Reasons why “Poor Things” deserves to take home the Oscar for Best Picture.

Estimated read time 4 min read

“Did you witness my personal growth journey towards achieving happiness?”

“What about the use of language in our interactions? Is that not occurring?”

“I have to go hit that infant!”

Emma Stone’s performance in Yorgos Lanthimos’s comedic and biting Poor Things is worthy of an immediate Best Picture Oscar.

However, there is also the irresistibly rude idea of Frankenstein, the trippy camera work that transitions between color and black and white, the cleverly crafted set design and wardrobe, the suggestive background music that initially mirrors the protagonist’s childlike piano playing but then rises and dances as her intelligence and sexual confidence grow. And let’s not forget the fast-paced plot itself, which moves forward like a steampunk locomotive.

Due to numerous factors, I am eagerly anticipating producer Ed Guiney’s appearance on stage to deliver the final speech upon announcement of the best picture Oscar. He will be joined by his co-producers Daniel Battsek, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Emma Stone, who will stand behind him in support.

“Poor Things” is a remarkable drama about a young woman, portrayed by Stone, who goes by the name Victoria Blessington. In this fantastical depiction of the Victorian era, she belongs to the upper class. In a desperate move, she tries to end her own life by jumping into the river Thames. Lanthimos captures this hauntingly dreamlike scene from behind her, as she sinks downwards and out of sight, concealing an important detail. (On a side note, I still hold out hope for Stone to lead a prequel of “Poor Things,” revealing her character’s story leading up to this moment.)

However, her nearly lifeless body is discovered and used for experiments by troubled doctor Godwin Baxter. Willem Dafoe gives a convincing performance as Baxter, who revives her and names her Bella Baxter. She becomes his ward or pet or even daughter, but her beauty and innocence catch the attention of Baxter’s assistant McCandles (portrayed excellently by Ramy Youssef), who falls in love with her. Bella’s erratic behavior angers Baxter’s housekeeper, played hilariously by Vicki Pepperdine, who deserves more recognition. Just when their unusual household seems to settle into a strange sense of normalcy, Bella runs off with a scoundrel named Duncan Wedderburn, played perfectly by Mark Ruffalo. This leads to her journey around the world and into her own honest and uninhibited sexuality.

Tony McNamara’s adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s original novel is expertly crafted, as seen in the superb work of Robbie Ryan’s cinematography, Shona Heath and James Price’s production designs, Holly Waddington’s costumes, Jerskin Fendrix’s mesmerizing score, and many other elements. Emma Stone’s bold and fearless portrayal propels the film seamlessly throughout its two-hour-plus runtime, and her unique beauty and hypnotic eyes give her an otherworldly appearance. (Fans of award season may also recall the 2015 Golden Globes, where Tina Fey and Amy Poehler teasingly compared Emma Stone to the wide-eyed children depicted in Margaret Keane’s kitschy paintings from Tim Burton’s film Big Eyes. Emma took this good-naturedly and director Yorgos Lanthimos has cleverly incorporated her ethereal beauty into this movie.)

After the release of Poor Things, critics have begun to question it, stating that it is actually a male fantasy that exploits and promotes pedophilia.

My personal belief is that this criticism, much like “fetch” in the film Mean Girls, never gained popularity. Poor Things serves as an example of how a truly great work of art surpasses political preferences and online criticism. Its rebellious energy comes from breaking away from societal norms and pushing boundaries. It also comes from a European director who operated outside the conservative Hollywood studio system and is based on a literary work by an esteemed author from a time when publishers weren’t afraid of controversial topics. Despite this, I must acknowledge Viv Groskop’s well-made argument in this article, pointing out the oversight of the male characters in not considering Bella’s ability to menstruate or become pregnant, despite the focus on anatomical details and explicit sex.

Well, with production co-designer Shona Heath, costume designer Holly Waddington and indeed producer-star Emma Stone, there are powerful female gazes at work.

Unable to reword.


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