I’ve been sitting here for the past two weeks watching the critics’ reactions to the new films premiering at Telluride and Toronto, with New York yet to come, and the results have been interesting. This is what I’ve been able to glean thus far from the praise and sniping…
- Four films have almost assured themselves major Awards mojo – multiple noms including Best Picture – if the critics are to be believed, and for the first time in a number of years, ALL could be major box office hits as well, as opposed to the sometimes little seen films the Academy tends to favor. Those four films are the Damian Chazelle-directed Neil Armstrong biopic First Man (the trailer for this film is AMAZING), the Bradley Cooper-directed fourth version of A Star Is Born, the based-on-true-events period dramedy from out-of-his-comfort-zone Peter Farrelly, Green Book, and Netflix-distributed Alphonso Curaron-directed epic Roma; all four are scheduled for wide releases well before the end of the year.
- Films with a better than not chance of some major award nods but not as strong as the above four include the new Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight“) film If Beale Street Could Talk, the already much buzzed about but difficult to watch drug addition bio pic Beautiful Boy, Yorgos Lanthimos-directed Queen Anne film The Favourite, the Melissa McCarthy-starring true forgery story Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and actor turned writer-director Jonah Hill’s feature debut, skateboarding dramedy Mid-90s.
- French-Canadian bad boy auteur Xavier Dolan’s highly-anticipated English-language debut, The Death And Life of John F Donovan, crashed and burned upon its premiere at TIFF, with critics scoring it badly and with several calling it Dolan’s worst film ever; as a result he’s once again having trouble securing a distributor in the states.
- Former child actor (“Thunderbirds“) turned writer/director auteur Brady Corbett’s latest effort “Vox Lux” may push Natalie Portman into the best actress race again – picked up by A24, it will hit in time for this year’s contest; the film itself wowed audiences at both Telluride and Toronto.
- Back to “Beautiful Boy” for a moment…based on father and son memoirs about the son’s descent into severe drug abuse and his recovery, the film itself has been criticized by many, but praise continues all around for current “It boy” Timothee Chalamet, who is likely to lead the Best Actor category again this year; the film itself is being called “formulaic” and Steve Carell’s performance as the helpless father has split the critics so the original buzz surrounding the film has cooled quite a bit.
- Hollywood Elsewhere‘s resident scribe, Jeffery Wells, is HUGELY high on the Steve McQueen-directed heist thriller “Widows“, but many of the other critics have stayed silent as yet on this film, although I tend to listen to Wells more than others because I thoroughly enjoy his honesty and his no-bullshit attitude, as well as his willingness to defend his words and actions on a regular basis. So if he says Widows has got what it takes, I tend to believe him (he is also very high on the VIggo Mortensen/Mahershala Ali-starrer Green Book, louder than any other writer thus far…)
More observations later this weekend…stay tuned…