This year already has been so awful for the movie business, what’s left to debate? Seems like everything when it comes to the awards season.
Ironically, most of the films now under discussion haven’t been seen by the public yet. And the ones that could be, on a streaming platform, who knows who’s actually watched them?
The biggest debate today is about Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari.” To me, there’s no question this could be one of the 10 Best Picture nominees at the Academy Awards. “Minari” is mostly spoken in Korean, but it’s an American movie set in Arkansas and has American actors and Korean actors. This is not a foreign film.
But the Golden Globes think so. They’ve ruled that it will go into their Foreign Film category. There’s outrage over this. It’s especially ironic coming from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Many of their members are Americans. They’re not foreign. Crazy.
The HFPA has also taken a comic horror film, “Promising Young Woman,” and moved into drama, not comedy where it belongs. Oy vey. Star Carey Mulligan has a shot in the Best Actress/Comedy-Musical category, but in drama she’ll be out run by Frances McDormand in “Nomadland.”
I’m also seeing the hand of Netflix behind posts that Meryl Streep should get an Oscar nomination for her role in the musical, “The Prom.” Uh, no. “The Prom” is made for the Golden Globes comedy-musical slots. Streep’s Oscar nomination should be for her far more sublime work in Steven Soderbergh’s “Let Them All Talk.” She and Candice Bergen should be heading to lead/supporting Oscar nods from that film, which I’d also be happy to see as a Best Picture nominee.
What’s happening with “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”? The film is a cinch for Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. But what about the actors? Critics groups can’t decide if Chadwick Boseman, the male lead, is a lead, or supporting? Let me clear this up: He’s the lead. Glynn Turman is the supporting actor. And Viola Davis? Listen, she plays MA RAINEY. She’s a lead. She has less screen time, but that is a star performance. And you can’t have the movie without Ma Rainey. Lead.
Meantime, two films from 2021 I’m not hearing about in all this awards talk: Armando Iannucci’s “David Copperfield,” and Rod Lurie’s “The Outpost.”
“Copperfield” is a work of comic genius. Dev Patel is absolutely splendid as the title character. Hugh Laurie is slyly funny as Mr. Dick. But Searchlight dropped the ball on this release in the US. If you’re in the Academy, watch it on a streaming platform. You’ll love it.
Rod Lurie’s “The Outpost” is one of the best modern war movies ever made. There’s an ensemble cast, but Caleb Landry Jones earned excellent notices as Carter, the troubled soldier. I’d hate to think this is all forgotten because “The Outpost” came out on Netflix months ago. If “The Hurt Locker” was Oscar material, then “The Outpost” certainly is.
More to come. But I want to see some enthusiasm for Valerie Mahaffey’s wonderfully eccentric pal to Michelle Pfeiffer in “French Exit,” too. We can’t control what the HFPA does with the Golden Globes. But with the Academy, remember, voters can put an actor in category they wish, supporting or lead. And Academy members are smart enough to do right by their peers.
To that end, I’m not happy that all the actors from “The Trial of the Chicago 7” decided to go supporting. They’re going to cancel each other out. Mark Rylance should be in lead. He’s too British and politely reticent to suggest otherwise. But I’ll say it for him, Lead.