Oscar buzz and predictions are building ahead of the Golden Globes, which are traditionally used as a gauge of what will most likely be among the Oscar nominations. The Globes are slated for January 6th, 2020 and the Oscar’s, a.k.a. 91st Academy Awards telecast is on Sunday, 24 February.
Some of the films that are getting the most buzz and are favored to be in the running can be seen by peeking at the trailers (with links to our in depth articles) below:
New Zealand director Taika Waltiti’s movie “Jojo Rabbit” was released October 18th. The critic’s reactions have been positive, and the film won the Toronto Film Festival audience award putting it in line, if past years winners are any indication, for a possible Oscar nod. Waititi was also awarded the Festival’s new Ebert Director Award.
Waltiti is known for directing wacky comedies such as “What We Do In The Shadows,” “Hunt For The Wilderpeople,” and the borderline parody Marvel hit, “Thor: Ragnarok.” His latest film, “Jojo Rabbit” follows this same vein of outrageous, yet charming humor, but there is one key difference… “Jojo Rabbit” focuses on Germany’s Nazi party during World War II, making its hilarity just a touch more complicated.
More specifically, “Jojo Rabbit” is about a young boy in the Hitler Youth. Like many German kids of the time, he aspires to be a Nazi soldier when he grows up. He buys into the party’s ideologies and believes their propaganda. That is until he comes face to face with a Jewish girl and learns, despite what the Nazis have taught him, that she is harmless, pleasant, and appealing.
On the surface, the premise seems like the bones of a complex and sophisticated historical drama. With Waltiti behind the camera, though, such is obviously not the case. Instead of dry historical accuracy, Waltiti makes the Hitler Youth look like a summer camp filled with likable children and goofy leaders. Most boldly perhaps, Waltiti himself plays Adolf Hitler in the movie, but rather than depict him as the brutal dictator that he was, Waltiti makes him out to be the kind-uncle archetype, a socially inept, hilarious motivator and idol for the children in the story.
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino has had success with his ninth movie, “Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood”. In a slight departure from his stark early 70s styled crime dramas, this time Tarantino pays homage to the late- 60’s genre and his love for his hometown, Los Angeles.
The film takes place in 1969 Hollywood, amidst the chaotic events of that year, including the infamous Manson Murders. Much like The Altamont Free Concert, as chronicled in the film Gimme Shelter (with it’s high profile murder during the show), the gruesome, violent Manson murders are often cited as an historical moment marking the end of the free love 60’s and a pivot towards the darker times in the me decade of the 70’s.
The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton, as an actor on a Western television series alongside Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth, Dalton’s stuntman. The two work and live closely together as they carry out their urban cinematic adventures. The characters and their friendship are said to be based on 70’s icon Burt Reynolds and his stuntman Hal Needham.
Even before seeing “Joker” the origin-story from Warner Brothers, there is a sense that this is an epic not easily categorized within the Comic-Book movie genre.
Starring Joaquin Phoenix (Oscar nominee for “Walk the Line”, “The Master” and “Gladiator”), directed and co-written by Todd Phillips (“Borat” and “The Hangover Trilogy”) and with Robert De Niro (as TV host Murray Franklin), the focus on how Arthur Fleck becomes “Joker” screams a muted, uneasy tension, that’s oozing from every pixel revealed so far.
In “Joker”, Batman’s Gotham City is a cesspool of dirt and depravity where Arthur appears doomed to live and die encircled with nothing but depression and humiliation. Mentally Ill and mercilessly tortured by the “sane” members of society all around him, he finds some respite in his chosen career of clown-for-hire and hopeful comedian wannabe by night.
The potential for the story to transcend the genre of Comic book heroes and villains is hinted at in the placard with the words “we are all clowns” scrawled on it, that can be seen in a flash, about halfway through the new trailer (above).
Followed by scenes showing mobs of clown-mask-wearing demonstrators / rioters (shades of anonymous, Guy Fawkes, Antifa and Hong Kong), there’s an implication that an anti-social movement is growing up around, and identifying with, the anger and twisted humor of the emerging “Joker” super-villain character.
The real life parallels to the fictional world of Gotham City and the way many could relate, after having suffered similar fates to those that produced the madness into which Arthur descends, are scary, already in previews, and could portend a film that is not only horrifically entertaining, but thought provoking, when seen in the shadows of current events and today’s zeitgeist.
In the wake of so many “uplifting” but heavily computer assisted films where Comic book superheroes battle cartoon villains (and each other) the emphasis on live action grit and human emotions and failings is, at first look, refreshing and terrifying (in an interesting way), and that seems to have hit a nerve with the general public, judging from the $1 billion plus bos office take so far.
Ford v Ferarri
From “Logan” and “Walk The Line” director James Mangold, “Ford v Ferrari” follows the true story of American engineer Carroll Shelby who is solicited by Henry Ford II to build a car that can beat Ferrari at the 1966 Le Mans World Championship in France. Shelby, determined to complete Ford’s ambitious task, insists on putting the wild and loose British driver Ken Miles behind the wheel. What ensues is the fast-playing tale of a couple eccentric and erratic people infiltrating a world filled with professional industrialists to take on the impossible.
Matt Damon plays Shelby in the film and Christian Bale as Miles. Rather than one being the lead and the other being a supporting role, both actors are co-leading the film, making them both eligible for Best Actor in a Leading Role nominations at the Oscars come February.
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