I saw this film as a screener before Christmas. I was excited to see it again in AMC’s Best Picture Showcase last night to refresh my memory.
Based on the play, this film follows David Frost (Michael Sheen) during his infamous interviews with President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) following his resign from the presidency.
I didn’t expect to enjoy this film as much as I did. I knew nothing about the interviews, heck I wasn’t even alive when all of this went down. But this film totally sucked me in. Sheen is great but this film really belongs to Langella who just transforms into the former president. The intense late night phone call and explosive final session are so incredibly engaging. My only criticism is that the film is presented like a documentary- with it’s actors doing interviews as their characters. It really took me out of the film to see Sam Rockwell and Oliver Platt discussing the interviews as though they were the researchers on the project. I thought that device was unnecessary. While the idea of a bunch of interviews on screen for two hours sounds endlessly dull, Langella and Sheen’s amazing on screen chemistry make it work.
I know why this is here and it’s very deserving of the spot, but it just didn’t get enough critical attention to really make an impact here. It should be happy just to get the nomination.
Best Director – Ron Howard
Surprisingly, I don’t mind his nomination here. I generally tend to find Ron Howard to be very heavy handed with his directing and I’m usually not a fan, but this is my favorite of his by far. I don’t think that he stands a chance against Boyle, though.
Best Actor – Frank Langella
If Rourke wasn’t up for this award, I’d be rooting for Langella all the way. He transforms himself and deserves to be recognized for it.
Best Adapted Screenplay
I like this nomination as well- unlike Doubt which was obviously a play and came across dull with it’s one setting and small cast, this film really translates from the stage to the screen well. I’d love to say it will win, but I’m certain that Slumdog will take home nearly everything it’s up for.
I’m glad this was nominated here, but I do think that Slumdog will take this award home as well. Even still, a film about interviews could have been dull but the pacing of this film kept me fully engaged.