This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by editor Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
The truth is that part of me never wanted to watch Tár .
First of all, it is two hours and 37 minutes long. Gross. My strictest religious belief is that no film ever needs to be over two hours.
It also became so hyped-up, which can be the worst thing to happen to a film. Everyone I know who had seen it had raved about it, specifically about Cate Blanchett’s towering performance as Lydia Tár, an imperious composer-conductor whose career is upended following a personal scandal that explodes in the media. Have you ever seen a movie after everyone you know and trust has ecstatically fawned over how good it is? You end up hating it, because it could never live up to the mythical bar that your friends at brunch had set for it.
Then there were the Tár memes. It became a running joke on social media to talk about Lydia Tár as if she were a real person , shaming people who didn’t give “her” the due respect. In the greatest piece of service journalism for my very specific population (pop culture enthusiasts who were holding out on seeing Tár ), The Cut published a piece titled, “ No, Lydia Tár Is Not Real .” Somehow, not having seen the film made these memes even funnier.
Alas, I have no backbone nor courage of my convictions. I did see Tár , the rare film that, in spite of its dangerous hype, actually is that brilliant. Wow. Blanchett? Friends, that is a performance . Did two hours and 37 minutes pass by? I wasn’t sure, because I had floated to a new ecclesiastical state of being while processing such brilliance. My only Oscars hot take is that, yes, Blanchett is obviously the Best Actress of the year and deserves to win, but she has two Oscars already and, based on her speeches this awards season, even she seems to want Michelle Yeoh to win instead—so let’s respect that!
In any case, the glorious news this week is that now you, too, can watch Tár , and from the comfort of your own home. In what I think is the savviest awards strategy this year—this is Hollywood; we must cynically assume everything is strategy— Tár will be available for streaming starting Friday, Jan. 27 on Peacock. I know it’s not usually an impulse to, after a long work week, think, “You know what I could really use to unwind right now? A two-and-a-half hour movie that raises provocative questions about cancel culture and gender roles.” You might scoff at that, until you have beheld the brilliance of one Lydia Tár.
If one were to point to a singular trend across the 95 years of the Academy Awards, it would be, “OK, but has anyone even seen these movies?” Especially in my lifetime (I am a spritely 23 years old), there’s been a refrain of frustration over the organization’s penchant for rewarding smaller movies that most people not only haven’t watched, but, because of how and where they are released, aren’t even able to watch.
One should put Tár in that category. You would be confused if, like me, your social media timeline is filled with entertainment writers and critics (known insufferably as “Film Twitter”) constantly discussing the film. But, despite their incessant tweets about it, it appears that no one has seen Tár . It has made just $7 million at the box office. The only Best Picture nominees to perform worse are Women Talking , which was a surprise inclusion in the list of 10, and All Quiet on the Western Front , a film which we, all together, learned apparently exists on Tuesday morning.
It’s actually an interesting awards season, in regards to what people have and haven’t watched in the Best Picture race. The major headline after the nominations was that this was a history-making year , in that the Best Picture nominees have collectively grossed more than any other year’s list at the box office. And it’s not even on the back of one major blockbuster. Avatar: The Way of Water , Top Gun: Maverick , Elvis , and Everything Everywhere All at Once all performed spectacularly—a rare celebration of populist movies at the Oscars. Or is it?
The list is more bifurcated than usual, in terms of commercial success. It’s The Banshees of Inisherin that made the most money once you leave out those top four cash cows and it only grossed $29 million. Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans only made $21 million. That’s a little alarming for a Spielberg movie; even Triangle of Sadness , from lesser-known director Ruben Östlund, did better, eking out $22 million globally. The box office grosses of Tár , Women Talking , and All Quiet on the Western Front combined don’t even amount to that.
So I ran a little experiment. Say you actually cared enough to watch all the Best Picture nominees this year—could you? I’m going to just assume you’ve already seen the four big money-makers. (Though I don’t actually know a single person in my life who has seen Avatar: The Way of Water , the fact that it has made $2 billion forces me to believe that many people have.) But is it possible to see the rest?
Tár is now streaming on Peacock, which is great news for the gay community fans of Real Housewives , as you can now follow the most recent episode of The Real Housewives of Miami with a viewing of Tár and really soak in a night of film and television excellence. The Banhsees of Inisherin —which is my pick for best movie of the year (apologies to Lydia Tár)—is on HBO Max, and you’d be a fool not to watch it immediately. It’s so good.
Both The Fabelmans and Triangle of Sadness are available to rent through platforms like Apple TV and Amazon. I can personally confirm that Triangle of Sadness is available on Delta in-flight TVs, and it’s the perfect length for a connecting itinerary from NYC to Detroit. (The White Women of Hollywood have also infiltrated Delta; To Leslie is available in the New Releases section too.) And All Quiet on the Western Front is on Netflix.
But Women Talking is still only playing in theaters. Offensive! It is 2023; why are we still silencing women?
While there is always room for complaining, this year’s Oscar nominees aren’t that bad , which is high praise for the Academy. Not only is it (mostly) possible to see the nominated films, it’s actually worth doing so. Watch them all, if for no other reason than so I don’t receive a blank stare back when I start talking about the Oscars at a cocktail party. Happy viewing!
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