Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ides of March

With a cast that includes Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood it is no wonder that the early buzz around "The Ides of March" is so favorable. Combined with a quality script it is not a surprise if this film will be highly regarded come award season. The film is coming off a successful festival run and is finally hitting theaters on October 7th.

The film hits on every major political hot topic including the death penalty, abortion, religion, adultery, and the dirty politics where under the table agreements are made for voter support. The film takes off days before the Ohio Democratic primary focusing on Mike Morris (George Clooney) as his campaign begins to unravel from the inside when Stephen (Ryan Gosling) makes a poor decision. However, once politics begin to get dirty what will Stephen do with the information that he has about the campaign and the political future that he has control over.

This is by far the year of Ryan Gosling with "Crazy, Stupid, Love" and "Drive" already making their rounds. This is coming off a snub for his role in "Blue Valentine" and I think that the Academy finds a way to include him on the ballot this year. His performance as the idealistic staffer, Stephen Myers, working on a Presidential campaign is an absolute homerun. He is perfect in the subtle scenes where he says very little, but you can see in his expression how Stephen is calculating his options.

Not to be outdone is the performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman as the senior campaign manager, Paul Zara, that values loyalty above all else. He knows who his friends and enemies are equally, but will not sacrifice loyalty for either. Everything I wanted to see from Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Moneyball" is present in this performance. Every bit his equal in this film is his calculating opponent Tom Duffy, played by Paul Giamatti, who has the same "whatever it fucking takes" approach as his character in "Win Win". They should both receive a nomination for supporting actor.

Most impressive might be Evan Rachel Wood who has really matured in the last several years with her roles on "True Blood", "the Wrestler" (2008) and "Mildred Pierce" (2011). As the young intern, Molly Stearns, she has to carry the emotional baggage of the film. For such a young actress this shows her amazing skill and is deserving of a supporting actress nomination.

Being a resident of the DC area the references to working at a consulting firm on K Street and Farragut North made me laugh, but I wouldn't expect the rest of the country to get those references. Then I learned that the script was based on the play "Farragut North" written by Beau Willimon and the framing of the film made more sense to me. This is the second time that Philip Seymour Hoffman has been involved with taking a widely successful play ("Doubt" in 2008 where the play won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play) and helping to make it an equally powerful film. There could be more connections like this, but it was the first that jumped at me.

Along with the acting nominations identified above, the film will also deserve an adapted screenplay nomination and I wouldn't be surprised if George Clooney gets nominated as the director. While he wasn't convincing as a presidential nominee, he didn't have to be. Every bit the 5 Quack film of the other nominees this year and likely deserving of a Best Picture nomination as well. Go see this film!

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