Just before Telluride the rumble was that Netflix was placing most of its award-season hopes upon Noah Baumbach‘s Marriage Story, which has an emotionally relatable story, a well-chiselled screenplay and dynamic performances from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. Not that they don’t respect or believe in Martin Scorsese‘s The Irishman, but that they’re unsure how well a sprawling Lawrence of Arabia-sized gangster film will play with Academy and guild members.
But guess what? All the Toronto Film Festival has proven so far is that other would-be contenders don’t have the poetry or the muscle, and that the field is thinning, thinning, thinning. Which means that the more this or that contender falls by the wayside (and I’m saying this knowing that Just Mercy might take the Toronto Film Festival audience award), the better things look for The Irishman, 1917 and Clint Eastwood‘s Richard Jewell.
I’ve also been been channeling a certain hair-on-the-back-of-my-neck feeling that I’ve shared with colleagues, to wit: Marriage Story, which I totally fell for during Telluride and regard as one of the best of the year so far, may (I say “may”) begin to lose a little steam after regular people start talking about it. Ticket buyers and Academy members, I mean. Because emotionally speaking it ain’t Kramer vs. Kramer. It’ll be respected and saluted all around, but I’m sensing that the emotional reception may be on the muted side. Maybe.
Driver will be Best Actor nominated, for sure, but brave and valiant ScarJo may take a hit for standing by Woody.
Toronto-attending critic #1: “I’m starting to hear people already complaining that Baumbach sides more with Driver than Scarjo’s character. Could be a developing controversy down the road.” Toronto-attending critic #2: “The siding-with-Driver observation is a misreading. A closer reading reveals that Driver’s character is actually in the wrong. But most male critics don’t get that. If you ask me the biggest thing working against Marriage Story (at least as far as awards season is concerned) is the Netflix factor. When it’s ‘released,’ it’s going to go into the Netflix Bermuda triangle.”