Saturday means I’m back to watching double features with my extra time. Unfortunately, I feel like I’ve already reached the point in my Oscar viewing where it becomes a slog of overly sentimental films that are the Academy’s bread and butter. After today’s viewings, I only have 15 features left to watch in the next month, so even with taking some time off in early April for the Seattle International Film Festival, I can definitely afford to take some Oscar breaks. I’ll likely plan on exercising that option tomorrow.
News of the World (2020, Dir. Paul Greengrass)
A decade ago, News of the World would haven been all but guaranteed a best picture nod. A solid western staring Tom Hanks and leaning heavily into sentimentality is the perfect recipe for Oscar bait. And while the film was good enough, I’m much happier with this year’s batch of nominees reflect more diverse and ambitious filmmaking that I’m glad to see as a change of the guard.
While I anticipated News of the World being a throwback Oscar bait film, I didn’t anticipate how uninspired of a reunion between Hanks and director Paul Greengrass it would be. Hanks is still capable of being one of the best working actors, but it’s not a given. For Hanks to live up to his potential, he needs a role that can push him. In Captain Phillips (2013), their prior film together, Greengrass pushed Hanks into one of the stronger performances of the latter part of his career. In News of the World, Hanks just plays a version of his real-life persona of the worlds grandpa. It’s not bad, it’s just a bit of a waste of Hanks’s talent.
Mulan (2020, Dir. Niki Caro)
I’m going to be blunt; Mulan is a fine movie, but it has absolutely no reason to exist. I passed on watching this film when it came out, because after the atrocious remake of The Lion King (Dir. Jon Favreau) from 2019, it was clear that Disney was taking the term remake way too literally. The music and Eddie Murray may be missing from this version, but this new version does nothing to differentiate it outside of what’s missing.