One of my favourite side stories during award season is watching to see which major movie stars throw their support behind which films and which performers. Julia Roberts comes up a lot in this discussion. She campaigned for Javier Bardem a few years ago and last year she showed up for Moonlight and Brad Pitt.
Earlier this week, Sandra Bullock co-hosted a screening with Trevante Rhodes for Mudbound. Director Dee Rees was there, along with Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, and Mary J Blige, perhaps Mudbound’s most high profile hope for an Oscar nomination. Which, if it happens is awesome for Mary, obviously, but it’s also unfortunate that Mudbound overall hasn’t been picking up much momentum. It was not nominated for a BAFTA yesterday and not included on the Producers Guild’s list of best film nominees. The Producers Guild is, typically, a reliable prognosticator of what the Academy might do. The Director’s Guild announces its nominations today and, if Dee Rees’s name shows up there, Mudbound’s chances look a lot better. But there is some work to do and not that much time to do it. And this is disappointing because Mudbound is widely acknowledged to not only be one of the most outstanding films of the year but maybe of the decade. In her review of the film, Sarah called it a “classic” and she’s not wrong – Mudbound will stand up for a long, long time. In a way that, perhaps, some of the films that have been picking up so much ground this season won’t.
I mean, I enjoyed I, Tonya a lot. And it’s made me think about a lot. Margot Robbie and Allison Janney are f-cking incredible in the movie. The storyline is compelling. But I wouldn’t say it’s a great FILM. It’s a good film with terrific performances but it’s also uneven and the pacing doesn’t always work and, frankly, when the narrative shifts away from Tonya and LaVona to Jeff Gillooly and his band of f-ckwits, it actually becomes pretty ordinary. If we’re comparing film to film, as an overall achievement, I, Tonya, to me, doesn’t stand in the same class as Mudbound. Mudbound is, however, associated with Netflix. Is that the problem?
Steven Spielberg was asked about Natalie Portman’s “all male” directors remark at the Golden Globes the other day. He told ET that:
“There’s also a watershed happening right now, slowly, maybe not fast enough, for women directors. I mean you have Patty Jenkins. We have some amazing women that have come forward, you know Mudbound and Lady Bird. This is a pretty incredible year, and I think you’ll be seeing some nominations. I’m predicting at the Oscars this year for a woman director, if not several.”
Several might be a stretch. This is a cynical as f-ck thing to say but since women have had to satisfy themselves with the bare minimum, if there are any women nominated for directing, it’s probably going to be one. Right now it’s looking like Greta Gerwig. But if only it could be Dee and Patty too.