On Facebook this morning Rod Lurie posted a lamentably familiar Joe Popcorn view about Christopher Nolan‘s Dunkirk. Lurie basically said that (a) it’s too brilliant not to be nominated for Best Picture but (b) it can’t win because the SAG contingent will find it too Olympian, too studied and not character-driven enough. Pretty much the same complaints could have been levelled at Barry Lyndon, right?
Dunkirk, of course, is much grabbier and more commercial than Lyndon ever had a hope of being, but the sons and daughters of the peons who spoke dismissively of Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 masterpiece are just as vocal today, sad to say.
“Yes, Dunkirk is a masterpiece,” Lurie wrote. “One of the great war films of our time, maybe one of the greats period. It’s an auteur’s work. Celluloid Beethoven. I saw it for a second time last night on IMAX — and the experience was different. Immersive. Ethereal. Especially in the ‘air’ segments where we were so in the sky that I feared running out of oxygen. And yet… and yet…Dunkirk will not win the Best Picture Oscar.
“Nolan likely gets the directing statue, so brazenly original a movie it is, so arduous an exercise it might have been, but it’s not getting the top award.
“Best Picture Oscars go to character-driven films. Pretty much every time they go to movies that are humanly driven and not necessarily creatively driven. Maybe that’s because ‘human’ movies are actor-dependent and actors are the plurality of the Academy.
“Dunkirk may well be enveloped by the same fate as Apocalypse Now (lost to Kramer vs. Kramer), Avatar (beaten by The Hurt Locker), Gravity (out-pointed by 12 Years A Slave), and The Revenant (edged out by Spotlight).
“There will be a perceived contest this year between Dunkirk and some smaller film — I dunno, maybe the Spielberg film on the Pentagon papers. Whatever that film ends up being, bet on that one. Too bad, because Dunkirk deserves to be thus cemented in film history.”