If Boogie Nights is, at least in part, about the triumph of commerce over art and There Will Be Blood is about the triumph of commerce over religion in the American psyche, I think it’s fair to say that Phantom Thread is the Paul Thomas Anderson film in which commerce has finally met its match: love does indeed conquer all.
The problem with writing seriously about the Golden Globes is that it’s a fundamentally unserious enterprise, one in which winners are chosen by a few dozen ciphers whose outsized power leads to all sorts of whispers about corruption and celebrity suck-uppery. I know, I know: in Hollywood, it’s rarely about merit so why should the awards be any different? But still, the Golden Globes is especially egregious in its chicanery.
I think it’s fair to say that All the Money in the World will be remembered as an oddity, first and foremost. It may end up being the apotheosis of the #MeToo movement’s influence on Hollywood, a major film whose backers were so spooked by rumors of sexual misconduct that millions were spent on reshoots so an actor in it could literally be erased from the picture.
In the latest Substandard, JVL and I bravely soldier on after being abandoned by Vic, who “wanted to take an extra week off so he didn’t go insane.” And boy, is his absence felt! What a dreadful episode. Please don’t hold it against us if you choose to rate or review the show this week, of all weeks.
Anyway, after the embed, I wanted to offer some of the reasons why Vic was so missed this week. He’s really a great guy, it’ll be a shame if we have to kill the show because he quits.
Of all the trends in year-end pieces this December, the most annoying is the one typified by the first sentence of the AV Club’s wrap up: “Bad movies were the least of anyone’s problems in 2017.” This is true literally every year—no one’s most pressing problem has ever been spending $15 on The Emoji Movie—and so fatuously self-congratulatory in our current moment. We get it, you think the United States has devolved into an authoritarian hell-scape where the weak are ground into paste and fed to the Koch Brothers’ dogs. This decrease in surplus population and the vile capitalistic use to which it has been put, I presume, helps explain why the unemployment rate is at a 17-year low and the stock market is at an all-time high.
The Last Jedi feels cobbled together from bits and pieces of The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi: we get training sequences in a remote location headed by a reticent Jedi master; we get trench battles featuring hopelessly outnumbered rebels facing down AT-ATs; we get a final duel in the throne room of a star ship as a hero of the Alliance watches her fleet be destroyed, her allies snuffed out hundreds at a time. And I probably could have lived with that, to be totally honest, if it wasn’t for the fact that writer/director Rian Johnson also borrows from the prequel trilogy’s shoddier storytelling impulses and action set pieces.
In the latest Substandard (subscribe/review, unless you want Vic to quit; if we don’t make it to 500 reviews by the end of the year I can’t see him signing up for another tour), Vic, JVL, and I discuss, um, watches, before moving on to Darkest Hour (I liked it; JVL did not; Vic was mixed) and Gary Oldman. I’ve made my case for Oldman in Darkest Hour elsewhere, but what I’d like to do here is use the medium of the blog post to more fully praise his career. What I mean by this is, rather than writing an essay or putting up some listicle with capsule reviews from his years onscreen, I think we can use the form of the blog post a bit more creatively to take a tour through his career—to fully experience his range and the breadth of his transformations. When people say “character actor” they sometimes mean “that guy I recognize from a bunch of movies.” But Oldman is rarely recognizable. And he’s never the same twice.
(Notably absent from this montage: Tiptoes.)
So, after the embed, let’s take a peek at Gary Oldman: A Career in Gifs.