Oscar Update: Frosty ‘Frost/Nixon’ Reviews and My Early Best Pic Predicts

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Frost/Nixon reviews have started coming out following its debut at the London Film Festival and early screenings in Los Angeles and the early word on the film itself isn’t all that great even if the performances are getting some praise.

Guy Lodge at InContention says it has a “sluggish” first hour and even says Michael Sheen’s performance as David Frost “quickly becomes one-note, offering neither the magnified subtlety or shading to make Frost a compellingly flawed hero, nor the firepower to match Langella’s in the film’s showy set-pieces.” Lodge’s final sentence: “It’s an irony that Howard and Morgan obviously did not intend and certainly should have taken to heart before embarking on this coldly unilluminating film.”

Peter Bradshaw at the Guardian continued the onslaught in a 2/5 star review saying, “Frank Langella rolls over Sheen like a tank in a way that Nixon failed to do with Frost in art or in life… But the performance has no room to grow. Frost and Nixon have no ‘real-world’ encounters: it is like a boxing movie about two combatants who never meet outside the ring.” Bradshaw’s final sentence: “A lot of hot air – but not much real heat.”

Todd McCarthy at Variety seemed to enjoy it calling the film “an effective, straightforward bigscreen version of Peter Morgan’s shrewd stage drama… Frank Langella’s meticulous performance will generate the sort of attention that will attract serious filmgoers, assuring good biz in upscale markets, but luring the under-40 public will pose a significant marketing challenge.”

I would quote Kirk Honeycutt’s review at THR, but as always there is no opinion to be found.

The film did make a bit of a stir in the online critical elite corner as recapped here. The only question that comes out of the scenario is wondering why people concern themselves with David Poland at all?

What I get out of the first round of reviews is that Langella will get his nomination for Best Actor, and will quite possibly win while the film itself won’t be as highly regarded. This should open one of those early spaces saved for Frost/Nixon in the Best Picture race and with The Soloist recently bowing out of contention I am beginning to believe The Dark Knight is edging toward a lock for a Best Picture nomination. It’s hopefuly, but also logical.

Speaking of Best Picture nominations I believe this is yet another opportunity to shill for WALL•E a film many pundits continue to ignore for serious Oscar consideration since the likelihood of an animated film getting a Best Picture nomination is highly unlikely. I bet if Barack Obama was pulling for it there would be a different bit of buzz. However, with the heavy hitters continuing to fall off what is left?

In my individual peek at what will be nominated for Best Picture I currently have Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler and Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight. If I were to do the forward-thinking opinion of such a scenario based on trailers and mild early buzz I would add Milk to that list.

I don’t see how the Academy can ignore The Dark Knight based on how much it was loved as a movie and not just a comic book movie. On top of that it guarantees major ratings and studios should all push hard for it because those television spots they will be paying $1.8 million for will have the eyes they want watching.

As for the films I see on the outside looking for those final two slots:

Of that bunch my gut tells me in reality it will be between The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Gran Torino and probably Doubt. Why should WALL•E be a contender? Well, people seem to like it based on its 96% RottenTomatoes rating and its 93% MetaCritic rating making it the best reviewed film of 2008 on MetaCritic with Happy-Go-Lucky coming in second and The Dark Knight third. Isn’t the fact that 93-96% of the people that see WALL•E like it and collectively seem to agree it is the best film of the year mean anything?

Yeah, I know… Nope, opinion doesn’t mean anything… politics does.