Yesterday New York‘s “Vulture” column did an odd thing with its Best Picture predictions list: it put a cross-out line through Charlie Wilson’s War because of the reports/rumors about extra shooting. A publicist friend told me last Wednesday that these supposed extra scenes (reports of which have been denied by Universal publicists) have cost many millions besides.
Last week I expressed a concern about the trailer making War seem a little too jaunty and glib — I’ve read the script and know that it plays differently. New York‘s cross-out makes it clear, however, that others have been unsheathing their knives and looking for ways to hurt this Mike Nichols film on general principle. Somehow, some way, a vague wolf-pack mentality has developed. I don’t understand why, exactly. The star-quality aura of Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts-Phillip Seymour Hoffman casting probably seems irksome to some. Let’s take down the big names, rub their faces in it, etc.
The other New York contenders are American Gangster, Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton and No Country for Old Men. With all due respect and affection for Juno, I don’t think it’s quite as eloquent or touching or humanistic as Little Miss Sunshine. It’s a snappy and soulful film, but it’s a big reach to call it a likely Best Picture contender.
And I think that the New York guys are totally dreaming about Michael Clayton being a comer in this circle. Tony Gilroy‘s film is a very satisfying corporate thriller with a moralistic undertow, but it doesn’t have an across-the board resonance for you, me and your mother’s uncle. As some guy said to Kim Masters recently, it’s not “about” anything. By which they meant it doesn’t really deliver a theme. Or at least, not one that sticks to your ribs. If I’m wrong, please explain.