One of the more niche Oscar categories is Best Makeup and Hairstyling, which is one of those that gets awarded early on in the ceremony before any of the really big ones like Best Actress or Best Picture are announced at the very end. But sometimes it’s the technical categories that are the really interesting ones, and this year in particular saw a few very creative makeup design moves, especially when it came to superhero movies.
What a difference six months makes. Back in the summer, the world of film was all gloom and doom. Television was great; the movies were terrible. One respected critic even speculated that someday the world would look back at 2016 as “the year that movies died.”
There are four seasons to a year, but only two seasons to a movie year: Summer, which now starts around late February, and Awards.
The Guardian tells me Hail, Caesar! is the Coen brothers’ “biggest bomb since Intolerable Cruelty” 13 years ago. CinemaScore, which polls opening night moviegoers and translates their reactions into letter grades, gave Hail, Caesar! a C-. Dirty Grandpa
Kung Fu Panda 3 once again led the box office this weekend, but like its lower-than-expected opening weekend, it’s not as impressive as anyone was hoping or expecting. DreamWorks Animation’s sequel managed to fend off a trio of newcomers, but each of those films disappointed in their own ways, leading to a shrug-worthy top 10 that feels like Hollywood just accepting that everyone is going to be watching the Super Bowl instead of going to the movies.
In Hail, Caesar!, the new comedy from Joel and Ethan Coen, Alden Ehrenreich accomplishes a seemingly impossible task: He steals a movie from a cast that includes Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, and two Tilda Swintons. (She plays twins.) Amidst that incredible array of talent, it’s Ehrenreich who emerges as the film’s breakout star, and shares (with Fiennes) its funniest scene, in which a Hollywood director (Fiennes) desperately tries to coax a believable Mid-Atlantic accent out of Ehrenreich’s dopey cowboy, Hobie Doyle. This extended riff, which was already heavily featured in the Hail, Caesar! trailer, is an instant classic from the Coen brothers, and will almost certainly go down in history as one of the best scenes of their entire career.
Brolin reunited with the Coens for their remake of True Grit, and now they’re back together again for Hail, Caesar! a hilarious comedy about 1950s Hollywood. Brolin plays Eddie Mannix, an executive at Capitol Pictures, a major studio with several major problems that need fixing. Chief among them: Capitol’s biggest star, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) has been kidnapped, and a mysterious group known as “The Future” wants $100,000 for his safe return.
This is a good week. Not because tomorrow is Thank a Mailman Day (Thank you, mailmen!) and not because Saturday is Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day (Thanks, whoever thought of this extremely unhealthy idea!). No, this is a good week because there’s a new Coen brothers movie. It’s called Hail, Caesar! and it finds the Coens working in full-on comedy mode, telling the story of a single day at a ’50s Hollywood studio named Capitol Pictures, where a drunken movie star (George Clooney) gets kidnapped and the company fixer (Josh Brolin) has to figure out how to get him back. You can read my full review here, but here’s the tl;dr version: It’s funny and awesome.
Over the course of their 30-year careers, the Coen brothers have made a lot of different kinds of movies; madcap comedies, period dramas, detective mysteries, bouncy musicals, thrilling Westerns, and biting satires. Hail, Caesar! is the first time they’ve made all those different kinds of movies simultaneously. Though it has an overarching story — a movie star gets kidnapped in the middle of a major production — Hail, Caesar!’s Hollywood studio setting offers the Coens the opportunity for a series of delightful digressions. As its protagonist, studio boss Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), wanders the Capitol Pictures backlot, the Coens’ wander through every imaginable style and genre from the American film industry’s Golden Age. Hail, Caesar! features so many different styles and genres, in fact, that it almost qualifies as an anthology film, one that finds the Coens at their most versatile and playful.
January is a pretty dead month for new releases, but February has a few exciting prospects, chief among them Joel and Ethan Coen’s Hail, Caesar! The filmmaking duo are back with their first film since Inside Llewyn Davis, and while it also boasts a musical element, these new clips prove that the Coens’ latest is more comedy than drama.