Out of respect for the great Ridley Scott it would appear that Napoleon (Apple, 11.22) is finished as a would-be Oscar contender, and that Joaquin Phoenix‘s Best Actor chances are not just dead in the water but over the waterfall and banging against the rocks.
Pay no attention to the industry whores who are praising Scott’s film to the heavens. They’re just not being honest. Half-and-half responses are okay however.
The film includes a height joke or two, but very little is made of Napoleon’s short stature (he was somewhere around 5’6″ or roughly Alan Ladd‘s size) or, for that matter, the psychology of the Napoleon complex (i.e., short guys aggressively trying to compensate). The fact that Phoenix stands around 5’8″ doesn’t seem to matter either way.
I’m still recommending that interested parties give Marlon Brando‘s Napoleon Bonaparte a whirl. Henry Koster‘s Desiree (’54) is a mediocre costume epic, yes, but in a certain laborious, stiff-necked way it’s almost more tolerable than Scott’s film.