MCN Commentary & Analysis

THB #26: 20 Weeks To Oscar – Pizza’s Here!

Licorice Pizza.

This is the most laid-back Paul Thomas Anderson film ever. Which is to say that you can feel Paul’s willingness to just let it rip. Obviously, there is structure. Obviously, there are clearly considered ideas brought to fruition visually. But there will be no frogs. There will be no surrealism. No milkshakes or powerfully long stretches of silence. No duality. No Phils, no Bill, no cobbler.

This is really Paul’s first movie with a female lead. He came close with Phantom Thread, but ultimately, the woman’s journey there was about learning to help a man come of age. In Licorice Pizza, it’s about the woman and the young man who brings her into her own.

But I am not reviewing the film today. I am writing from the perspective of the award season, still in the process of becoming the throbbing whitehead about to explode all over Hollywood.

Licorice Pizza doesn’t definitively answer the question, “What film is going to win?”

There are 4 contenders left in the starting gate. Being the Ricardos, Don’t Look Up, Nightmare Alley, West Side Story. The Ricardos arrives this next weekend. Nightmare Alley has plunked its arrival on December 1. The other two seem certain to turn up in the 17 days in between.

Personally, I don’t think there is much question that Licorice Pizza is the most complete film currently on display. But that and a nickel won’t buy you anything.

Today, if I had to bet, I would bet that either West Side Story or Nightmare Alley is your Oscar winner. But I have seen neither. I have seen the original of both. If Nightmare is going to be The Movie, Guillermo & Co will have delivered a big leap forward from the original film noir. West Side Story certainly will be different in certain ways coming out of Tony Kushner’s quill, but the bones – the songs – are going to be pretty much the majestic ones we know.

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12 Responses to “THB #26: 20 Weeks To Oscar – Pizza’s Here!”

  1. Doug Pratt says:

    The trailer for West Side Story is horrible. the only thing it says is ‘remake,’ but then trailers are often horrible for movies that turn out to be brilliant

  2. HM says:

    I think you might be right. It would be amazing to see Spielberg’s version of WSS make history as the first remake of a previous Best Picture winner to win the same award 60 years later, so if the critics and audiences love it come December (it will have some bullets to dodge though), I can definitely see that happening. Nightmare Alley looks incredible too and should definitely receive some accolades. And note for Doug Pratt: WSS is NOT a REMAKE of the 1961 film. It’s a NEW ADAPTATION of the 1957 STAGE MUSICAL it is based on.

  3. Doug Pratt says:

    I didn’t say the film was a remake. I said the trailer makes the film LOOK like a remake.

  4. Glamourboy says:

    For Nightmare Alley, it would need to be a whole rethink and the story for the original film is….meager. It is all atmosphere. There is an unlikeable lead character, no love story to care about. It will probably be cool as hell to look at, but hopefully it doesn’t leave you cold, like in the original.

  5. Dan I Humphrey says:

    I’m wondering if some sort of Branagh comeback becomes the narrative. I kind of hope not, because even when people were calling him the new Orson Welles I thought he was overrated, but that seems depressingly possible.

  6. TR says:

    Unless David is right and Nightmare Alley or another late-comer become big players, it’s looking like yet another Oscar year where I’m not too excited about the top contenders (Power of the Dog, Belfast). I’m seeing neither of them. I have zero interest in Belfast and Power of the Dog looks pretty but original. I’ve seen the alternative western that plumbs the depths of toxic masculinity. I’ve seen that movie many times.

  7. Bradley Laing says:

    Oscars Documentary Race Gets Only 138 Entries – 100 Fewer Than Last Year
    With COVID-era eligibility rules tightened up and film production down, this year’s field will be the smallest since 2015

    Steve Pond | November 26, 2021 @ 10:15 AM

    —Is there any indication that of the 138 Best Documentary Features any of them will be about the Hong Kong Democracy Movement?

    —The only reaction to the 14 month long 2020-2021 Oscar season telecast that seemed “big” to me was the PRC government ordering the downplaying of the mainland China press coverage of that TV show, and the PRC government pressuring the usual broadcaster of the Oscars telecast within Hong Kong to not do that.

    —And that was because of a Best Documentary Short Subject nominee the 36 minute long “Do Not Split.”

    —So, has the collection of documentaries from February 2021 until December 2021 a similar Hong Kong Democracy Movement related film?

  8. Bradley Laing says:

    —I just scanned an article mentioning a documentary about COVID 19, and it includes the conduct of the government of the mainland Chinese government during the early stages of the outbreak.

    —I could imagine the mainland Chinese government ordering another downplaying of the Oscar telecast, this time the one of February 2022.

    —But is a documentary about COVID 19 the same thing as a documentary about the Hong Kong Democracy Movement?

  9. Bradley Laing says:

    A question…

    I found a betting website that listed 29 total Best Documentary Feature nominees for the Oscars. The website seems to list 6 documentaries as having better than 20 to one odds. Do the readers here take seriously a betting websites ideas about which documentaries have a chance to win, or not?

    I am not betting money. I am trying to figure out if a Hong Kong Democracy Movement related documentary can reach the fifteen film “Documentary Film Long List” that will be announced on December 21, 2021.

  10. Bradley Laing says:

    I am being cautious here.

    The website is called “Oddschecker.” Of the six movies listed as better than 20 to one of winning the Best Documentary Feature, “Ascension” is the only one about China. That may not include the Hong Kong Democracy Movement.

    Of the 29 movies listed, total, “In the Same Breath” is about China. There are three documentaries about the COVID 19 outbreak, and it is possible that all three will talk about China, in some form. How the Hong Kong Democracy Movement would fit into any of these three, I do not know.

    And, of course, there are the Best Documentary Short Subjects, which the “Oddschecker” website does not cover, at least not today on December 9, 2021.

  11. Bradley Laing says:

    A question…

    A possible ground war between the government of the Ukraine and the Russian Federation is in the news. Of the 138 Best Documentary Features currently being screen to make the fifteen documentary film long list, are any of them about the Russian Federation, or the Ukraine?

    I am sure there is a long history of peaceful, but interesting, things that have happened in both places, some of which would make good documentary film subjects.

  12. Bradley Laing says:

    —for the “in Memoriam” section of the Oscar telecast?

    Tania Mendoza, Mexican Actress and Singer, Shot Dead at 42
    No arrests have been made in the killing, which happened outside her son’s soccer practice

    Jeremy Bailey | December 17, 2021 @ 4:55 PM

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