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This Week for “Close-Up with Camenker,” Zach Reviews…IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT and Oscar Thoughts

(February 10, 2022)

Click here for the blurb and showtimes for IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT

Red River will be screening IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, the 1967 Oscar winner for Best Picture this Thursday, February 10. The film is timely not only for its thematic material, but also in that it celebrates its 55th anniversary this year and pays homage to Sidney Poitier, who recently passed away just shy of his 95th birthday.

The film tells the story of Virgil Tibbs, a black police detective from Philadelphia who arrives in small town Mississippi to help solve a murder investigation. Poitier plays Tibbs, an audacious and intelligent law enforcement agent whose race factors into the town’s handling of the case significantly. 

While it has been awhile since I have seen the film, I look forward to attending on Thursday. I hope it is a time to reflect on what I remember being a complicated albeit important film. I can assure those who are planning to go that they will get a lot out of it themselves and that you will see some of Sidney Poitier’s finest work.

Poitier, who had made history four years prior for his Oscar-winning lead performance in LILIES OF THE FIELD, stars alongside Rod Steiger, who also gives a career-best performance that won him Best Actor for 1967. Their relationship is at the core of this piece’s message and will leave audiences thinking for quite awhile.

Speaking of the Oscars, the nominations for the 94th Academy Awards came out this week. It was great to see that, as usual, some of the films that Red River has shown stacked up very nicely. On a personal note, I was especially happy to see BELFAST, LICORICE PIZZA, and NIGHTMARE ALLEY in the line-up as those were all films I reviewed for “Close-Up with Camenker” and saw at Red River. 

As I unpack the nominations, I would like to offer my thoughts on some of the top snubs and surprises. Take them for what they’re worth, but I hope you do enjoy them!

Surprise/Snub #1: The Best Actress category as a whole

Talk about another toss-up for Best Actress! The pre-Oscars circuits have been all over the place with this and the Oscars proved the same. Only two of my five predicted actresses were nominated: Nicole Kidman for BEING THE RICARDOS and Olivia Colman for THE LOST DAUGHTER. I see these two ladies, previous Oscar winners, as neck and neck for the trophy right now. While Jessica Chastain (THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE) and Kristen Stewart (SPENCER) both deliver great performances, I was hoping that Alana Haim would snag a nod for LICORICE PIZZA and thinking Jennifer Hudson would make it in for RESPECT (still need to see it). While I thought HOUSE OF GUCCI was a good but not great film, I for sure pictured Lady Gaga being here! I guess voters felt more like the Razzies did about GUCCI considering their nods to Jared Leto and that they only gave it a Makeup nomination at the Oscars. I’ve seen Chastain, Colman, Kidman, and Stewart’s performance, but will catch Penelope Cruz, the fifth nominee/another surprise to me, in PARALLEL MOTHERS at Red River soon.

Surprise #2: Judi Dench

I did not expect to see Judi Dench nominated in Supporting Actress for her endearing work in BELFAST, though I am glad she made it in. While I did not have Caitriona Balfe in here for BELFAST either and that prediction proved accurate, I would have expected her over Dench. Balfe’s outstanding performance is arguably a lead, so if they were to nominate anyone here, I am really happy it’s Dench. Nothing bothers me more than a lead nominated in supporting!

Snub #2: The film MASS anywhere!

Perhaps my favorite film from 2021 is the heartbreaking but powerful piece MASS, which centers on two couples who come together after one of their sons kills the other in a mass shooting. I was hoping that Ann Dowd would deliver a nod in Supporting Actress at least, but the film, in my opinion, is worthy of a Best Picture recognition, especially in a field of 10. To see it nowhere is incredibly sad to me as it shows little to no recognition for such a great piece.

Surprise #3: Lots of love for DRIVE MY CAR

I did expect a Picture, Adapted Screenplay, and International Film nod for DRIVE MY CAR. However, I was not thinking that its director, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, would have a slot in Best Director. I had that spot belonging to Denis Villeneuve for DUNE, but I should know by now how much the Academy enjoys lauding directors of international features, particularly since PARASITE…

Snub #3: The foreign film, A HERO, gains no traction

Awhile back, Asghar Farhadi’s A HERO was expected to do very well at the Oscars. I have not seen it yet, but to see that it didn’t get a single nod, even in International Feature, is quite a surprise.

Overall, I am finding the awards season to have more variation from show to show in the last few years than in years past. While this can make it harder to predict (I only went about 70% on my predictions, which is lower than the last two years!), it does make for some fun in that not everything is a guaranteed win at each ceremony. 

Personally, I see this being a huge winning season for THE POWER OF THE DOG and DUNE especially with some love for other performances in between. But more on that next time! In the meantime, happy viewing!

Stay tuned for Volume XVIII of “Close-Up with Camenker,” which will return on Friday, February 25. Title TBD, but something Oscar nominated that the theatre will be screening!

Click here to learn more about Zach!

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