After last years’ predetermination at the BAFTA’s, with Julianne Moore winning the prestigious Best Actress award for Still Alice, a film that hadn’t hit UK cinemas at the time of the ceremony leaving the choice of winner solely in the hands of preview-screened critics, the Oscar’s soon followed suit and awarded Moore with her first award after many nominations for films such as Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights and Far From Heaven. Completing this years’ nominations is a variety of talent ranging from rising stars to cinematic gems with each film definitely getting the vote of confidence from here at Black Ribbon, even Joy, the newest release from David O. Russell, which although features a riveting leading performance from Jennifer Lawrence has been regarded by many as a limp entry into the impressive canon Russell has already established, with The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook doing particularly well at the prestigious ceremony in previous years. Could his and Lawrence’s success at the Oscar’s continue this year? Let’s ask the people in the know.
In the wise eyes of the bookies, Brie Larson is set to carry on her success at the BAFTA’s with her being odds on to pick up the Oscar for Best Actress in Lenny Abrahamson’s simply brilliant Room, a film which manages to carry the balance of the dark and the twisted yet ultimately proclaims itself as a life-affirming drama, featuring a world-class performance from young Jacob Tremblay who along with Larson brings the brilliance of the film to light, resulting in the rare occasion whereby I completely agree with the Academy. Sure, Cate Blanchett is rather flawless in Todd Haynes’ Carol and Saoirse Ronan continues her streak of being perfect in every way possible (CRUSH INCOMING) within the beautiful Brooklyn, but Larson is the stand-out, pulling in a performance that those at the Oscar voting table love; no make-up and a lot of crying. It might just be the start of something magical. Cringe.
Next Time: Best Director
“Don’t Ever Think The World Owes You Anything, Because It Doesn’t…”
Although I’m fundamentally confused and sometimes disorientated at the sheer amount of Oscar-waving movies that are dumped upon our screens within the space of around eight or so weeks at the beginning of each year, there is a sense of wonder when examining what makes the blueprint of a film destined for awards from all corners of well, Hollywood. Beginning my venture into the year of film in 2016 is Joy, the new film by David O. Russell, the man behind the simply brilliant one-two of The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook and the rather tedious twiddle that was American Hustle, but hey, you’ve got to take the bad with the good. Ever since the success of Silver Linings Playbook, there is always a guaranteed set of events that are set to follow when a O. Russell film is announced. One. a cast that includes Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro in a supporting role. Two, a story that is overtly dramatic but relies mainly on performance rather than a presence of underlying depth, and finally, Oscars. With Joy, Russell’s latest indeed features the first two and may indeed end with the latter but in an overall summary, Russel improves on the no-show of American Hustle but fails to live up to the exceedingly high watermark of The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook.
Loosely based on the real-life tale of Joy Mangano, Joy, features Jennifer Lawrence in the titular role, a over-worked single mother, basked with the responsibility of not one, but three generations of family from grandmother down to daughter and son, but with mother, father and half-sister seemingly being the hardest to comprehend and control. After a ring of unsuccessful attempts to spring out from obscurity, Joy begins to design the “miracle mop” with the financial help of her father’s partner and the advertising of Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper), a leading executive at QVC, yet it soon begins to materialise that perhaps Joy’s attempts at gaining success and riches are as difficult as controlling her stereotypical family of madness. Much like the life outside the ring for both Dickie and Micky in The Fighter, Joy is at its’ best when the real-life trivialities of family life is exposed, with its’ surprisingly limited comedic element only being adhered too during such scenes, scenes in which sibling rivalries are effectively propositioned by the acting talents of Robert De Niro and Diane Ladd as the one-two mother and father, and Elisabeth Rohm as Joy’s estranged and slightly jealous half-sister.
Where the film ultimately succeeds is it’s reliance on the strength of Lawrence’s leading performance, a testament to her incredible abilities as an actress who, at the age of 25, seemingly has accomplished much more than most of the veterans of today’s acting establishments, yet Joy not only gives her room to expand her vast array of acting talent in the titular role of her character’s single mother lifestyle, it also proves that even with a minimalistic plot that Joy unfortunately has, Lawrence can propel a film into something actually quite good rather than just being okay. Saying that, Joy indeed is the best film you will see this year about the creation of a mop, and as a starter for the year in film, it’s not a bad one. Not quite The Fighter, but definitely better than American Hustle, Joy is a heartwarming addition to the filmography of both Lawrence and Russell.
Overall Score: 7/10