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Best Picture Binge - Maestro

Don't you feel triumphant?

Maestro is a 2023 biographical romantic drama film directed by Bradley Cooper, written by Bradley Cooper and Josh Singer, produced by Lea Pictures, Sikelia Entertainment, Amblin Entertainment, and Fred Berner Films, and distributed by Netflix. It stars Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan. The film is based off of the life of Leonard Bernstein. It was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Sound.

"I love people so much that it's hard for me to be alone." - Leonard Bernstein


In the midst of his rise to fame, composer Leonard Bernstein balances his loving relationship with his wife against his sexuality.

The Sweet

Maestro seems to be the Best Picture nominee that people are liking the least. It's got the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score of the nominees and the internet is just eating Bradley Cooper alive ever since there was controversy about his prosthetic nose (and as a Jew, that controversy was ridiculous). All of this led me to believe that I was going to hate this film.

And Maestro is the biggest surprise I have had during my Best Picture watch-through.

The film is worth watching for the performances alone. Bradley Cooper is going to give Cillian Murphy a run for his money when it comes to the Best Actor award, because he just disappears and becomes Leonard Bernstein. He clearly poured his heart and soul into this project. After the film, I watched some interviews with Bernstein just to see how well Cooper portrayed him. And he got everything down perfectly. From the voice to the mannerisms, Bradley Cooper just transformed into Leonard Bernstein.

I also thought Carey Mulligan was incredible. I think she's an extremely underrated actress despite being Oscar-nominated twice in the past three years. She isn't exactly an A-lister, but she's incredible in everything that she's in. Maestro is no different. She has such good chemistry with Bradley Cooper and gives her character a distinct, likable personality with so much subtlety behind her eyes. She's not as obviously incredible as Cooper, but her performance is just as good.

I also thought that Bradley Cooper directed the crap out of this movie. Some of the transitions from scene to scene in this film were so, so creative and just allowed me to get more entranced in the film. The cinematography is gorgeous. The way that he symbolizes the distance between Bernstein and Felicia as they grow apart was so smart. The fact that he was not nominated for Best Director is shocking to me. I thought his work behind the camera was great.

I think those three are honestly the primary strengths of Maestro. It's strange, because if these three were normally the things that I love about a movie instead of loving story and characters, I wouldn't be as positive about it. But the principal performances and direction are so good that they made the movie for me.

The Sour

As I alluded to in that last paragraph, I did not think that the story and characters were the strengths of this film.

It was definitely a different type of biopic, because the primary focus is not Bernstein's music and his cultural impact. The film is about his relationship with his wife. It's a romance. It's not really about his career. And I don't know how I feel about that. On the one hand, I think that that is an interesting way to shake up the biopic formula, but on the other hand, I don't think Leonard and Felicia's romance is all that unique. I do think the story of Bernstein's work would've been more interesting than this story, which is why I'm putting it in the negatives.

I also think that this is a film that loses steam as it goes along. The portion that was in black-and-white was the better part of the film. Once it switches into color, the film seems to have a time jump where it feels like we missed a part of the story. Felicia and Leonard's relationship changes and it feels very sudden. I also thought that the story just became less interesting once it went into color. It's already a relatively slow film, but the slowness becomes a crawl when the switch happens.

Like my positives, I don't feel like I have much to say here. Maestro is a very simple, straightforward film. I feel like there are a few major positives and a few major negatives, but that's really all I have for this movie.

Does This Film Deserve It's Best Picture Nomination?

I think Maestro is a very well made film. I like it more than some films that I've said deserve a Best Picture nomination. However, I'm not one hundred percent sure that it really sticks out as a Best Picture nominee. I don't like Killers of the Flower Moon, but Scorsese and DiCaprio and De Niro making a film about the murders of the Osage makes sense for a Best Picture nominee. I think Maestro is a good biopic, but I do not necessarily think it's a Best Picture-caliber film.

So I'm actually going to say no, Maestro does not deserve a Best Picture nod.

Final Thoughts and Score

I really dug Maestro. I didn't think the story or characters were all that special, but the performances were so good that it makes the movie good.

I will go Savory here. Age range is 13+.


Sweet (Great)

Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)


Fun Factor: 7/10

Acting: 10/10

Story: 6.5/10

Characters: 7/10

Quality: 8/10

Directed by Bradley Cooper

Rated R for language, sexual content, thematic elements

Released on November 22, 2023

2 hours and 9 minutes

Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein

Carey Mulligan as Felicia Montealegre

Maya Hawke as Jamie Bernstein

Gideon Glick as Tommy Cothran

Matt Bomer as David Oppenheim

Vincenzo Amato as Bruno Zirato


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