This morning I asked a Variety guy who recently attended the Hamptons Film Festival and Mill Valley Film Festival what film seemed to really hit the bullseye. They didn’t show everything and he hasn’t seen everything, but in the context of these gatherings The Imitation Game is “the one that really went over, like gangbusters,” he said. “No head-scratching at the end of it…you come out knowing that you’ve seen a really solid movie about a guy who triumphs despite having been victimized. It works way better than The King’s Speech, and it doesn’t throw you a hook or a curve…it operates within a classic traditional form.”
This, then, is what “they” want. No hooks, no tricks, no curve balls…nothing too unusual or challenging…just something straight and true, a nice 40 mph pitch across the plate that they can connect with. In other words, if Interstellar is clean and conservative and not too weird or curious…if it’s engaging enough without making people feel unsure of themselves…if it melts them down in just the right way and gives them the “big thing”…that good old lump in the throat that delivers some profound bedrock truth about our common experience, that makes you want to hug your father or your daughter…that comfort, that assurance, that touch of a high…if it gives this particular crowd what they want or need, it’ll be Oscar time on top of being a big box-office champ, which everyone believes is 100% guaranteed.