In the film The Father, the storytellers found a new way to figure out how to portray losing one’s facilities. We see Anthony (Oscar-nominated Anthony Hopkins) in his apartment.
Or maybe it’s the apartment of his daughter Anne (Oscar-nominated Olivia Colman). She’s moving from London to Paris. He finds this ridiculous since “They don’t even speak English.” Or maybe she isn’t.
Anne is clearly devoted to her father, although occasionally exhausted. Anthony can be prickly with his primary caretaker, which is often the case, though he appears to love her as well.
Laura (Imogen Poots) is one of his caretakers, looking very much like someone else to him. Paul (Rufus Sewell) is Anne’s impatient partner. The portrayal of different actors in the same roles is a clever device. Mark Gatiss is The Man and Olivia Williams, The Woman.
The screenplay is by Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller, based on Zeller’s play. This is probably why the production feels a bit stagey.
Or maybe that’s an asset. Megan Basham of the WORLD notes, “The close-set and small cast are the ideal building blocks to illustrate the narrowing that so often comes with the end of life, when the world available to us, both physically and socially, grows so small.”
Because I was so damned confused – as we are supposed to be, I suspect – I didn’t really warm up to this film until near the end. It’s very well acted; it’s just a tough subject.
In the pantheon
The Father is a fine addition to the list of Movies About Alzheimer’s and Dementia You Shouldn’t Miss, published in January 2020. I’ve seen only the two most recent, Away From Her and Still Alice. These are more dramatic portrayals, as I recall, effective in their own ways.
The reviews for The Father were 98% positive in Rotten Tomatoes. Eli Glasner of the CBC News Network writes, “Ultimately I’m struck by Anthony Hopkins’ courage. At 83, fearlessly taking on this role with such vulnerability.”
I saw all the Best Supporting Actor and Original Screenplay noms!
Yeah, it’s been a less-than-satisfactory Oscar viewing season for me. I haven’t seen many of the nominees, certainly in comparison with most years. Although, seeing THREE Best Picture nominees in the last three days, which I haven’t yet reviewed, has made the list a bit more complete.
So this is a post for this moment, and I’m hoping to see the others eventually. The ! means I saw it. I’ll link to my reviews the first time.
BEST PICTURE ! The Father – I just saw this; well-acted, of course, depressing and a little stagey ! Judas and the Black Messiah – I saw this yesterday; the best in my opinion. Mank – this played at the newly-reopened Spectrum Theatre, but I didn’t catch it. ! Minari ! Nomadland. I’m aware of the controversy over how the movie doesn’t fully address the working conditions at Amazon, which the book apparently does. ! Promising Young Woman – I just saw, and I liked it a lot ! Sound of Metal – this is the movie I saw the earliest of the nominees, the only one before the noms were announced. It’s very good. ! The Trial of the Chicago Seven. Good film.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE ! Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy – she’s overdue, but this movie reviewed terribly ! Olivia Colman, The Father. She’s very strong in a demanding role. Amanda Seyfried, Mank ! Youn Yuh-Jung, Minari – my favorite
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – all great performances But it is absurd that the two leads of Judas are both up for best supporting. I blame the studio. ! Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 ! Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah ! Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami ! Paul Raci, Sound of Metal – probably my #2 pick ! Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah, narrowly my #1 pick
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM ! Another Round – Denmark. A good film but this is the only one I saw in the category. Better Days – Hong Kong Collective – Romania The Man Who Sold His Skin – Tunisia Qu Vadis, Aida? – Bosnia and Herzegovina
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE Collective Crip Camp The Mole Agent My Octopus Teacher ! Time
ORIGINAL SONG ! Fight For You from Judas and the Black Messiah ! Hear My Voice from The Trial of the Chicago 7 Husavik from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga lo Sì (Seen) from The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se) ! Speak Now from One Night in Miami – my rooting interest
Screenplays and other things
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM Onward Over the Moon A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon Soul ! Wolfwalkers
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY ! Borat Subsequent MovieFilm ! The Father ! Nomadland ! One Night in Miami – my favorite of the four The White Tiger – there’s a 2021 movie called White Tiger about a tank. That isn’t this movie.
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY ! Judas and the Black Messiah – my #1 pick ! Minari ! Promising Young Woman – my #2 pick ! Sound of Metal ! The Trial of the Chicago 7
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE ! Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal – excellent Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – like a lot of others, I’d be thrilled if he wins posthumously ! Anthony Hopkins, The Father – great, as usual Gary Oldman, Mank ! Steven Yeun, Minari
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – I always root for her ! Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday – she is WAY better than the movie; review soon Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman ! Frances McDormand, Nomadland ! Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman – possibly my favorite
DIRECTOR ! Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round David Fincher, Mank ! Lee Isaac Chung, Minari ! Chloe Zhao, Nomadland ! Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman. My pick.
The techie awards
PRODUCTION DESIGN ! The Father Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Mank News of the World Tenet
CINEMATOGRAPHY ! Sean Bobbitt, Judas and the Black Messiah Erik Messerschmidt, Mank Dariusz Wolski, News of the World ! Joshua James Richards, Nomadland – I can imagine this winning ! Phedon Papamichael, The Trial of the Chicago 7
COSTUME DESIGN ! Emma – hmm. I bought this DVD for my wife and we watched it some months ago, but I never reviewed it. It was pleasant enough, not great. But the costumes WERE fabulous. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Mank Mulan Pinocchio
ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND Greyhound Mank News of the World Soul ! Sound of Metal – the sound, and lack of, is pivotal here, and very effective
ORIGINAL SCORE Da 5 Bloods Mank ! Minari News of the World Soul
VISUAL EFFECTS – I’ve seen none Love and Monsters The Midnight Sky Mulan The One and Only Ivan Tenet
FILM EDITING ! The Father ! Nomadland – will probably win ! Promising Young Woman ! Sound of Metal – rooting interest ! The Trial of the Chicago 7 – secondary rooting interest
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING ! Emma Hillbilly Elegy Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Mank Pinocchio