Lots of prestige openings this week as we are fully in Oscar season. At least, if not two, Best Picture nominees likely from this weekend.
The most likely is Spotlight (93), getting universal raves. Gun to my head, it’s the odds-on favorite for Best Picture right now. A journalistic thriller (how quaint), it has an all-star cast investigating sex abuse in the Catholic Church. Not likely to be Cardinal Law’s favorite film this year. Alonso Duralde: “Spotlight is that rare journalistic procedural that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as “All the President’s Men,” and while the movie never glamorizes or makes saints of its hard-working newsgatherers, it does stand as a reminder of the power and importance of a free press, particularly in ferreting out local corruption and malfeasance.”
Another sure-fire Oscar contender, at least in the Best Actress category, is Room (86). My review is here. I like the film, wasn’t overwhelmed. James Berardinelli: “Room is honest and challenging but it’s more uplifting than one might expect from a film with such a horrific backstory.”
A few would-be Oscar contenders have proved unworthy. By the Sea (44) a Brangelina vanity project, is underwhelming critics. Peter Rainer: “Both Jolie Pitt and Pitt have demonstrated their chops in far better movies. I suspect the problem here is that there was no one around to tell them, “Please don’t. Please. Don’t.”’
I’m always a little put off by American remakes of good foreign films. It’s as if saying, “we know you don’t like subtitles, so here’s Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman to satisfy you.” Thereby Secret in Their Eyes (46), a remake of the Oscar-winning Argentine film, which is also not thrilling anyone. A.A. Dowd: “Yet nothing short of overhauling the material into something genuinely fresh could make Ray’s Secret feel essential. Tweaks aside, it remains, by in large, the same movie — which is to say, fundamentally redundant.”