Lest the fall festival triad of Venice, Telluride, and TIFF convince you that awards season is all but set in stone, the trailer for Babylon dropped yesterday, introducing one of the later-season players and, potentially, a major contender. Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, Babylon has an A++ list cast, including Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Jean Smart, Katherine Waterston, Flea, Eric Roberts, Max Minghella, Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li, comedians Jeff Garlin, Rory Scovel, and Chloe Fineman, plus fellow filmmakers Spike Jonze and Olivia Wilde, not to mention Margot Robbie lookalike, Samara Weaving, and co-founding members of the Pussy Posse, Tobey Maguire and Lukas Haas. Babylon also stars Narcos: Mexico breakout Diego Calva as one of the leads, so it’s a nice mix of neon-lights movie stars and rising stars.
Of course, there is the Brad Pitt of it all, with his multiple lawsuits and that damning FBI report. The headlines have not all been good for Pitt lately, but with awards season upon us and Pitt headlining a flashy period piece, not to mention backing films like Blonde and She Said, he will undoubtedly be working his PR and media connections to massage the message to best reflect on him. Or will, maybe, at least ONE outlet challenge him on the record about all his legal cases and the information within the FBI report? Will ANYBODY run headfirst into that wall of fire, or will everyone keep looking the other way in order to preserve access to one of the last great Movie Stars during a busy awards season for him? LOL, we know what will happen: nothing. The status quo will be maintained at all costs.
As for Babylon, it looks quite good. I like the end-of-days hedonistic vibe they’re working with this trailer. The trailer introduces Nellie (Robbie) and Manny (Calva), a couple of cokeheads with Hollywood dreams. What I love about this scene is you can tell Chazelle has been around cokeheads for sure. There is no worse person at a party than a casual coke user, and Chazelle knows it. Pitt appears to be playing an established movie star in the late 1920s, just as sound is invading the world of silent film. I see the appeal of making a movie set in that era, streaming is the biggest technological disruption to cinema since the advent of sound. There are undoubtedly a lot of parallels to be made. Given Chazelle, the cast, and the historical aspect, Babylon is a contender unless and until it is revealed to be terrible. Not so fast, awards season. We still have a long way to go.