Director: Ron Howard Starring: Amy Adams, Glenn Close, Gabriel Basso, Haley Bennett, Frieda Pinto Running Time: 115 minutes
Sometimes ignorance is bliss. No matter how honestly one might believe that the Oscars are not the be-all-and-end-all of filmmaking, the ceremony remains impossible to avoid in the world of film. It can be a black hole that sucks in all quality discussion of the subject. Once familiar with the term ‘Oscar bait’, the industry within an industry that farms out forgettable, pandering, dull dramas purely to snag award nominations, it’s a bell that cannot be un-rung. A third, more cynical eye opens. It becomes just a little harder to judge certain films on their own merits, to become immersed in the nuances of an actor’s performance and not the narrative over their worthiness or whether they are ‘due’ their big win. Increasingly, every year the Oscar season also quickly picks out an ‘enemy’ among the frontrunners, from La La Land to Joker, the discussion around the films, quality or otherwise, becomes slightly weighted; talk about whether the films would be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ winners taking on an ethical meaning as much as a qualitative one. The whole discourse can become it’s own self-perpetuating headache.
It’s actually a comfort then, when the Oscar Bait isn’t just middle-of-the-road but rather veers wildly off the road and into a lake where it sinks to the bottom with the rest of the miserable shite. As is the case with Hillbilly Elegy.