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, Howard Casner of Rantings and Ravings is here to look at the Best Picture nominee – Marriage Story
Picture Nominee –
Here is my analysis of Marriage Story:
Marriage Story is Noah Baumbach’s eleventh film as writer and director. In 1995 he made a strong debut with the post-college angst drama Kicking and Screaming. But it was ten years before he realized the one that marked him as a filmmaker to be followed: The Squid and the Whale. After that came such notable movies as Margot at the Wedding, Francis Ha, and most recently, The Meyerowitz Stories.
Baumbach has always been more a writer/director, than a director/writer. He has never really been known as a visual stylist. He has received little notice at award times for his directing and has often co-written on Wes Anderson movies, who is generally more visually interesting. But what Baumbach might lack from a directing standpoint, he profoundly delivers in vibrant characters, incisive dialog, and emotional conflicts, and more so than many a director known for their visual artistry.
And now he has made Marriage Story, a drama about the breakdown of a union between a stage director and actress. It has been nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, Actor (Adam Driver), Actress (Scarlett Johansson), Original Screenplay, Music (Randy Newman) and Supporting Actress (Laura Dern, who is expected to win in that category).
Marriage Story is both painful and powerful in its ruthless honesty and intensity. Inspired by his parents divorce (the same source for The Squid and the Whale), as well as his own divorce from Jennifer Jason Leigh, it’s also hard to believe it is not also greatly inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage, an even more intense and insightful look at a failing relationship.
Perhaps the most honest aspect of the story is that though Baumbach wrote the screenplay and, in many ways, it is the male lead’s story (he gives Adam Driver two incredible show-offy scenes: one a knock down, drag out frightening verbal sparring between his character and Johansson’s, and the other, a karaoke scene where Driver sings, rather mediocrely but with stunning emotionality, Stephen Sondheim’s song from Company, Being Alive), at the same time, all my sympathy went to Johansson’s character, an actress who realizes that her husband is totally unaware just how unintentionally controlling he is in their lives and there is nothing for her to do but strike out on her own.
One of the best films of the year.
Los Angeles, CA 90028