Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neil has asked the usual panel of Oscar experts to spitball their Best Picture predictions. Except he hasn’t created an experts chart so I’ll pass for now. I’ll say four things. One, a couple of films on this list of twelve haven’t a chance. Two, Peter Farrelly‘s Green Book may need to be added — we’ll see. Three, Spike Lee‘s BlackKKlansman is in because Spike’s been slamming hits for 35 years without an Oscar, much less a Best Director nomination, to show for it. And four, it’s probably going to boil down to Roma vs. The Favourite vs. Backseat vs. A Star Is Born. Or something like that.
Posted on 1.22.18: Earlier today I saw Amy Scott‘s Hal, a smart, comprehensive doc that sent some mixed signals. By which I mean it could or should have been a little tougher than it is. I’m not saying that a director pulling his or her punches is a great crime, but viewers can always sense when they’ve done this.
The story of Hal Ashby‘s Hollywood career — assistant editor in the ’50s, Norman Jewison’s editor in the ’60s, influential director of seven great films in the ’70s, an angry and declining director of mediocre films in the ’80s — is exhilarating, colorful and not, if you’re going to be honest (as Nick Dawson‘s “Being Hal Ashby: Life of a Hollywood Rebel” was and is), altogether tidy or pretty.
My sense of Hal, as much as I enjoyed it, is that every so often it’s a little too gentle.
Scott has covered the chapters in dutiful form, and spoken to a few people who really loved and admired Hal, or at least worship his legacy. Her film moves right along, pushes more than a few emotional buttons, and makes you feel as if you’ve come to know the guy pretty well. I liked it just fine, but a little voice kept whispering that Scott has softballed the extent of Ashby’s cocaine and booze problems during his career-decline period.
Yes, he rarely slept and probably worked harder than anyone, and he had an awful time with the corporate-minded studio heads in the ’80s (particularly with Lorimar). A lot of stress and struggle. I’m not saying Ashby was a total druggie, but no one dies at age 59 unless they’ve been doing something to hasten their decline.
With any kind of half-fair perspective, Ashby’s decade of ’70s glory definitely out-classes and outweighs the tragedy of the ’80s and how the derangement of nose candy enveloped and swallowed the poor guy. But you have to get into that downswirl stuff a little bit.
Scott’s film isn’t hagiography, but my sense is that roughly 90% is a touching, fascinating, no-holds-barred, this-is-who-he-really-was portrait and the other 10% is a little blowjobby here and there.
Facebook avatars lie. Check people’s browsing histories for the truth. Honest admission: At least three or four times per week I watch videos of African grazing animals being chased and eaten alive by wild dogs, hyenas, lions and cheetahs. I don’t know why. Maybe on some level it blows off steam or something.
Don’t let Joe Carnahan and those Collider guys lead you down the garden path. IMAX or no, they’ll be watching a Warner Home Entertainment abomination — a urine-and-teal-tinted version of Stanley Kubrick‘s 1968 classic. Full disclosure: Despite the reprehensible color scheme, I’ll be paying to see this version on IMAX because I’ve never see it projected in this format, especially in “real” super-size IMAX. I hate giving my money to the Nolan, but I’m compelled.
The neutral colors in the above option is the way this scene should look — the yellow tint is a Nolan creation.
The little kid on the raft being eaten in Steven Spielberg‘s Jaws was a pretty good visual trick, but that was it. Ditto Robert Shaw howling and coughing up blood as the shark bit into his mid-section. I felt badly about Bambi’s mom being shot, but the rabbit getting snatched by a hawk in Watership Down…meh. Okay, Diane Keaton‘s murder in Looking For Mr. Goodbar was rough stuff, but it arrived at the very end of a film that I’d stopped trusting at least an hour earlier. Alderaan blowing up in Star Wars was nothing — a large, slow-motion sparkler on a warm summer’s evening.
Honestly? I felt a little bit traumatized by Ruth Wilson‘s sudden death in The Affair, although I haven’t been watching that Showtime series with any consistency.
Glenn Close is definitely going to be Best Actress nominated for The Wife and she actually may win this time. The film is a solid double-A quality package — a tidy, well-ordered, somewhat conservative-minded, theatrical-style drama. Some may say it’s a little too stagey, a little too deliberate, but it’s as good as this sort of thing gets. It satisfies, add up, delivers. Will the New Academy Kidz fall in line? They should. Brilliant acting is brilliant acting.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Jon Frosch wrote that Close’s performance as the wife of a Nobel Prize-winning author (Jonathan Pryce) is “like a bomb ticking away toward detonation” — perfect. But she’s not just playing her husband’s better in terms of talent and temperament. She’s playing every wife who ever felt under-valued, patronized or otherwise diminished by a swaggering hot-shot husband along with their friends and colleagues as well as — why not? — society as a whole.
I saw The Wife at the Paris last night. The crowd whooped and cheered, and then Close and original “Wife” author Meg Wolitzer sat for a 20-minute q & a. There wasn’t a person in the crowd under 55. The over-55 Academy contingent is going to vote for Close en masse, no question. Over the last 30-plus years she’s been nominated for six Best Actress Oscars (The World According to Garp, The Big Chill, The Natural, Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs) without a win — this will be the clincher.
Given all this, it’s shocking that the N.Y. Times gave The Wife a piddly three-paragraph review, which is basically their way of saying “meh, not bad, marginal fare, not very important.” Very curious for a film with a 93% Rotten Tomatoes score