Why Aftersun Should Have Been Nominatedfor Best Picture at the 2023 Oscars

It’s that time of the year when film lovers everywhere come together to see whether their newest favorite movie was selected for “Best Picture” at the Oscars.

The 2023 Oscars lineup is pretty intense, the top contenders consisting of Martin Scorsese’s semi-autobiographical film The Fabelmans, one of Cate Blanchet’s best performances in Tar, and the fan favorite of the year Everything, Everywhere, All at Once.

When the list was announced, however, I couldn’t help but notice one well-deserved movie missing.
The A24 movie Aftersun premiered in late Oct. 2022 and has continued moving audiences since. With a 4.3 Letterboxd rating, higher than most other chosen movies, Aftersun stands as one of the most emotional and touching movies of the year.

It follows the father-daughter duo of Calum and Sophie as they travel together on vacation in Turkey. As they spend time together, the plot suggests this will be the last time they do so. The brilliance of this movie is the fact that the viewer isn’t told what happened to their relationship, and it leaves space for the audience to create their own story with the clues provided.

The story is simple. There are no crazy plot lines or supernatural elements. It is strictly about a father-daughter relationship looked back on many years later.

This movie opens our eyes to how we see our parents versus who our parents really are. Sophie in the film is just 11 years old while her father is 30. Calum suffers from mental health issues, but he never lets Sophie see this side of him. It is not until she is older that she truly sees who her father was. As she looks back, she can see this vacation and her father for what really happened.

Our parents are foreign to us at a younger age. As we get older, we start to realize all the sacrifices they made for us. What were our parents doing when they were in college and who were they? If we didn’t know our parents then, do we even know them now? Aftersun raises these questions and makes viewers reevaluate the important relationships we have in our lives.

The character of Calum is played by Paul Mescal, and Sophie is played by Frankie Corio. This acting duo is exceptional together. Rather new to the business, they nevertheless give the performances of a lifetime. Luckily, Mescal picked up the nomination for Best Actor for this role, the only nomination this film sees for any category.

This moving story isn’t just told through its acting, but its directing and soundtrack as well. Director Charlotte Wells does a fantastic job of transporting the viewers to the characters’ vacation. The directing style is simple, and it makes the story appear very surface-level to people who don’t pay attention. Wells creates this illusion to portray real life. What we see going on the outside isn’t what is always happening on the inside.

The original soundtrack of this movie is also phenomenal. Oliver Coates’ beautiful instrumentals go along with the scenes and tell a story in their own way. Along with this, Wells also includes popular songs.

One that stuck out to me was the use of Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure.” The song itself appears very uplifting and fun, which amplifies the same atmosphere as Calum and Sophie’s vacation.

Nonetheless, when you dive deeper into the lyrics and movie, you uncover a deeper story. We watch them blissfully dance together as we hear Bowie scream “This is our last dance” repeatedly in the background, foreshadowing the loss of communication between the two characters.

Aftersun is amazing and one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It’s real by touching on subjects that arise in our everyday life — mental health and relationships with parents. It takes us to a world that isn’t so far from our own. It makes our struggles feel seen.