Wednesday, October 28, 2009

For Your Consideration in All Categories, INVICTUS

Clint Eastwood is coming. Hide your Oscars!


I suppose you've already checked out the trailer for Invictus in beautiful Quicktime. Soon it will be embedded everywhere in crappier looking formats. The movie, based on this true story, is about Nelson Mandela's efforts to unite a divided South Africa through rugby. The trailer and synopsis suggest that it's a two-lead film as Morgan Freeman (as Mandela) and Matt Damon (looking athletic as Francois Pienaar) work together towards making this happen. Freeman is the mastermind, Damon acts as vessel. But since Invictus is another December Eastwood Oscar lob (oops, that's a tennis term. What do they say in football?) Matt Damon will obviously be demoted to supporting for the pursuit of Oscars.

I'm not quite buying the accents they conjure for Invictus but it is only a trailer and Freeman and Damon are both hugely talented fellows. It's hard to tell about actor's voices in 150 seconds of ittybitty clips anyway. When I first saw the Amelia trailer I was nearly sold on Swank's vocal work but stretched out to 120 minutes it made me ca-razy with its strenuous affectations.

Here are the beloved stars...


It's more and more obvious that there's more community and discussion revolving around movie trailers on the web than there is on actual movies themselves. This is one of the many reasons conversation seems to die on opening weekend. So trailer madness is fitting for any Oscar discussion, unfortunately, since you know that many of the ballots are cast through a complex combination of buzz factors, hype power, the power of suggestion (sometimes literal -- like the precursor awards), industry schmoozing, the general tone of reviews... and film clips! (Yes Virginia, not every AMPAS voter watches all of their screeners, dutifully.)

Check out this random tweet about the trailer.

I think this happens more and more with trailers. Instant love. I can't say I've never experienced that. I remember falling head over heels for Milk in its 2 minute form. I mean there was no movie in sight! It was just a commercial.

Movie trailers are like frozen Buzz Concentrate. Just add water eyeballs. But, that said, it is a bit horrifying that we decide whether we love movies in their larval stage now -- we don't even wait until we get to the theater to see what's emerged from the pupa. At least that how it feels lately, buzz and hype and expectations trumping actual experience.

So I shan't say anything qualitatively about the movie (haven't seen it and a trailer is still just a trailer) except that it looks right up Oscar's alley: inspirational with an overlay of "important!" Best Picture nominee fer sure. Plus, there's the Eastwood factor. Gran Torino aside, he is, to steal from this trailer, the 'master of the Academy's fate, the captain of their soul.'

[editors note: Speaking of Clint Eastwood. The next episode of Best Pictures From the Outside In is coming up next week! "Casablanca and Unforgiven"]


And Morgan Freeman isn't without his own faithful voting block in AMPAS either. With four Oscar nominations and one win, he's pretty far up the hierarchy of the Academy's favorites. Useless trivia alert! One more winning nomination and he's actually tied with Denzel Washington as their favorite black actor of all time.

But what about you? "This trailer made me ___________" -- complete the sentence in the comments.
*

43 comments:

Guy Lodge said...

"...about Nelson Mandela's efforts to unite a divided South Africa through football (soccer)."

Ahem ... you mean rugby. Quite literally a different ballgame! And bear in mind that the term "Afrikaans" only covers one cultural sector of SA's population.

Anyway, this trailer made me wonder how much more enthusiastic I'd be for this if I wasn't South African.

NATHANIEL R said...

oops. i didn't get the sports gene. i can barely tell one end of a field from the other as is evident in my tennis reference for a game of rugby.

so... you diddn't have the same home-reaction as the above tweeter?

julianstark said...

"This trailer made me...

actually look forward to seeing this film.

I was going to see it anyway, because of Oscar prospects. Now I actually think it may be great!

Marsha Mason said...

wonder why Eastwood pics always get moved to the front of the line. I'm still waiting for most my best actress pics to emerge from limbo.

Anonymous said...

A bit off-topic, but isn't Sam Rockwell being underestimated in Oscar predictions? Everyone has loved his performance, he at least has a chance.

Jim T said...

I didn't find the trailer ambitious at all. I don't know why everyone else disagrees. I was hearing it saying "you're going to enjoy this movie but you won't love it".

Robert Hamer said...

This trailer made me predict that this will be the next Charlie Wilson’s War. A big pedigree movie that everyone thinks is the one to beat at Oscar time, but ends up just being pretty good and fairly inspiring and ends up with only a few nominations (though Best Picture probably isn’t out of the question due to the expanded ten slots, it will not be a Best Director nominee).

Feel free to remember this post and laugh at me later if I’m wrong, but that’s my call and I’m sticking to it.

P.S. Can't wait for your Unforgiven/Casablanca installment of BPFOI. I was worried you guys had abandoned that series.

cal roth said...

What about keep Best Pictures... weekly? It's just too great and I don't wanna wait 4 more months to read the next entry.

cal roth said...

Oh, God, my grammar. You could never tell I'm American-born. I left America when I was 4, but, you know, I could do better.

Beau said...

groan.

Guy said...

Nathaniel: Nope, I can't say I did! I guess the events are so vivid in my memory that I feel a bit weird about the whole project, really.

I know this is a completely naive and unfair thing to say, but as fine a filmmaker as Eastwood can be, I can't help wishing the story was being taken on by someone closer to home.

KEVIN M. said...

"This trailer made me..."

Dry heave.

Runs Like A Gay said...

This trailer made me wonder why Matt Damon doesn't take his shirt off more often?

Jim T said...

Guy, I suppose you would like a movie like this to be made near perfectly or not made at all. Right?

Flosh said...

This trailer made me happy that Clint is making a movie with actual sunshine in it. Didn't catch who shot it, but all his recent movies, with Tom Stern as DP, have been *super* gloomy looking.

Aside from that, it looks like it could be fun. It's got the oscar bait "important" vibe, which I'm not crazy about. But hopefully it will be light enough on its feet to actually be, y'know, enjoyable and maybe (shudder) entertaining.

I've noticed the rise in seemingly blind allegiance to movies - especially those perceived as award contenders - based on hype, trailers, maybe festival reviews over the past few years. For better or worse, it's what discourse on the Internet often tilts toward. The Oscar process is now like a sport or a political campaign - people line up according to their biases (for and against) and that's it. Battle lines are hardened, discussion becomes increasingly irrelevent. It's not about art or anything else, it's about wanting your team to win.

Alex in Movieland said...

This trailer made me...

...revisit my Oscar predictions for Supporting Actor. The Matt Damon nom is like so not happening. But who to replace with??? there's NO one!

...miss The Bridges of Madison County

NATHANIEL R said...

Flosh that's what i've been trying to get at and you've stated it so clearly. well done.

it really is blind allegiance. People decide who they want to win before they ever see a movie now. Not good for the future relevancy of awardage. Maybe we should see a performance before we want it to win the gold.

Anonymous said...

I want to lay my head on Matt's chest and tell him how sweet he is when playing rugby.

Daniel Armour said...

This trailer makes me...

... go meh. The film looks okay but nothing more than that. I'll still see it, though, because I try to see all the Oscar - and would be Oscar - contenders. And who knows, it might turn out to be pretty good (I wasn't wowed by the trailers for Atonement or Bright Star, and those turned out pretty well)!

Adam M. said...

This trailer made me smile. There's something lovely about how effortless it looks to be.

That said, it really is just a trailer.

On the other hand, Nat, instead of discrediting the emotional response to a trailer, why can't it exist as a response to art in its own right? The trailer is technically a work of art (some more than others), so why can't it engender a valid emotional reaction-- not to the previewed film, but to the trailer itself?

What about the teaser for 'A Single Man.' Brilliant, no? Will the film pan out to be as alluring and interesting? Probably not. But you can still enjoy the trailer as something praiseworthy and successful on its own.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

The trailer made me feel nothing. Unsurprisingly though I'm not fond of inspirational sports film and I;m generally not a trailer person unless it has Nicole + DDL kissing and Penelope baring all. But that's just me.

Nathaniel have you heard this news about Kristin Chenoweth heading back to Broadway with Sean Hayes?

http://cinematicpassions.wordpress.com/2009/10/28/another-60s-flashback-promises-promises-on-broadway/

Clarence said...

The trailer made me feel spirited because of the music at the end.

Hmm Gran Torino, in my opinion, was so much better than Million Dollar Baby. It's much more interesting and funnier than MDB.

Anonymous said...

I loved Changeling which I give 9/10. Gran Torino was just as good 8/10. I can't wait to see Invictus!

Sijmen said...

This trailer made me think of "Inside", a 1996 film directed by Arthur Penn. That was a bad film about South Africa, and this one doesn't seem any better to me. It looks more like a tv-movie that wants to win Emmies (but won't) than a prestigious Oscar film.

Ms.Berkowitz said...

This trailer made me feel....empty.

Is there a reason I should watch this movie? Besides its hype? Its hyped up cause if the names attached and that's it. They barely show the conflict of the story in the trailer. There is no creativity or originality in this trailer. Its emotionless and uninspired.
Of course its just a trailer but I hate generic looking movies, I especially hate bad trailers for, supposedly, good movies. I can't see someone actually thinking this is a good trailer? What's good about? It seems like something I've seen before. I didn't care for Million Dollar Baby but I did like Gran Torino. Hopefully, I'll enjoy this movie but this makes me disappointed.

Spencer said...

"this trailer made me ..."

yawn, i've said it before and i'll say it again. the fact that eastwood so clearly makes films that are geared towards a specific audience that will, in turn, garner him with attention and awards makes me cringe. where is the originality? or art for the sake of art? instead of art for the sake of oscar ...

Ben said...

this trailer made me...

mildly interested. I should probably see it since it looks like a big contender, but will it be good Eastwood (Unforgiven) or mediocre?

guylodge said...

"I loved Changeling which I give 9/10. Gran Torino was just as good 8/10."

If it's "just as good," shouldn't it get 9/10 too?

;)

Brook Brooks said...

"... about Colin Firth's Oscar chances." This seems like a wrap up for Freeman, if the movie is well-received.

NATHANIEL R said...

andrew -- i have heard that news but i don't like sean hayes (and seeing him on stage didn't change that last year) so i'm not super excited.

spencer agreed but i'm glad you said it not me ;)

clarence & ms. berkovitz hmm. weird. I think Million Dollar Baby is so much better than his last few pictures.

adam i'm not trying to disparage emotional reactions. I just think they shouldn't supercede reactions to movies themselves. after all I did have an emotional reaction to the MIlk trailer.

John T said...

Damon appears to be rather lusty in this picture-trying to reclaim his Sexiest Man Alive title?

Danny King said...

I'm a huge Eastwood fan, but this one didn't exactly blow me away. I wouldn't be surprised if reviews are mediocre come December, although I'm hoping for the best.

Agustin said...

I don't get how so many people like Gran Torino.
Clint plays a cartoon character.
I don't get it.

Arkaan said...

The trailer made me go "ho hum." Freeman looks good. Damon looks all right. The story looks good. I'd much rather see Long Walk to Freedom dramatized, though.

Arkaan said...

Is it really worthwhile to get into this Eastwood argument again? Probably not.

Drew said...

I think it looks like a nice film... doesn't really heighten or diminish my anticipation. I think Matt Damon looks great in it.

That's a really interesting note about trailers inspiring people to unconditionally love the film in advance. For me great trailers often lead to disappointment in the film. The "Milk" trailer was so well structured and full of joy that the film sometimes felt too much like a conventional biopic. Even more extreme was the trailer for "Revolutionary Road", which was so good that I watched it just about every day in the months coming up to the film's release... and the film itself turned out to be a lifeless mess.

Samuel Wilson said...

The trailer made me shrug my shoulders. From all I've heard the movie is pretty much a favor Eastwood did for Freeman and, given the subject, it could have been made by any number of lesser directors. I predict respectfully mixed reviews and a box office dud.

Douglas Racso said...

"... made me fear for the chances of them lady directors to win..."

sijmen said...

Nathaniel, you sould ask everybody what trailer made them very enthousiastic in the past. So yours is Milk.

I absolutely loved the trailers for Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban and The Village. When I saw those trailers I realy thought that they would be masterpieces.

As we all know by now: they were not...

NATHANIEL R said...

arkaan the conversation is a December institution just like Clint Eastwood! ;)

I was shocked to recently remember that Unforgiven came out in the summer.

drew i guess it does cut both ways. But i do think people are becoming more and more beholden to their assumptions rather than their actual experiences, and the odd way films now cycle makes that absolutely organic (years of hype / release that lasts a split second / on to dvd / awaiting the next movie)

Jessica said...

"Movie trailers are like frozen Buzz Concentrate. Just add water eyeballs."

seriously, one of the best quotes. EVER.

Sebastian said...

Morgan's accent sounded kinda spotty. Skeptical. But he's getting nominated, and so is THE CLINT, so moving on to MATT DAMON now. "drools" He's got that "Good Will Hunting" physique going for him that Papa likes! YUM. Did he film this before or after "The Informant!"? If afterwards, then bravo Mr. Damon! I think he's getting an acting nod for this in supporting actor. Not enough for "The Informant!" in lead, but it'll help him in supporting actor.

Anonymous said...

==============================
Clint Eastwood intentionally chose an anti-God title for a film about a Christian
==============================
The Invictus poem is anti-God secular humanism. Invictus was a favorite poem of Timothy McVey who wrote it out just before his execution.

Mandella was a Christian. This movie title is a slap in the face to Mandella. It was his faith that carried him through his difficult life.

The movie title should be based on the poem by Dorthy Day, My Captian. Dorothy Day was a follower of the beliefs behind Invictus until she became saved and saw the ugliness of the Invictus beliefs.

My Captain by Dorothy Day

Out of the light that dazzles me, Bright as the sun from pole to pole, I thank the God I know to be, For Christ the conqueror of my soul.

Since His the sway of circumstance, I would not wince nor cry aloud. Under that rule which men call chance, My head with joy is humbly bowed.

Beyond this place of sin and tears, That life with Him! and His the aid That, spite the menace of the years, Keeps and shall keep me unafraid.

I have no fear though strait the gate, He cleared from punishment the scroll; Christ is the Master of my fate, Christ is the Captain of my soul.