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Licorice Pizza Didn’t Win An Oscar — But It Did Win Our Hearts

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

Sometimes being good, true-spirited, and well-directed isn’t enough for a movie to be elected as movie of the year by the Academy, and that’s clear on Licorice Pizza’s nomination but CODA’s significant and representative win on Best Movie. 

About the director 

Directed by celebrated Paul Thomas Anderson — the filmmaker responsible for masterpieces that changed the way Hollywood interprets art like Boogie Nights (1997), Inherent Vice (2014), and Magnolia (1999), Licorice Pizza tells a love story —  if better defined, it’s a story about love and it’s deep meaning. 

About the movie

The narrative follows the immature 21-year-old Alana (Alana Haim) and her series of mismatches with Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman), a 15-year-old child actor who has big dreams for his future — one of them being to have Alana as his girlfriend. 

The plot revolves around the friendship between both main characters, which is developed after Gary invites Alana to be his partner to travel around as a young actor because he didn’t have anyone to be with at those times. The movie follows the crazy and frenetic adventures that Alana and Gary go through together, and how their trust in each other becomes profound in a way that changes the ‘just friends” scenario that they’ve settled with at the start of their journey. 

Details that overflow love

Licorice Pizza transforms the smallest acts of love or intimacy into an extraordinary thing, making the viewer understand and feel the innocence behind both love birds’ perspectives. Paul Thomas Anderson nails the purpose of the movie by carefully focusing on the idyllic side of each character, transmitting purity in each gesture, holding of hands, simple conversation, or quiet gazes between Alana and Gary.

Spotless directing

Anderson’s piece of work, which had the possibility to become a total disaster if it wasn’t directed with sensibility and intimacy, is a lovely journey to the seventies. Even if you weren’t around at that time — which is the case for most of us — the movie carries colors, songs, outfits, and ambiance that brings a strange but pleasant nostalgia that makes you miss crazy-colored prints, fluffy haircuts, and itchy-looking sweaters without even having experienced it in your life.

Brilliant faces in Hollywood

Of course the directing is not the only highlight of the movie. It would be a waste of creativity and good cinematic gifts if the acting wasn’t convincingly as pure as its directing and as real as their surroundings — and Alana and Cooper did their part of the job really well. Both new to the acting world, the duo makes love feel like the easiest and hardest thing to accept in their lives at the same time. 

“I’m not going to forget you. Just like you’re not going to forget me.”

Another high point in the movie for me is Bradley Cooper’s exquisite performance. Although he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, Golden Globe, or a Critic’s Choice Awards — which I think it’s almost criminal — his representation, humor, and charisma in the seven minutes of his screen time are pure acting gifts. With his notable monologue — one of the best ones so far in this award season, he captures everyone’s attention. In my vision, he will continue to be the real supporting role nominee and winner.  

In conclusion…

PTA is an amazing director, and this movie shows it loud and clear. Licorice Pizza is as “fairytaily” and subtle as everyone’s first crush on someone, and that feeling persists until the credits roll up the screen. It feels, sounds, and looks just like a first love glance: and that’s the magic in this movie. Even though the picture doesn’t bring important causes to the spotlight, just like CODA or The Power Of The Dog shine in representability in sensible themes, it sure brings real feelings to screen — and they brought it to my heart. What a movie. 

Where to watch it

Licorice Pizza is available to rent or buy on US Amazon Prime Video service, US Youtube Movies, US Vudu, and, in Brazil, exclusively available in movie theaters all over the country.

The article above was written by Gabriela Antualpa and edited by Julia Bonin. Liked this type of content? Check Her Campus Cásper Libero.

Gabriela Antualpa

Casper Libero '25

Journalism student, passionate about writing ever since I touched a book for the first time. Always interested in learning new things and - most of all - talking and writing about them. Contact me here: gabrielantualpa@gmail.com