Wesley Morris

The Oscars are a diagnosis of the health of the movies. And the five to 10 films nominated for best picture operate as a class that doubles as an X-ray of the Academy and the movie business at large. They’re telling the truth about what the priorities of this industry actually are.”

-Wesley Morris, episode 359 of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso

Wesley Morris has served as critic at large at The New York Times since 2015, covering film, politics, and pop culture. He joins this week to discuss this year’s Academy Award nominations.

At the top, we discuss the omission of Greta Gerwig from the Best Director category (6:07), former Secretary Clinton on Barbie-gate (10:12), the ‘perversely effective’ nature of Killers of the Flower Moon (16:30), and the ways in which Bradley Cooper’s Maestro upends the traditional biopic (21:45). Wesley then reflects on his early adventures in moviegoing (30:43), the indie film boom of the late ‘90s (35:15), the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (36:23) what the Best Picture nominations of 1988 can tell us about 2023’s slate (38:05), and the erosion of the ‘middle’ across film and culture (41:02).

On the back-half: Todd Haynes’ beguiling new film May December (44:10), Ava DuVernay’s Origin (45:53), the Academy’s fraught relationship to diversity (53:05), the function of Wesley’s work in 2024 (1:05:58) and a reading of his moving, personal review about Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers (1:10:54).

For questions, comments, or to join our mailing list, reach me at sf@talkeasypod.com. This conversation was recorded at Spotify Studios.

Original illustration by Krishna Shenoi.

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