As I’ve said before, Clint Eastwood‘s Gran Torino has the stuffings of a Best Picture contender because it appears to be a story about change and redemption, which is what most Best Picture nominees are about. But it also seems to have a little built-in momentum because it deals with racism, which has been been a bigger hot-button issue this year than any time since the Civil Rights era of ’64 and ’65.
Barack Obama‘s presidential campaign has obviously brought the issue to the fore. Everyone has been talking about it, particularly with those YouTube videos showing the ignorance and ugliness of rural Americans and people wondering about the Bradley Effect at the polls, etc.
And now a month and a half after the election will come a movie, directed by America’s most esteemed, long-running filmmaker, that will address this subject (if I know Eastwood) in plain, regular-guy, no-bunk terms. In short, Gran Torino may luck out. Just as The Road may not fit the cultural-political mood at the end of the year, it could be that Eastwood’s film will. Maybe. I obviously don’t know anything, but I’m feeling a certain current.
Eastwood was quoted about the plot particulars last week. Nick Schenk‘s screenplay is the story of snarly blue-collar racist, a Korean War bet named Kowalski (Eastwood), gradually working through dark and dismissive feelings about his neighbor, a Hmong teenager who early on tries to steal Kowalski’s ’72 Gran Torino.
As I wrote earlier, a drama of this sort is “right out of the change-redemption playbook.” The only thing that might work against Gran Torino are Academy members scratching their heads about Eastwood’s alleged admiration for Sarah Palin.
In Contention‘s Kris Tapley recently reviewed the Gran Torino script. He’s also posted a couple of Eastwood pieces about the film’s ensemble cast — article #1 and article #2.
The script “has some silly stuff in it,” he writes, “but according to those two pieces, Eastwood improvised on the set somewhat. That’s helpful.”