The 2023 Oscar nominations were an exciting mix of blockbusters and independent films. One of the Best Picture nominees was Triangle of Sadness — another film taking a shot at the wealthy class. Ruben Ostund‘s black comedy is about celebrity couple Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean), who are invited onto a luxury cruise for the rich. However, things take a turn for the worse during their trip. In a twist of events, the uber-rich end up stuck on an island without any survival skills.
Though Ostund has never been nominated for an Oscar, the prolific director has built a respectable filmography that pokes fun at reality under his unique sense of humor. Everything Everywhere All At Once took home the Academy Awards, and rightfully so. However, given the stacked year of excellent films that came out in 2022, did Triangle of Sadness rightfully deserve its Oscar nomination?
The Story Is Quite Unorthodox
Films taking a jab at the rich is nothing new. In fact, The Menu is also another searing commentary about the wealthy. However, Triangle of Sadness takes a different approach here. There isn’t a particular journey that Yaya and Carl go on. The former is quite shallow in the way she views her relationship with Carl. The latter is determined to change Yaya’s mind so she can see and take him more seriously. Nevertheless, that changes as the film progresses.
Triangle of Sadness isn’t a film about the elite growing into better human beings. It’s a sharp commentary on the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Carl wants someone to love him. Yaya cares about the comments and likes on Instagram. It’s why he falls in love with Abigail (Dolly De Leon), as she’s providing him with more than just sex.
Further, Ostund aims at more than just the phony lifestyles of the rich and famous. It’s documented how none of the rich even have basic survival skills. So, the film goes on to highlight the importance of the working class. Without Abigail, everyone on the island would’ve been dead in a manner of days.
The film itself is quite entertaining because the message isn’t shoved down viewers’ throats. There isn’t a particular name to root for per se, but it’s easy to understand the plight of the main cast. Being on the island exposes the humanity of these wealthy socialites. However, Abigail is no saint either. She knows they need her to survive and uses that power against them. It speaks about how people can change when given any sort of power. Is it a perfect film? No, but it never drags, and the character-driven piece leaves off on an exciting cliffhanger.
The Characters Are The Stars Here
As mentioned earlier, this is a character-driven piece, so it’s crucial that the characters are people worth following. Though it isn’t the typical hero’s journey, Yaya, Carl, and Abigail do develop once they hit the island. The power shift for Abigail shakes up the dynamic between a few characters and forces them to fend for themselves. Each person experiences their struggle in a different manner, and it’s fun to witness overall.
It’s a shame that Captain Thomas Smith (Woody Harrelson) dies mid-way through the film. Not surprisingly, Harrelson is a blast in the role. It would’ve been a great arc for him to be forced to address his drinking issues while stuck on an island. However, the cast is pretty strong overall. It’s tricky to balance comedy and drama together, but everyone showcases a nice range of emotions.
The stand-out goes to both Dolly De Leon and Charlbi Dean. Their characters go through a wave of emotions throughout the film, and the two use their natural charisma and talent to help elevate their roles. Additionally, the supporting cast does a nice job of keeping the drama and reality of their desperate situation high. Some names get more shine than others, but no one ever sticks out in a bad way.
Did Triangle of Sadness Deserve Its Oscar Nomination?
Short answer, Yes. It wasn’t the best film of the year, but the strong direction keeps Triangle of Sadness afloat throughout its runtime. Add in the sharp commentary and fun characters, then it’s a feature worthy of its nomination.