Saturday, January 24, 2015

FOXCATCHER - 5 nominations

Actor - Steve Carell
Supporting Actor - Mark Ruffalo
Director - Bennett Miller
Makeup and Hairstyling - Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
Original Screenplay - E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman

Sports movies are among my favorite genres of film because win or lose, the notion of putting oneself out there, working hard to overcome obstacles, and what can be learned in the process is inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time.  So, without knowing much about Foxcatcher, I bought my ticket to see a great wrestling film.  Little did I know what was coming, and how much more magical and complex Foxcatcher would be.

The film is based on a true story of real life Olympian brothers Mark (Channing Tatum) and David Mark Ruffalo) Schultz.  Mark is scouted by zillionaire John DuPont, who aspires to serve as Mark's coach, father, best friend, and Machiavelli, creating a controlling and abusive relationship and slowly separating Mark from his brother who has heretofore been Mark's trainer and coach.  

We see the sad life of a rich person who has never been held to any standards, and who believes himself to be good at anything and everything, but also knows deeply that he is good for nothing. This lack of self esteem leads him to need more and more from Mark, while David is constantly trying to get his brother's focus back to Mark's life's aspiration.

The performances of the three leads is unbelievable.  Steve Carell is nearly unrecognizable in the film, not just because of the superb makeup (and a much deserved nomination for that team), but because he alters himself so dramatically to emulate John DuPont.  Mark Ruffalo gives a strong and worthy performance as he struggles to maintain the charade that DuPont is head coach which all the wrestlers buy into in order to keep access to the incredible facilities and salaries DuPont has provided.  But the real story of this film is Channing Tatum, who somehow manages to alter his skull, his walk, his manner - this is not the Tatum we have ever seen before.  I was dearly hoping that the Academy would do for Tatum what they did for Geena Davis when she won for The Accidental Tourist, and move Tatum's role to the Supporting Actor category so that there would be room for lauding his work in this film.  (Remembering that Davis' role was a lead role, but she was nominated for a Supporting role, knowing that the lead actress category was packed that year as the Lead Actor category is this year.)  Though the entire cast was wonderful, it is truly a shame that Tatum is the only one of the three who walks away without a nomination.  I wonder if he had had to endure the same makeup process as Carell, would he have received a nomination?  Was it too obvious a choice for Carell and not for Tatum?  We will never know but he was robbed.  But now we know he has this in him, I suspect this won't be his last crack at the bat.  (End of rant.)

Foxcatcher has been one of my favorite films of this Oscars season.  The characters were well drawn, the cast did their jobs, and the Director and screenplay made the story compelling.  As I discovered, the wrestling is merely a backdrop for a truly outstanding film.  

*How about that Mark Ruffalo, appearing in TWO films with Oscar noms this year?

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