Trophy Talk: Let’s Talk About ‘Interstellar’
People love watching famous people accept trophies. So, every so often, The Huffington Post’s Chris Rosen and ScreenCrush’s Mike Ryan will speculate about these trophies and which famous person might win one. It will be fun. Let’s talk some trophies! Today, we discuss Christopher Nolan's new potential blockbuster, 'Interstellar.'
Mike: Are you surprised by the tepid reaction to 'Interstellar'?
Chris: Well, not really! Consider the hype: The first 'Interstellar' trailer was released in May. The film's screenings have been kept under a lock and key so tight that even David Fincher might argue it was too much. In a year where we're all waiting for an Oscar favorite to step forward, 'Interstellar' was positioned as both a great awards hope and a massive blockbuster. So the deck was stacked against it from the start (here's where I say that while the critic character in 'Birdman' is an arch stereotype, the idea that a reviewer would have some kind of preconceived notion and prejudice about a movie or play before going in to see said movie or play is scarily accurate). I liked 'Interstellar' more than you, but I understand why you didn't like it as much as I did. In fact, most of the middling reviews for this one are reasonable. There are flaws in this "masterpiece," but I still enjoyed the ride and the performances.
Mike: And I still liked it. If I had to assign it a letter grade, I'd give it a B. I honestly don't think anyone goes into a movie wanting to not like it -- who wants to sit though a bad movie? Life is too short -- but I do think, as you say, they've made the screening situation a, let's say, somewhat irritable situation that could leave someone thinking, Wait, this is it? I do think preconceived notions exist, it's impossible not to have them, but a good movie can overcome those -- look at 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes.' HAVING SAID ALL THAT, I don't think that has anything to do with the reviews we are seeing for 'Interstellar.' Even some of the more positive reviews just sound so disappointed. Like their kid went to the big track meet and didn't win the medals he or she was supposed to, but darned if he or she didn't try her best, so it's hard to be upset ... just disappointed.
Chris: And yet, for trophies, I don't think the disappointment matters all that much. Before seeing 'Interstellar,' I thought it wouldn't get a Best Picture nomination -- space, Nolan, etc. -- but now I think it's locked in. With preferential balloting, a nomination is relatively easy to score: Only five percent of AMPAS members need to place a movie at the top of their ballots to have it earn a nomination. That's, like, 200 people. Two-hundred people will LOVE 'Interstellar' enough to get it through the process.
Mike: I agree. And it's been kind of "slotted" as a Best Picture nominee for so long, it would take a lot to knock it out. And, like we said, it's still a good movie, just not quite the ... well, what were we hoping for? When the first trailer hit, it really looked like we were in for "something special." I think I might have even said that out loud, "this looks like something special." I have no idea what that even means. What was I looking for? Did I think 'Interstellar' would fill some sort of void in my life that had always been missing? I don't think so! Did I enjoy myself while watching 'Interstellar'? For the most part -- save for a 20-minute stretch of a three hour movie -- yes, I did. But, to be fair to myself, the marketing of 'Interstellar' presented itself as important, so I thought something important was going to happen. And nothing important happened because, in the end, it's a movie -- a movie that features a fistfight on an alien planet that involves booster rockets. (Pew pew.) So, how is that for preconceived notions?
Chris: You know what I did expect? Something weirder. This is odd to say because of all the spoilery stuff we can't talk about here, but since everyone compared it to ‘2001,’ I just assumed it would be more of a head-trip. In fact, it's pretty straightforward. This is Nolan doing SPACE, but with echoes of 'Signs" and 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind.' It's Spielberg without Spielberg. And now that we're chatting about it, I almost think it could win Best Picture. It won't, probably, but the fact that it's not too "weird" or even "divisive" positions it better than a movie like 'The Wolf of Wall Street,' which had fierce defenders and detractors. Middle-ground wins Best Picture, and maybe 'Interstellar' is the year's most middleground picture. But let's broaden the scope: What other nominations is it getting? Certainly a bunch of technical nominations, but do you think any of the actors -- all of whom do so much acting -- have a shot?
Mike: Can the fun robot, TARS, be nominated? If not, I do not think there are any acting nominations here. And I think the gravity from the black hole has warped your mind if you think that it can win Best Picture. It's been hovering in the 60s on Rotten Tomatoes since the reviews hit (checking right now, it sneaked back up to 70). I agree that I also thought it would be weirder -- it really is almost strangely straightforward -- but it's also not really a crowdpleaser. It's not a downer, but you don't leave with that 'Argo' or 'Whiplash' boost of energy that you had hit on before. I think that's the key for a movie like this to have any chance. It's a weird movie year: there are a lot of really good movies, but there's no head and shoulders above the rest great movie. I think a lot of people were hoping that would be 'Interstellar,' but it's not. (Which is why I still think your Best Picture winner is 'Imitation Game.')
Chris: OK, maybe I tumbled into the fifth dimension there for a second. 'Interstellar' probably won't win Best Picture -- and if it does, you probably didn't hear it first from me anyway! But I think you're right that the acting nominations would be tough. Matthew McConaughey would definitely get in if he didn't literally just win. I guess he still might, but I'm going to leave him off my list for now. Jessica Chastain is a great hope in a weak category, but I still don't think she's got enough juice to push through. Anne Hathaway is -- surprise! -- the female lead, but her part isn't really all that fleshed out. Another miss. But TARS is obviously the best, so we can pencil him in for a nomination in Best Robot Acting? Is that not a category? Didn't Sean Penn win that for 'Mystic River.' (I kid, Sean Penn! I kid.)
Mike: I desperately want to hear Cate Blanchett say, "And the Oscar goes to ... TARS."