Oscar-worthy: Reviewing the year’s best films


Graphic illustration by Features Section

The Oscars recognized several of last year’s most acclaimed films, including CODA, King Richard and Dune.

The 94th Academy Awards, more commonly known as the Oscars, were held on Sunday, March 27 to recognize the award-winning films of 2021. On top of the memorable confrontation between Will Smith and Chris Rock, the Oscars recognized several of last year’s most acclaimed films, including CODA, King Richard and Dune.



Winning the biggest award of the night — Best Picture —  CODA tells the story of a girl from a deaf family exploring her passion for singing while trying to help her family’s struggling fishing business. The title, which stands for Children of Deaf Adults, made history by being the first movie from a streaming service to win the award. Though movies from other well known services have been nominated, Apple TV+ is the first to win Best Picture, reflecting the transition of movie experiences from theaters to homes.

Set in a small town, the story follows Ruby, played by Emilia Jones, the only hearing person in her family, as she works with her family to fish and interprets for the family. When she joins the school choir, Ruby is encouraged by the choir teacher to pursue singing, though this causes conflict between her and her family as her parents believe she should focus on the business. 

The film balances both Ruby and her parents’ views, showing parts of Ruby’s choir concert in the family’s perspective without sound, and it beautifully portrays Ruby’s struggle choosing between her family and her future. Though somewhat predictable, the movie’s genuine messages on family and stellar performances by the deaf cast and Emilia Jones make it the right choice for Best Picture.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 


King Richard

A riveting and impassioned tale of a father determined to shape his talented daughters into superstars, King Richard brought home the Best Actor Award for Will Smith’s inspiring performance as Richard Williams, the notorious, headstrong father of tennis celebrities Venus and Serena Williams.

The film features countless raw, poignant scenes, such as a tear-jerking moment as Venus reels from a significant loss on the court. Delicately straying away from the typical cliches of sports dramas, King Richard presents an astounding display of humanity and highlights the Williams sisters’ stirring ambition through rousing tennis sequences and a medley of whimsical and fierce soundtracks. The film does not neglect to depict Williams’ infamous obstinacy and rigidity, yet simultaneously highlights his adoration and respect for his daughters.

Smith astutely portrays the vulnerability of a father yearning to shield his daughters from the pitfalls of fame and the persistence to build a life for his family outside the streets of Compton. The film offers a sober perspective on police brutality and systemic racism in the neighborhood as Williams attempts to carve a career for his girls in a white-dominated sport. King Richard brings a rare authenticity to the big screen and Smith’s zealous performance is unparalleled, making it most deserving of its acclaim and the Best Actor Award.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 



Sci-fi epic Dune swept the Oscars with wins in cinematography, editing, score, visual effects, production design and sound. Director Denis Villeneuve crafted an engrossing film that whisks audiences into an electrifying, mythical and otherworldly universe. Centered around Paul Atreides, a prophesied messiah and future duke of the House Atreides, the film captures his journey toward becoming a leader of his people and bringing peace to planet Arrakis — a desolate desert planet home to the most valuable resource in the universe.  

As the film navigates between multilayered themes, Villenueve immerses viewers into the world with awe-inspiring visuals. Every frame is filled with meticulously designed costumes, realistic sets and visual effects that breathe life into author Frank Herbert’s futuristic universe. The film also conveys vast discrepancies of scale, as exhibited by the massive sandworms looming before tiny men and intricate transport ornithopters flying over grand landscapes. In addition, the score ties the film together and evokes a distinctive, mesmeric feel. Composer Hans Zimmer experimented with an exotic mix of choral, rock, vocal and electronic sounds to convey both the beauty and the danger of the Dune universe. 

The talented team behind Dune set a new precedent for the technical quality of future big-screen films, and the film is an exceptional sci-fi spectacle that is truly worthy of six Oscar wins.

Rating: 5 out of 5