Robert Towne‘s definition of the essence of a good film is “four or five” fundamental, touch-bottom moments “between two people.” That’s not the same thing as Howard Hawks‘ definition of a good film — “Three great scenes and no bad ones.” But it’s close enough or at least in the same ballpark.

Yes, that’s correct — it’s time once again to ask which of this year’s presumed Best Picture candidates satisfy the Hawks or Towne requirements.

Without getting too bogged down in micro-analysis, does Nomadland measure up? I’d say “certainly” without question. Ditto Steve McQueen‘s Mangrove, Roman Polanski‘s J’Accuse (again — one has to be able to separate one’s opinion of an artist from the work itself), Aaron Sorkin‘s Trial of the Chicago 7, Florian Zeller‘s The Father (which I watched last night for the second time), David Fincher‘s Mank and Darius Marder‘s Sound of Metal.

You want me to list the great or very good scenes in each one? Sure but later. I’m going on a hike soon.

What about Promising Young Woman, Minari, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, One Night in Miami, News of the World, Da 5 Bloods and Soul?