Ladies and gentlemen, it is a glorious day here at The Oscar Buzz. As a massive fan of The Master, the prospects of a new Paul Thomas Anderson film is always met with arms wide open. The news of his latest, Inherent Vice, has been slowly trickling out over the past few months with news of the Thomas Pynchon adaptation being a more comical take from the director who has given us some of the more somber, meditative films of the young century. He is an artist of the truest form and while he isn't prolific, he is always interesting when he shows up. Well, my friends, the day has finally come and the first trailer for Inherent Vice is upon us. It looks like all of the joyous retro goofiness that those set photos have been promising. Yes, it's a glorious day, indeed.
There's a lot of factors at play for why this film receives such high acclaim for me. For starters, The Master was both a film that had a lot of Oscar chances, but it also lost them when star Joaquin Phoenix spoke to Elvis Mitchell for Interview Magazine about how dumb Oscar campaigns were. His inclusion was a thankful sign that he still had good will, though it left me worried that in the future, he wouldn't be considered. While it is true that both George C. Scott and Marlon Brando eventually wrote off the Oscars, they both continued to get nominated. The only question really is if the Academy is ready to get over Phoenix's little grudge and accept that actors are complicated people and that the film should do the campaigning and not a bunch of gadgets and gizmos.
Still, it is fascinating to follow Anderson's history with the Academy. There was no denying the impact of There Will Be Blood, which got him his first Best Picture and Best Director nomination. However, The Master only scored in the acting fields and was almost entirely ignored in general. Maybe it was a blessing that Phoenix snapped because the film could have likely been forgotten much like Cloud Atlas at the time. This may be prevalent to why Inherent Vice is being released, as the trailer suggests, "Just in time for Christmas" (though wide release isn't set until January). It is in that sweet spot that most Oscar contenders come out. However, with director David Fincher's Gone Girl already causing a storm of buzz and is being released on Friday, there's a chance that it doesn't matter.
Still, to look forward on this year's ceremony, there's very few certainties. As it stands, Foxcatcher looks to be the only definite at this point. The problem is that auteurs like Anderson and Fincher's films have an underlying humor to them that may disappoint Oscar voters. This may seem egregious, but considering that last year's winner was the very somber 12 Years a Slave, the prestige factor could overlook the balanced quality. Nonetheless, there's only hope that there will be a lot of interesting left-field options this year. To be honest, I hope that Inherent Vice IS one of the left field options.
Here's the first trailer:
Looks pretty great. From the moment that the trailer opens to Jonny Greenwood's score, it has a feeling of return to Anderson's vision of the world. However, where his last two films have been delved in a sense of maturity, there's a retro feeling that recalls more Robert Altman than many would throw at his past few films. There's interesting characters and a lot of subtle character moments to boot. Also, it feels loosely formed like a more polished Boogie Nights. There's some dark humor and really strange costumes. It feels like a Coen Brothers homage in a way, which isn't entirely a bad thing.
Here's the plot description according to IMDb:
"In Los Angeles in 1970, drug-fueled detective Larry "Doc" Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend."
It's going to be a strange noir film. The feel does have a more laid back Chinatown feel to it. We don't get much in the way of definition, but it does have the 70's charm in tow. The voice over has a groovy cat vibe and the font selection is rather copacetic. Who knows how things will turn out. However, there's too much groove and coolness to it to really fault anything. Much like how The Master used cryptic scenery to introduce its film, Inherent Vice seems to use tone to welcome its audience into this noir universe.
The issue is that while Anderson continually remains acclaimed, his chances at the Oscars have yet to catch up with it. For starters, while statistics website Gold Derby has Inherent Vice in the Top 10 of all major races (Best Acting, Best Director, Best Picture), it isn't a favorable spot for most of them. These stats could easily change as the film gets closer to release. However, considering Phoenix's reputation with the Academy, there's possibilities that this isn't a done deal. Even if Her got nominated, he wasn't in that race, either. Phoenix is a fascinating actor, but one who is frustrating when it comes to acknowledging his career. There's chances that this film will compel audiences, but I do worry that Phoenix burned bridges for Anderson, even if that seems unfair to the director himself. Also, I just want to believe that Greenwood will actually stand a chance at the Oscars this year. He has been overlooked twice for no particular reason.
So yes, I am very excited about this and I love the trailer already. I am hoping to continue to lack bias and not just report on Inherent Vice at every chance that I get. This will be impossible, but the race is just starting up. Things can change at any given moment. Here's hoping that the race is more diverse and interesting than ever before. If nothing else, this trailer will make it easier to get through the season until the film comes out.
Will Joaquin Phoenix ever get an acting nomination again? Is Paul Thomas Anderson ever going to be recognized with an Oscar win? Are films that are deceptively funny capable of Oscar wins in this day and age?