There’s absolutely no question that Damien Chazelle‘s Babylon (Paramount 12.25) is going to arrive with a huge bang at year’s end. Hell, it already has with today’s trailer (although one insider is calling it a teaser).

I’ve spoken with two people who saw a version of Babylon last March, and they both say it’s such a flamboyant, orgiastic, lavishly imagined, decade-spanning Hollywood epic of the 1920s and ’30s (i.e,, Vincente Minnelli meets Fellini Satyricon meets Singin’ in the Rain without the music) that not nominating it for a Best Picture Oscar would seem all but impossible.

You’ll notice that the main Babylon characters are quite the lively and diverse bunch, but let’s boil out some of the snow, shall we?

First and foremost, Diego Calva‘s “Manny Torres” is the lead character…the audience stand-in and neutral observer who’s prominently introduced at the film’s wild-party beginning and is also front and center in the somewhat subdued finale in 1952.

Margot Robbie‘s “Nellie LaRoy” (based on Clara Bow and in fact called CLARA BOW in a 2019 draft of the script) is the strongest or certainly the most feisty and relentless female character, and is likely to land a Best Actress Oscar nom.

The trailer is selling Brad Pitt‘s “Jack Conrad” (Clark Gable-resembling but based on John Gilbert) as a major character, but in fact it’s a strong supporting role. Jack isn’t a constant presence, and he doesn’t carry the story.

Fourthly, current attitudes are such that I’m required to point out that 1920s Hollywood (or 1920s America for that matter) wasn’t exactly known for being invested in equal-opportunity trailblazing. With a few minor if distinctive exceptions (Anna May Wong, Josephine Baker, Sessue Hayakawa, Louis Armstrong) the film industry was largely a white-person fraternity with guys enjoying the upper hand.

The trailer conveys a certain impression of a diverse demimonde (Calva plus Jovan Adepo‘s “Sidney Palmer”, a jazz musician, and Li Jun Li‘s “Lady Fay Zhu”, based on Anna May Wong) but that’s Paramount marketing doing the presentism two-step.

The facts are that Manny, who sounds like a cross between Desi Arnaz and Marlon Brando‘s Emiliano Zapata, is the lead guy (he actually becomes a senior studio exec as the story goes on) while Sidney and Lady Fay are no more than modest supporting characters. Sidney is part of the band in the opening orgy-party sequence, and then he re-appears as a minor player in a film. Lady Fay is an important figure in the opener (at one point she sings a song about eating pussy), and is prominent in a few other scenes.

Olivia Wilde is in Babylon (there’s actually a quick shot of her in the trailer), but Mr. Snitch doesn’t recall seeing her in the version he caught several months ago.