In a “Premature 2015 Best Picture Oscar Predictions” piece, Indiewire‘s Oliver Lyttleton has listed Carey Fukunaga‘s Beasts of No Nation as a highly likely Best Picture contender if it had any chance of being released this year. Except this seems unlikely as the film, an adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala‘s violent Africa-set novel, will only begin filming later this month. Lyttleton is all woo-woo because Fukunaga directed all eight episodes of HBO’s True Detective and he’s figuring the director of the masterful Sin Nombre is on a roll.
Lyttleton acknowledges that Beasts contains “material that threatens to be difficult to watch, but prognosticators worrying about that sort of thing have been proven wrong more than once of late (nominations for Amour and 12 Years A Slave winning), and a supporting role for Idris Elba should help bring in some eyes, plus this year’s race (so far) is rather lacking in ‘important fare.'”
Consider these summary excerpts of Iweala’s novel from Publisher’s Weekly and The New Yorker, to wit:
Publisher’s Weekly: “Iweala’s visceral debut is unrelenting in its brutality and unremitting in its intensity. Agu, the precocious, gentle son of a village schoolteacher father and a Bible-reading mother, is dragooned into an unnamed West African nation’s mad civil war — a slip of a boy forced, almost overnight, to shoulder a soldier’s bloody burden. The preteen protagonist is molded into a fighting man by his demented guerrilla leader and, after witnessing his father’s savage slaying, by an inchoate need to belong to some kind of family, no matter how depraved. He becomes a killer, gripped by a muddled sense of revenge as he butchers a mother and daughter when his ragtag unit raids a defenseless village; starved for both food and affection, he is sodomized by his commandant and rewarded with extra food scraps and a dry place to sleep.”
New Yorker: “Iweala’s acute imagining of Agu’s perspective allows him to depict the war as a mesh of bestial pleasures and pain. As seen through Agu’s eyes, machetes sound like music, and bodies come apart on roads so cracked that you can see ‘the red mud bleeding from underneath.’ Agu has a child’s primitive drive that enables him to survive his descent into hell, and, despite the brutality he witnesses and participates in, to keep hold of something resembling optimism. The contrast between his belief in the future and the horrific descriptions of the world around him makes Agu a haunting narrator.”
Honestly, seriously, really, c’mon…no matter how riveting or powerful or well-reviewed it turns out to be, Fukunaga’s Beast of No Nations is not going to get within 150 miles of any Best Picture laurels from anyone…trust me. A protagonist who slaughters a mother and her daughter with a machete and then gets ass-raped by his commandant…sure thing. Will Hans Zimmer compose the score?