it seems to be going.

Three and most importantly, it has to put you into a kind of alternate-reality mescaline dream state…a place that you want to stay in and never leave, or at least make you want to return to frequently — a realm that feels so inviting or stylistically transporting that you want to live in it, even if it seems a bit dangerous.

Yes, of course — all movies are dream states in a way. The better ones always lead to a certain primal feeling of alteration or discovery (the film has taken you to an entirely new but seemingly straightforward place) or emotional comfort and reassurance. But the ones that hit the jackpot are the ones that tell you what this or that slice of life on planet earth (or life aboard an intergalactic space cruiser) is basically like …how it really is…the full, honest, non-delusional truth of things.

Which of the 2024 Best Picture nominees did you want to literally move into and live in, or at least visit for a few weeks?

I hated the claustrophobic world of Oppenheimer…university classrooms, government inquisition rooms, meeting rooms, Los Alamos residential shacks. If a magical bearded wizard came up to me last summer and said “I can fix it so you can literally time-travel back to J. Robert Oppenheimer’s world…back to 1930s England, 1940s bomb-blast Los Alamos and 1950s paranoid America….would you like to go?”….I would scrunch my face up and say to that fucking wizard “are you fucking kidding me?”

I was mildly intrigued by the Oklahoma world of Killers of the Flower Moon during my first viewing, but the second viewing was hell…I was stuck in that godawful fucking world, watching and listening to those 1920s roadsters chugging along those muddy streets…those awful damp ditches where the bodies were dumped…studying Leonardo DiCaprio‘s dumbfuck facial expressions, stuck with Lily Gladstone‘s dreary, Native American passivity and Robert De Niro‘s pinched expressions and midwestern drawl…hate it, hate it…escape!

I loved visiting the trippy, furious-jumping, sound-stage world of Poor Things. but I didn’t want to actually live in it. Because it’s skewed and unreal and more than a bit arch — no offense.

I’m too much of an average, well-educated, moderate-minded white dude to want to live in the satirical, male-despising, super-feminized world of Barbie….sorry.

I felt completely comfortable with the 1970 realm of The Holdovers. If that same wizard offered me a chance to time-trip back to ’70, I would go if I could journey there as a young lad with twenty grand in my wallet…cool. I would love that.

The realm of American Fiction is a wise and intelligent one…my kind of place except all the whiteys are woke moron suck-ups. Not my cave, bruh.

I loved certain aspects of the dream-world of Maestro, but I hated the casual cruelties forced upon poor Carey Mulligan.

Past Lives was an under-energized drag, and it always will be — I would never want to hang with those three dull people.

Anatomy of a Fall? No thanks. I now associate Grenoble with stifling vibes and constipation

Would I want to live in the nicely tended home in The Zone of Interest, right next to the walls of Auschwitz? I need to answer this?

I will forgive a film for not being an inviting place to hang in or visit if it’s being relentlessly honest about itself and the world it’s depicting. But the best kind of film tells the truth and offers an extra-cool hang in terms of environment, style, vibes.

There is no bullshit and nothing but truth in The Bicycle Thief (notice that I didn’t call it The Bicycle Thieves), North by Northwest, East of Eden, Mean Streets, Repo Man, Election, The Hospital, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, David Fincher‘s Mindhunter series, Gunga Din, Some Like It Hot, Two Women, La Strada, Zero Dark Thirty, Vertigo, Fellini Satyricon, Manchester By The Sea, Paths of Glory, Vertigo, Nomadland, Only Angels Have Wings, Collateral and 12 Years A Slave.