It’s that time of the year! As Cannes is currently going, here’s my first stab at predictions for the 89th Academy Awards. Ten years ago, The Departed won in the tightest Best Picture race (prior to the one early this year), Forest Whitaker and Helen Mirren steamrolled through critics and televised awards, an Idol reject named Jennifer Hudson took Oscar glory, and an overdue Martin Scorsese finally can call himself an Oscar winner.
This year, we might have Marty coming back again, the birth of a nation, Ang Lee at another shot to a Best Picture win, as well as Meryl Streep getting nod #20, and Oscar nominee Isabelle Huppert? Here’s my take on the top six races.
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Considered as one of the most powerful, influential, and defining pieces in American literature, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is, once again, crossing art forms with its newest film adaptation under the hands of visionary Baz Luhrmann. 2013’s version stars Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, Carey Mulligan for the role of Daisy Buchanan, and Leonardo di Caprio filling in the role of the marvelous Jay Gatsby.
As what was expected from him, Luhrmann (the director) not only identifies glitz and glamour, but he also knows how to create one. This trademark of him was ever so visible in the movie, and it is in movies like this one where that style benefits the most. Reminiscent of the wide colorful shots of Moulin Rouge!, Gatsby was as stylish and lively as one expects from the book. It was one eye catching feat right after the other that all these lush will definitely suck you in.
Luhrmann (this time, as the writer) is a bit more surprising one. First, the loyalty to the book was unexpected. While one can say that a piece such as Fitzgerald’s is difficult to do a crossover, Baz, together with co-writer Craig Pearce, puts his writing into good use. It is noticeable that at times, he just lets the author’s words speak for themselves. And how can you go wrong with that one? But while that one works, a lot of the characters were underwritten to the point that it affects their overall participation in the film.
With that said, the movie can still cut some 15-20 minutes of chunk in it. This is the main problem that I have with almost all of Luhrmann’s works – they’re in dire need of a sharper editing. Also, while the visual treat was present, it seems as if the director was contemplating if he needs to go all the way or if he’s gonna show restraint in it. While he managed to show both exhibits, it ends up with an uneven pacing in the end result.
Another thing that is commendable with Luhrmann’s filmography is his consistently good taste in music. And Gatsby was certainly not an exception. From Lana del Rey’s haunting Young and the Beautiful up to Emeli Sande’s Crazy in Love, the film is also aided with good music throughout.
The cast is pretty much solid, but there’s nothing to go gaga about. Maguire totally embodies the sheer awkwardness of Nick Carraway, so by that alone, I guess he’s fitting for that. Isla Fisher’s Myrtle, Joel Edgerton’s Tom, and Elizabeth Debicki’s Jordan all showed potential, only to be severely underused in the movie. Carey Mulligan was able to capture the innocence and glamour of Daisy, and you can see that she was clearly trying. It was a good and serviceable performance but nothing to brag home about. I guess the easy standout would be Leonardo di Caprio’s Jay Gatsby. He playfully brings the mystery of the character while also showing the ambitious side of him. Di Caprio is clearly one of the true bona fide movie stars of this generation. The way he uses his charisma is all put into good use in this.
In its entirety, I don’t think we’d be able to see a more faithful film interpretation of The Great Gatsby than this version helmed by Baz Luhrmann. While far from perfect, it is within these flaws that makes the film grounded and results to an enjoyable cinematic treat.
You can also check the same review over at Pinoy Exchange.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl