I prefer the idea of Poor Things or Maestro or The Holdovers taking the Best Picture Oscar because they’re such grand buffets…because they combine lavish and concurrent servings of cinematic nutrition and dessert, fascinating novelty and invention in the case of the first two and well-constructed involvement (endless emotionalism and irony, thematic richness, abundant imagination and just-right-ism, and inescapable leakage in the case of Maestro’s ending)…because they flipped me over and held me in their grip.
Oppie on the other hand…that oppressive college-lecture hall delivery and horrible, aching sense of frigid isolation (stuck in that godawful makeshift New Mexico isolation camp and that suffocating D.C. committee testimony room with the killer combo of Nolan’s dialogue and that soul-stifling, cold-eyed, alien-from-planet-Tralfamadore performance from Cillian Murphy, whom I now never, EVER want to watch in a film ever again….please.
I’ve begun to rewatch Oppie on Amazon and the subtitles do help to some extent, but I once again felt caught in a long, punishing endurance test…that same feeling I had during my two theatrical viewings…DEAR GOD I’ll never forget that feeling of entrapment and interior devastation…those volumes upon volumes of dialogue pages and a running-time clock that proceeded at a snail’s pace, only to chickenheartedly avoid the obvious and inescapable climax of those Hiroshima and Nagasaki infernos.
Oppie is obviously a smart, well-crafted, full-court-press film for smarty-pants viewers with greater intestinal fortitude than I, but it killed me to slosh through that Murphy-Oppie swamp…that dense narrative thicket, that after-school detention feeling…wading through a three-hour technical briefing that murdered my spirit and killed my legs and made me feel like Winston Smith’s head in a rat cage…a steady, plodding, scene-by-scene procedural that was always about Nolan saying “I won’t be coming to you because you have to come to ME”…an intellectually freeze-dried process if I’ve ever endured one.
And I’m supposed to feel somehow knocked out, by the way, by Robert Downey Jr.’s performance as the Salieri-like Lewis Strauss and those 16 or 17 repetitions of that outdoor Einstein-Oppie-Strauss scene that Nolan diabolically keeps cutting back to over and over and over again?
I’m glad that Oppie is so well liked and has enjoyed great financial success, and if it wins the Best Picture Oscar…fine.. But it compressed and suffocated and held me down on the wrestling mat, and is basically, for me, this year’s TAR.