Gaspar Noé Loved ‘Roma’ and ‘First Reformed’ but Won’t Watch the Oscars

The "Climax" director shared his thoughts on two Oscar contenders and explained why another ceremony captivates him even more.
Gaspar Noé
Gaspar Noé

Gaspar Noé shot his riveting dance-party-gone-wrong thriller “Climax” in just 15 days, but the year he’s spent on the road promoting it has made it hard for him to keep up with other people’s movies. As the Argentine finally returned to his home in Paris, however, he has had the chance to catch up on a few Oscar contenders — but won’t be tuning into the ceremony.

“I really don’t care about the Oscars,” Noé said in a Skype interview over the weekend. “I would never watch the Oscar ceremony. If I cared about who was winning the Oscar, it was when I was a kid when they were giving awards to ‘Midnight Cowboy’ or ‘The Godfather.’”

When “Climax” premiered at Cannes last May, Noé expressed a minority opinion about one future Oscar contender, saying in an interview that he had walked out of “Black Panther.”

Nevertheless, in his most recent interview, he was enthusiastic about one contender in the Best Original Screenplay category, where Paul Schrader is nominated for “First Reformed” — which, like “Climax,” was released by A24. “It’s great,” Noé said. “It’s such a dark depiction of the present times that I didn’t expect it, especially as a movie coming from the American industry with a famous actor. After I saw it, it was like two in the morning, and I started smoking cigarettes. I was rewatching some scenes for an hour.” He was especially impressed by one moment, “the one with the guy depicting the future of this world and telling the priest why he doesn’t want to have babies.”

“First Reformed”

Noé has been a fan of Schrader’s work for years, especially “Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters,” the ambitious 1985 drama about Japanese writer and revolutionary Yukio Mishima. “It’s an absolute masterpiece,” he said. “I’ve seen it many times. He got the Best Director award at Cannes, and it was extremely deserved.” (Schrader actually won the “Best Artistic Contribution” award.) Noé added that the Cannes competition for the Palme d’Or, for which he was in contention with “Irreversible” and “Enter the Void,” always caught his attention. “I watch the Cannes awards ceremony because I relate more to the films that are competing in Cannes than the ones competing for the Oscars,” he said.

Noé also expressed his appreciation for “Roma” and Alfonso Cuarón, whose “Gravity” inspired Noé to work in 3D with his sexually explicit romance “Love.” He called “Gravity” a “masterpiece of filmmaking” and added that “the appearance of long takes and 3D reminded me of my first screening of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ The language he uses in ‘Roma’ is more classical, but I deeply hope that Alfonso gets all the awards he deserves.”

He admitted that some Oscar wins have impressed him. “I was very surprised that a movie that really touched me, Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour,’ won the Best Foreign Language Film award,” Noé said, referring to Haneke’s 2013 win. “That makes me like the Oscars. But most of the movies that win Oscars are not the kind of movies that I go to see.”

Noé didn’t have to worry about campaigning for “Climax,” which France did not choose as its Academy Awards submission despite rave reviews. While his psychedelic and provocative filmmaking techniques tend to yield divisive reactions, “Climax” is his first movie with genuine crossover potential. Nevertheless, he said he wasn’t bothered by the snub. “I’m really happy,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to be sitting in a theater for six hours listening to bad jokes.”

A24 releases “Climax” on March 1.

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