David Fincher‘s Zodiac “is another movie that isn’t gaining Oscar momentum,” writes Variety‘s Anne Thompson. One reason this hasn’t happened is that good journalists like Thompson have been dismissing its Oscar chances all along. She acknowledges it was “well-reviewed last summer” (despite having opened last March) and that “many critics may include it on their ten-bests,” but says “its time has come and gone.”
Thompson is probably right, but I take no satisfaction in admitting this. If this racket has taught us anything, it’s that conventional industry wisdom is truly the poison mist floating across the lake. Besides, Zodiac isn’t “done” the way Thompson says it is. It’s back on the stove and the water is heating up. The director’s cut DVD has been sent out, Fincher will be doing a q & a following an 11.29 Variety Arclight screening of this, and Paramount is paying for trade and online ads here and there. If enough people jump in, the ball could stay in the air.
Thompson and others have written it off because it “was an expensive big-budget studio failure,” it doesn’t unfold according to the rules of your father’s police procedural, and because hunt-for-a-serial-killer movies, even art-film variations like Zodiac, don’t seem deep or moving enough to qualify as Oscar bait.
None of these observations consider what some regard as a simple fact and others as a growing realization, which is that Zodiac is the Best Film of 2007. I for one have begun to believe it is that, and it only took me seven months to get there.
Thompson says Zodiac “is indulgently long,” which it emphatically is not. Given the hall-of-mirrrors, obsession-within-an-obsession scheme, it could actually stand to be a bit longer.
“Fincher’s insistence on verisimilitude meant not giving viewers a satisfying narrative arc,” Anne writes. Wrong again. Zodiac has an immensely satisfying arc according to its own termite-art rules. It operates on such a profoundly original high-altitude plane that even I didn’t really understand what it was finally up to until I’d seen it the second time. (Or was it the third?)
“The movie has its merits — hell, it will be on my ten best list — but an Oscar contender needs to have enthusiastic supporters, few detractors and a passionate push behind it,” Thompson concludes. “It needs confidence, and Zodiac has too many deficits.”
And by this logic, it is implied, astute industry watchers would do well to get off the Zodiac train and start facing the fact that truly valuable and timeless contenders like Juno are the ones with a real shot at making Oscar history. Good. Fucking. God.