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NPR's favorite movies of 2023 (that didn't make it to the Oscars)

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

More than 50 movies have been nominated for the 96th Academy Awards - "Oppenheimer" and "American Fiction," even "Flamin' Hot," the story of Flamin' Hot Cheetos. And yet so many great movies from last year are going unnoticed by the Oscars. Well, not by us. A few of our NPR producers told us what movies they think deserve a gold statuette but didn't even get a nomination.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A THOUSAND AND ONE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Is that Inez?

TEYANA TAYLOR: (As Inez de la Paz) I got the perms, the hairs, the weaves.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) I thought you moved to another shelter.

TAYLOR: (As Inez de la Paz) No, you know I was in Rutgers.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) I really missed you, girl.

TAYLOR: (As Inez de la Paz) Yeah and apparently, these roots, too. What you been doing?

MALLORY YU, BYLINE: Hey, my name is Mallory Yu, and I'm a producer for All Things Considered. I give an Academy Award for best actress to Teyana Taylor for her performance in the film "A Thousand and One." In it, Taylor plays Inez, a young woman struggling to survive with her son in Harlem through the '90s and 2000. Months after watching this movie, I'm still struck by how subtly and beautifully Taylor portrayed the physical and mental toll that fighting a system in which you're marginalized can take on a person through their life. Taylor's performance is just luminous and deserves more applause than it's been given.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "(DON'T FEAR) THE REAPER")

BLUE OYSTER CULT: (Singing) All our times...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE IRON CLAW")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) Kerry, I want you to join your brothers in the ring.

JEREMY ALLEN WHITE: (As Kerry Von Erich) Yes, sir. I love that.

HOLT MCCALLANY: (As Fritz von Erich) Now, we all know Kerry's my favorite, then Kev, then David, then Mike. But the rankings can always change.

ISABELLA GOMEZ SARMIENTO, BYLINE: Hi. My name is Isabella Gomez Sarmiento. I'm a producer with NPR's culture desk. I would give an Oscar for best picture to "The Iron Claw," which was written and directed by Sean Durkin. It was one of the most emotionally resonant films I watched in 2023, because it's based on the real-life story and tragedy of the Von Erich family, who were a bunch of wrestling superstars in Texas in the 1980s. It has an absolutely stacked cast. It really explores gender dynamics within a family. And even though it's a really sad story, it balances that loss out with this beauty and light and really emotive connection that you see between not just a family but brothers specifically in the way that they look out for one another.

MARC RIVERS, BYLINE: Hey, my name is Marc Rivers. I'm a producer at All Things Considered and for Consider This. And I would give an Oscar for best international feature to Tran Anh Hung's film "The Taste Of Things." This is a 19th century romantic drama starring Juliette Binoche as a cook who works for a gourmet restaurant owner, played by Benoit Magimel.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE TASTE OF THINGS")

BENOIT MAGIMEL: (As Dodin Bouffant, speaking French).

RIVERS: This is a lovely and elegant film about the care, love and even art that can go into living, and it is depicted through cooking. The opening 30 minutes focuses on the preparation of an ornate meal, and it's one of the best action scenes I've ever seen.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET")

ABBY RYDER FORTSON: (As Margaret) Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret.

DANNY HENSEL, BYLINE: My name is Danny Hensel, and I'm a producer for this program. I would give an Oscar for best supporting actress to Rachel McAdams for "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret." So it's based on the Judy Blume novel, and it follows a sixth grader for a school year after she moves from New York City to the Jersey suburbs in the '70s. But the movie gives a lot of time to Margaret's mom as she's dealing with her new life volunteering at the school, answering her daughter's many questions about puberty.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) If you want to be in the club, then you have to wear...

ABBY: (As Margaret Simon) A bra.

RACHEL MCADAMS: (As Barbara Simon) Oh. Do you think you need one?

HENSEL: It's one of the all-timer movie mom performances. McAdams is supportive and charming and tender and emotional, and you just try holding back tears as she explains to Margaret why their family doesn't talk to her parents anymore.

RASCOE: That was Danny Hensel, Marc Rivers, Isabella Gomez Sarmiento and Mallory Yu all sharing their favorite movies from 2023 that you won't be hearing about tonight at the Oscars. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.