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Close-Up with Camenker Volume XLI: Golden Globe Reactions, Awards Season Thoughts, and Upcoming Films

December 14, 2022

This Monday’s Golden Globe nominations seem like another step toward a more “normal” awards season, one that is hopefully filled with good speeches, a variety of genres being honored, and no slaps to the face.

The Globes, the perennial kickoff to awards season, are back in person this year after a tumultuous set of controversies in 2021, the dust of which has yet to fully settle. While the show always excites me as it means that awards season is in full swing, I still don’t quite know who the Hollywood Foreign Press Association are nor do I see the point of them giving out awards like many of the critics circles, Screen Actors Guild, etc.

Nonetheless, they are here again and we must take the film nominations that they’ve put forward seriously as to who will be in contention for the rest of the cycle.

Five films that were major hits this morning that were also shown at Red River were THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN, EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, TAR, ELVIS, and TRIANGLE OF SADNESS. The former three were expected to do well and certainly are shining in the spotlight as they will continue to throughout the season. The latter two are somewhat of a surprise in how well they did, but it’s a good sign for those filmmakers.

Surprisingly, the soon-to-be-released film WOMEN TALKING barely scored any nods while THE MENU, currently showing at Red River and one I hope to see this weekend, picked up some acting love. Darren Aronofsky’s new film THE WHALE only got love for its star Brendan Fraser who, despite his misgivings with the Globes, may win Best Actor next month. 

And much to my chagrin, the new AVATAR film, which has taken over a decade to return to theatres, picked up nominations for Best Motion Picture, Drama and Best Film Director for James Cameron, who I have always loathed. While his films are not my cup of tea most of the time, his arrogant attitude and erratic behavior are what really turn me away from him, even though I tend to believe in separating the artist from the person.

Two films in contention this season that I recently saw are worth sharing about. The first is one that you can find on Apple TV if you’re a subscriber. It’s called CAUSEWAY and stars the always excellent Jennifer Lawrence as a wounded soldier returning home from Afghanistan and adjusting to life. A perfect example of a small independent film, CAUSEWAY is memorable for many reasons, most of all its performances.

Lawrence shines as she so often does and proves herself versatile in channeling the PTSD that her character Lynsey faces returning home. She has outstanding chemistry with her scene partner Brian Tyree Henry who, as James, delivers a masterful supporting performance that is worthy of an Oscar nod despite being overlooked by the Globes. The two form a deep bond that is shared by trauma and are hard not to like as characters. The film itself proves the adage that “there are no small parts, only small actors” as it is rounded out by brief but powerful performances by familiar supporting actresses Linda Emond and Jayne Houdyshell. 

The much more “talked about” film that I just recently caught was Steven Spielberg’s new piece, THE FABLEMANS, which is his semi-autobiographical swan song about growing up and chasing the world of movies. Beautifully made and acted, it is a two-and-a-half-hour tour de force that hits the emotions of “feel good,” heartbreak, funny, and sadness all in one. No surprise that it is faring very well so far in awards season.

I understand it will likely be at Red River soon and encourage any and all folks to see it. Not only is the film itself a love letter to movies much in the way that CINEMA PARADISO is, but it also tugs at your heartstrings through its frank portrayal of adolescence and growing up. Gabriel LaBelle, who plays “Sammy” (modeled after Spielberg) is superb as the protagonist and proves himself worthy of an Oscar nod as he channels so many emotions. Michelle Williams shines as his mother Mitzi Fabelman and continues to show her evolution as a top-notch actress.

I remember when Spielberg’s supporting actor Mark Rylance won an Oscar for his performance in BRIDGE OF SPIES some years ago and paid homage to how the director surrounds himself with masters in every craft. This is totally true with THE FABELMANS. Despite minor gaps in the middle with the plot, its script by the legendary Tony Kushner (and Spielberg) is great, the score by the iconic John Williams works perfectly, and the other artistry is not lost through brilliant cinematography, costuming, and the like.

As I said, I hope to soon catch THE MENU and to also see what Red River has in store throughout the holidays. At home, I am planning to catch up with TRIANGLE OF SADNESS, which I missed in its run, and also to see GLASS ONION when it drops to Netflix.

There’s plenty more to come from me. Keep enjoying the movies and see you in 2023!

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