What does that tell you? The studio has awards in its sights for the movie, which is tracking to open huge on October 2. As well they should. Sure, tech nods are in order for screenplay, VFX, cinematography, production design and score. And I will argue that Ridley Scott delivers his best effort since “Black Hawk Down” in 2001. (That was the year “Gladiator” took home Best Picture.) Matt Damon gives his best lead performance in years. He’s been laboring in studio land as a major movie star, and sometimes that means not exercising all the muscles you can with someone like Steven Soderbergh on “Behind the Candelabra” or “Contagion.”
On “The Martian,” Damon gets to take full advantage of his skill set, as an actor and movie star, as Mark Watney, a botanist astronaut stranded alone on Mars. He talks to the camera, squeezes the most out of Drew Goddard’s witty, cleverly constructed script (adapted from the Andy Weir bestseller) and carries the screen. As Damon points out in our flipcam interview, though, he’s not really alone, as the movie acknowledges our connected, monitored and constantly communicative universe.