Oscar Bait 2022 - 2023

Darren's filmography is series of big swings, sometimes he totally connects and other times he misses by miles. Even when it appeared he was hitting a confident consistency with The Wrestler and Black Swan (one of my favorite films) back to back, and anticipation for Noah was high, he failed to hit with critics and cinephiles (although it is his highest grossing film). But his natural penchant for controversy and messiness is his appeal for me. Like the fact that some of you are calling him a hack, or think Black Swan is 'meh', it all makes him greater than the sum of his parts. You're getting something from him. It might be disastrous, it might be depression porn, it might be the kind of cult classic that truly no one makes anymore (mother!), it will definitely have a great female performance in there somewhere (maybe he was too self-serious for Jen in their relationship, but he directed the hell out of her and she gives one of her best performances!). I don't think he'll go down as an all-time great, but he is definitely one of the most interesting American directors we have, and that, for me, is worth a lot.
While the central idea was a little on the nose, Mother! was an intense experience and I appreciated the effort. It was worth it for Pfeiffer alone, slinking around being mysterious.
I hated The Whale SO much. Haven't had such a visceral negative reaction to a film in ages. Endless misery porn using every manipulative trick in the book.

Yep. Everything screamed "this is important, this is cinema, this is art!" with an arrogance and intensity I haven't quite experienced with a film since Beautiful Boy.

There's also something about the film's eagerness to revel in queer pain that doesn't sit well with me - or maybe I'm tired of queer films year after year being celebrated and deemed awards-worthy almost exclusively when they happen to put their queer characters through hardship.

On a slightly related note, this reminds me to finally watch Black Swan.
Just finished watching All Quiet on the Western Front. It was really good, really harrowing and difficult to watch at some parts.

It could be a dark horse for best picture
Mother! was pretentious bullshit, but I also think it is one of Jennifer's best performances and I do think she should have gotten an Oscar nom for it.

They were promoting that movie as if it was gonna be some blockbuster horror movie. It's a pretentious biblical allegory arthouse movie - it should have been released in December with all the other Oscar bait.
And as if that wasn't bad enough, it opened a week after the box office juggernaut that was It Chapter 1, meaning even the audience who would have been interested if it had been a horror movie were otherwise engaged.
I think Aronofsky is very intentional about everything he does and doesn't shy away to create some uneasy/unpleasant (but memorable) viewing experiences, like with 'Pi', 'Requiem' or 'mother!'. In a way, it is pretentious. But I think his filmography is still impressive and solid.

'mother!' has the best movie villains in the form of those guests who wouldn't get off that sink, eventually breaking it.

Noah (the character) was very unlikeable, but then you also have Jennifer Connelly's performance.

'The Fountain' is one of my favourite movies. How the 3 stories intertwine, the performances by Jackman and Weisz, the cinematography, the soundtrack by Mansell,... .
I've only watched The Wrestler and Black Swan. I have always wanted to watch The Fountain but have never been able to push myself to. Requiem For A Dream was one that was shown in a "don't do drugs" course in school... which was something. Mother!, Noah, The Whale will probably go unwatched for me though.
Black Swan has always been a weird one in that I don't think it's bad, but I'd rather just watch Perfect Blue?
I mean, this is the truth. I love Black Swan but Perfect Blue is right there (and is so good) and he basically redid it. He can't even deny it because he stole/referenced one of the shots from Perfect Blue in Requiem...
This thread inspired me to finally watch Mother! last night. A hot mess of a movie. I loved it for the sheer ridiculousness of it all. Those biblical references were so incredibly heavy handed, and I couldn't help but thinking that that must have been a deliberate choice..? Jennifer Lawrence's acting was so amazingly over the top and I felt real queer joy at her ~Mother Earth* screaming at us human leeches and burning down that Garden of Eden, after we human's were too stupid to not sit on unbraced sinks. A metaphor.

That said I can't bring myself to watch The Whale. It looks simply dreadful and I'm absolutely not here for Brendan Fraser snatching an Oscar for starring in misery porn. UGH!