Every day until the Oscars ceremony we’ll be highlighting a different category or movie here on the LAMB! Here’s a link to all the posts written so far:
Today, Nick Rehak, French Toast Sunday is here to look at the nominee for Best Picture – Ford v. Ferrari.
Picture Nominee – Ford v. Ferrari
I honestly didn’t plan on seeing this film. I had seen the trailer one too many times and I was bored of it. Frankly it annoyed me towards the end. In my mind, we’ve seen racing films. We get it. Hell they were parodied in Talladega Nights, so what now? Racing films have become absurd action/heist/insanity films with the help of the Fast and Furious franchise, so where can we really go with this medium? And I’ve said it time and again, I’m getting tired of these biopic(ish) films. Just make a documentary and interview the people that were there and splice in footage of the thing you’re discussing. Why watch The Walk when you can watch the overwhelmingly superior Man on Wire? If you haven’t guessed, I wasn’t looking forward to this movie. But I have a certain “subscription” to a “major movie theater chain” so it didn’t really “cost” me anything to see this film. I could not have been more wrong about this film.
James Mangold (Logan, Walk The Line) really outdoes himself with this film, and it makes me wonder if there is a genre or topic he can’t handle. The races are masterfully shot and every second kept me on the edge of my seat. There is this unnerving intensity with every scene of a race where you don’t know what’s going to happen, and I actually started sweating. I felt kinda gross as the movie ended, like I needed to change my shirt sooner than later. While the racing is a huge part of the film, there is also an underlying drama taking us behind the scenes of the creation of some of the greatest cars Ford has ever built. Assumedly. I’m not a car guy.
Matt Damon (you know who he is) is Caroll Shelby, a former racer turned automotive designer, and he’s drafted by the Ford Motor Company to create a car that will beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The race is a historic 8.38 mile course that is driven by teams of drivers for 24 Hours straight. Car companies create and build their best and fastest cars to compete with each other. It’s actually a fascinating race that I wish would be covered extensively in a documentary, but, we get this film and it does an incredible job of recreating the races from the late 50s into the 60s. Anyway, Shelby agrees to work with Ford and create a car, but he gets to pick the driver. He chooses British driver Ken Miles (wonderfully portrayed by Christian Bale). The two have an immediate chemistry, and while the film doesn’t delve into their backstory, we don’t need it as we feel like we’ve known them both for years. There are no secrets or hidden motivations. Kinda feels nice.
The secondary plot of course is the Ford Motor Company going back and forth with Ferrari. Ford tries to buy Ferrari, Ferrari disrespects Ford and his legacy, it’s an interesting back and forth, but at times it feels like a chore. I ended up not caring about this plot, I just wanted more Damon and Bale and more racing. The cast includes Caitriona Balfe, Jon Bernthal, Josh Lucas, and Tracy Letts, among others, but Damon and Bale are such standouts you tend to forget the other actors. The score is fine, the sound work is incredible, and it’s visually impressive. It took a lot to tell the difference between the actual driving and the CGI/Green screen effects. It’s a film I look forward to revisiting and it’s a friendly reminder to never judge a truck based solely on its appearance because it’s what’s inside the truck that matters the most. You gotta open up the hood to see what kind of engine is inside.