Partly because it’s a better than pretty good film in many respects, partly because it raises a glass to the “old” Hollywood of a half-century ago, partly because it delivers one of the kindest and most welcome happy endings in a dog’s age, and partly because in this era of dominating Disney-owned tentpoles it’s a stand-alone, non-franchise flick that has made a very decent pile of change so far ($123 domestic, $239M worldwide).
Maybe, but I’m of the vague suspicion that at the end of the day Martin Scorsese‘s The Irishman (and I recognize, of course, that it’s the height of recklessness to spitball about a film that I’ve only “seen” in terms of having read an early draft of the script) will out-point the Tarantino.
I have six reasons for thinking so.
One, because, given the skills and vision of a director who’s been at this racket since the late ’60s, it’ll probably be “better” and classier than the Tarantino (i.e., more upmarket, more assured, less Van Nuys drive-in-ish) in terms of your basic award-friendly attributes — texture, focus, story tension, dynamic performances, great scenes, technical prowess, color and pizazz.
Two, because it’s a gangster film that isn’t necessarily out to be a visceral funhouse thing a la Scarface or Goodfellas, and is instead a kind of meditative morality play. And is therefore “serious.”
Three, because the three-hour length automatically qualifies it as epic- or Godfather-scaled — i.e., the standard calling card of an “important”, weighty-ass film. On top of the fact that it took years to assemble and cost a tankload of money to produce.
Four, because it’ll be processed by every digital Tom, Dick and Harry as some kind of ultimate statement about the criminal ethos or community by the undisputed king of gangster flicks…a world-renowned maestro who’s made four great ones (Mean Streets, Goodfellas, The Departed, The Wolf of Wall Street) and will soon deliver what I have reason to suspect could be (and perhaps will be…who knows?) his crowning, crashing, balls-to-the-wall crescendo, albeit in a somewhat sadder or more forlorn emotional key.
Five, because it’ll set new standards for the invisible blending of unvarnished realism and CG wizardry as well as deliver the most visually convincing rendering of the fountain of youth in the history of motion pictures (and tell me that isn’t going to hit every SAG member where they live).
And six…well, this is a bit complicated but I’ll try to explain. The sixth reason is that even the stubborn old Academy farts are starting to realize that there’s no stopping the streaming way of things, and that save for a sprinkling of award-season films released between October and December the theatrical realm has pretty much been overrun by the mongrel hordes, and that other big streamers besides Netflix and Amazon are about to jump into the arena (Apple, Disney) and thereby make things even more exotic and challenging, and that despite whatever perceived threat element Netflix may psychologically present it deserves at this point a Movie Godz gimmee owesie because it’s the only big player (as of right now) that is standing belly to the bar and funding ars gratia artis films for their own merits (like Roma), and because long, ambitious movies Like The Irishman are at a premium right now.
There’s also a seventh factor, and a crucial one at that: Netflix has to cut some kind of deal with major exhibitors (AMC, Cineplex, Arclight, Landmark) in order to book The Irishman into theatres for at least…well, that’s the issue, isn’t it? Potential engagements of 42, 56 or 70 days (or six, eight or ten-week runs)….who knows?
AMC wants something close to a 90-day exclusive theatrical window, even though it was recently asserted by a distribution veteran that “95% of movies stop earning their keep after the 42-day mark.”
The other four Best Picture contenders of note, probably, will be Sam Mendes‘ 1917, Noah Baumbach‘s Marriage Story, Marielle Heller‘s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Greta Gerwig‘s Little Women. And maybe Clint Eastwood‘s Richard Jewell. But The Irishman will take it. That’s how I see it right now.