Licorice Pizza sounds terrible. Not as a film, but as a thing. Licorice is one of those flavors, very strong and sometimes medicinal, that not everyone likes. Pizza, however, is universal. Everyone has their own idea about what goes on pizza, but pizza itself is widely adored. I wonder what it tells us about Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film that it is titled Licorice Pizza? Will it be universally adored, like Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, and Punch Drunk Love? Or will it be more Magnolia, Phantom Thread, Inherent Vice, the odd ducklings not everyone clings to in PTA’s filmography? The odd ducks are among my favorite works by PTA, so I’m kind of hoping it’s the latter.
Licorice Pizza—a title that means nothing and yet none of us will forget—has debuted its trailer on 35mm film in London at the Prince Charles Cinema. So far, the trailer is not online, but its appearance in the wild means that the online version is coming soon. Licorice Pizza returns PTA to the Southern California of the 1970s, a time and place he’s visited before in Boogie Nights and Inherent Vice. (Again, that’s a 50/50 split for the “acquired taste vs. widely popular” debate.) It stars Cooper Hoffman, son of the late Phillip Seymour, one of PTA’s long-time muses. (Cooper joins fellow legacy Michael Gandolfini in stepping into a late father’s shoes on screen.) The film also co-stars Bradley Cooper, Alana Haim—PTA has done a lot of short-form work with the Haim sisters in recent years—and Benny Safdie. The interesting title may be a hindrance with audiences, but everything about Licorice Pizza is sure to grab Oscar voters’ attention.
This also gives BCoop a second shot a trophy. He has a leading role in Nightmare Alley, so that will probably be his priority as campaigns begin, but should that not pan out for some reason, he could fall back on PTA and Licorice Pizza and a supporting campaign. Or he could try campaigning both, it worked for Scarlett Johansson just a couple years ago. With heavy hitters like PTA, Ridley Scott, Jane Campion, Steven Spielberg, Denis Villeneuve, Joel Coen, and Pedro Almodovar with films in the race, this is going to be a HYPER competitive awards season. But it’s also going to be GREAT for gossip. Just imagine a super thirsty Bradley Cooper campaigning twice over, alongside Bennifer 2.0. Truly, the gossip gods have blessed us.