Showing posts with label Don't Look Up. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Don't Look Up. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The Road to the 2022 Oscars, Part 2. "Who Will Win Best Actor?"

[I review the films "Don't Look Up" and "Pig."]

So far the front-runners for the Academy Award for Best Actor appear to be Will Smith for "King Richard," Benedict Cumberbatch for "The Power of the Dog" and Andrew Garfield for "tick, tick...BOOM!" - all starring in movies I reviewed previously (click on the links for full reviews).

However, I would venture to add Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicholas Cage to that list, who each gave outstanding performances in these two unique films.

Don't Look Up (2021)

A giant comet able to wipe out humanity is headed toward earth.

Writer/Director Adam McKay won an Oscar in 2016 for his screenplay for "The Big Short," a satiric comedy/drama about the financial crisis of 2007-2008.  This time he turns his brilliant satiric mind to global warming, but it could just as easily be about the Covid pandemic.  

Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), a Michigan State University astronomy Ph.D. candidate discovers a previously unknown comet.  Her professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) calculates that it is headed toward earth, that it is large enough to obliterate the planet and will hit earth in approximately six months.  Along with Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), the head of NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office, they meet with President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her Chief of Staff, who just happens to be her son (Jonah Hill), and who keeps sniffing and rubbing his nose for some reason.  The two seem unconcerned about the comet.  

So Dibiasky and Mindy appear on television on a morning talk show, where once again they are brushed off and treated like alarmists by hosts Jack Bremmer (Tyler Perry) and Brie Evantee (Cate Blanchett). Kate loses it on air and becomes a figure of ridicule whereas Mindy is deemed a "hot scientist" because of his looks, which gives him the confidence he had lacked, having been suffering from panic attacks and insecurity. However, despite her initial indifference to the comet, when Orlean is caught in a sex scandal she decides to divert attention from herself to the comet and the decision is made to use nuclear weapons to blow up the comet.

In the meantime, Dobiasky has been silenced and Mindy has been hired as National Science Advisor and appears regularly in the media.  He also embarks on an affair with Brie Evantee despite the fact he has a loving family back home.

Enter billionaire Peter Isherwell, a Steve Jobs-type clone brilliantly played by Mark Rylance who seems to be able to transform himself into any character.  In fact, I didn't even recognize him at first.  Isherwell owns BASH, a tech company.  He also happens to be one of Orlean's top donors and has discovered that the comet contains trillions of dollars worth of minerals so Orlean aborts the original plan and agrees to exploit the comet by fragmenting it and then retrieving it from the ocean using Isherwell's technology. We can't let all of that money go to waste, can we? 

Interestingly, Isherwell's company has such advanced technology that he reveals they can also see every moment of everyone's life right up to how and when they will die. He tells Mindy that he will die alone, which upsets Mindy and gives him pause about the choices he has made, and Isherwell tells Orlean that she will be killed by a Bronteroc. A what?  He said his company has advanced technology but couldn't figure that one out.

So how is the world reacting to all of this?

There are those who want the comet destroyed, those who are in favor of the fragmentation plan because it will create jobs and there are those who deny its existance.  The White House advises "Just Don't Look Up" as in, ignore it and it will go away, just like the flu.  Now Mindy also starts to lose it, decrying the indifference of humanity and ranting on TV that Orlean is downplaying the crisis and ignoring the data.

What will happen?  Is the planet doomed?

Okay, who are we kidding here?  This isn't really about a comet.  It's really all about our unwillingness to ignore scientific data and our indifference to impending doom, and though McKay originally wrote his screenplay about global warming, this could just as easily be a stand-in for the mishandling of the Covid pandemic by the Trump Administration. The movie was already in production when the pandemic hit but, because of all of the political and emotional strife surrounding it, McKay decided to make his screenplay "15 percent crazier."  

Though McKay hammers on the political and governmental side of inaction when faced with a crisis, he also casts a shadow on us humans too, who seem to care more about pop culture, like the break-up of a rap singer and his girlfriend, than our fellow humans and the end of the world. We are so consumed with our own lives and interests we have lost sight of the big picture - doing our part to save humanity. And it's all distorted by social media and the almighty dollar. What should really matter is our loved ones and our human connections. And this is not just about global warming or a pandemic. You can apply this to any catastrophe that involves public health or the need for us humans to give up our particular interests and band together for the greater good.

It's an all-star cast led by DiCaprio, who is no longer that young, handsome baby-faced leading man we first saw in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" and who went on to play Romeo in "Romeo + Juliet" and Jack Dawson in "Titanic."  No, this is a mature DiCaprio - don't get me wrong, he's still killer handsome - but DiCaprio has moved on to character roles, albeit handsome characters, and can be counted on to give Oscar-worthy performances which he does again here (he won in 2016 for "The Revenant.")

McKay who should be nominated for a Best Director Oscar also has fun paying homage to "Dr. Strangelove," "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Lawrence was up for the lead role) and all those "end of the world" movies we have come to love, but don't get me wrong.  This is very much a satire so it's not all doom and gloom.  There is fun to be had, well, fun until you realize just how right on he is.

Note: Don't stop watching when the credits roll.  There is an epilogue and you will finally find out what a Bronteroc is.

Rosy the Reviewer...along with a Best Actor nomination for DiCaprio, Rylance should get a Best Supporting Actor nod and this picture should be nominated for Best Picture.  Why?  Because they all had IMPACT!!! (Netflix)

Pig (2021)

After his truffle pig is kidnapped, a hermit living in the Oregon wilderness must go back to his old life to find his pig.

I have never been a huge Nicolas Cage fan.  Let's just say I totally got why so many comedians would do impersonations of him.  He had mannerisms.  But here all of that is not in evidence as he puts in a subdued but riveting performance as a man who has turned his back on his old life.

Rob Feld (Cage) has retreated to a life alone in the Oregon wilderness, living in a shack with his truffle hunting pig.  He supports his lifestyle, if you can call it that, through Amir (Alex Wolff), a young guy who buys Rob's truffles to supply to high-end restaurants in Portland.  When Rob's pig is stolen, he reaches out to Amir, his only lifeline to the outside world, and the two drive to Portland and enter into the restaurant "underground," a world of secrets and violence.  I mean, who knew restaurant people have their own "fight club?"

Rob thinks he knows who might have stolen his pig so the two stop at Eurydice, the hottest restaurant in town where we learn that Rob was once the hottest chef in town. The chef, Derek, who use to work for Rob reveals that it was probably Amir's wealthy father and restaurant impresario, Darius (Adam Arkin), who was behind the theft of his pig, so next stop, find Darius. 

When things start looking bleak for finding the pig, Rob tells Amir, 

"I don't need the pig to find truffles."

Amir replies, "Then why the f**k did we do all of this?"  

Rob replies, "I love her."  

Enough said.

But it's not just love for the pig that is driving Rob. Reminiscent of Ricky Gervais' wonderful series "After Life" - this is all about what can happen when you lose a loved one, how each of us grieves in our own way and what it sometimes takes to accept grief and loss.  

The film is moody and atmospheric, and when Rob visits his old house, the story of how Rob ended up in the woods slowly unfurls. But the film is not the least bit slow. I appreciated how it got down to business right away. Instead of lingering on Rob's lonely life out in the woods, within 11 minutes, the pig was kidnapped and we were off and running.

This is Cage's film and he gives a wonderful, subdued performance but Wolff holds his own and is equally excellent as Rob's sidekick.

Written by Vanessa Block and Michael Sarnoski and directed by Sarnoski, the film paints a shady picture of Portland restaurant life and shows a very unique and satisfying way to seek revenge.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if he is nominated, I don't think Cage can beat Will Smith or Benedict Cumberbatch for Best Actor but this is a very strange but original and mesmerizing little film where an older and toned down Cage gives one of the best performances of his career. Don't miss it. (Hulu)

Oscar nominations will be announced February 8.

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)