Speaking of “The Oscar Movie,” I kinda saw this coming. Finally, after months and months of speculation, buzz and hype, people have seen the Mike Nichols‘ Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts flick, Charlie Wilson’s War. And though most seem to at least admire qualities of the film (especially Phillip Seymour Hoffman‘s supporting performance), nobody loves it, and its out of the Best Picture running.
So all that leaves in mystery is Sweeney Todd. Everything else has been seen by at least a few generally trustworthy folk. I’m updating my current predictions tomorrow, but please enjoy some choice “Charlie” quotes after the jump.
Ramin Setoodeh of Newsweek:
“Charlie Wilson’s War” is the perfect example of why you can’t handicap the Oscars race based on a film no one has seen. Sorkin paces the whole thing like a long episode of “The West Wing” dipped in “Studio 60 on the Afghanistan Strip.”
It’s like the movie really wants to be a magical piece about how horrible it all is, but how any one man can step up and make real change, but how that may still end up going wrong. But to be that honest and that unconventional is the stuff of true genius … and while the film is so accomplished, it is short of genius. I knew Three Kings … I knew Dr Strangelove … I knew Lawrence of Arabia … and sir, you are none of them. In a weird way, the movie is a more serious, but oddly less effective riff on Elaine May’s Ishtar. It’s like it wants to be a whole movie on the Charles Grodin and Jack Weston characters in which the Dustin Hoffman character is truly enlightened.
It’s not a monumental achievement but that’s okay…it really is. It’s a film aimed at the over-40 set and that’s cool also. All right, yes…it feels a little too pat and tidy and perhaps a wee bit smug, but that’s fine also. There is room for this kind of thing in our moviegoing culture. Charlie-o is not a Best Picture contender but then we knew that last week when Time’s Richard Corliss called it — the unkindest cut! — “likable.”
“Charlie Wilson’s War” is Mike Nichols on an off day. 97 minutes of keep-a-smile-on-your-face pleasantry, at best, but packing a hell of a performance from Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the film left a number of Aaron Sorkin’s best lines on the cutting room floor while coming off much more impotent than one might have expected from a reading of the 145-page script that made the rounds over the past two years. It might be too easy to call it in the “Primary Colors” wheelhouse, but even that is too much of a favor to extend.