Friday, December 19, 2014

Gone Girl - Dir. David Fincher (2014)

So I saw this movie over a month ago and I don't remember many specific details.  Of course there is one detail that most people will not forget, but I don't want to dwell on it or make any stupid jokes.  More recently, the film has garnered several Golden Globe nominations: Best Director, Best Actress in a Drama, Best Screenplay, and Best Score.  Because of how long it has been since I saw the movie, and because I think I treated the book review as something of a quasi-film adaptation review, I will address the question of whether it will win.  Please keep in mind that I am far from a comprehensive critic that is employed full-time digesting all of the noteworthy titles of the year.  I know myself, but that is all.

But before that, one special note on Tyler Perry.  Perry played Tanner Bolt.  Notably, Tanner Bolt's wife did not make an appearance in the film, no doubt due to budget/time constraints, but since she was one of the very few African-American characters in the book, it makes sense that Tanner Bolt be depicted by a black man.  And Perry won an African-American Film Critic's Association award for Best Supporting Actor, tying with J.K. Simmons for Whiplash (the obvious favorite for the Oscar).  I haven't seen Whiplash, but Perry deserved this nomination if only because he brought levity to the film.  Sure, there are funny moments in Gone Girl, but one would certainly expect Neil Patrick Harris to bring the comic element home.  He does not do that, and I actually thought his depiction made for a weaker character than in the book, because Desi is an even more pronounced caricature.  But Perry brought the perfect blend of light humor, empathy and confidence to his role, and though I have never seen any of his movies, he may be at his best when not cross-dressing as a grandma.  He was the most pleasant surprise about the adaptation for me.

So then: David Fincher.  He is still most known for The Social Network, Se7en, and Fight Club.  He won the Golden Globe for The Social Network but was only nominated for the The Curious Case of Benjamin Button aside from that.  He still has not won an Oscar for directing, and I think most people will agree, in hindsight, that he was snubbed on both Se7en and Fight Club.  Fight Club may not have deserved to win Best Picture, and he may not have deserved to win Best Director--but he certainly deserved a nomination because that film demanded serious attention to detail, and he brought it.  Maybe it is interesting to compare that film to Gone Girl.  And basically, yeah, Gone Girl is nowhere near as unique and special a work as Fight Club.  Gone Girl is a ready-made blockbuster.  Nobody knew what the fuck Fight Club was when it came out, and I think it's safe to say the movie made the book way more popular afterwards.  It's become a cult phenomenon, and I was shocked to see it only made about $37 million at the box office.  DVD sales and syndication no doubt have made this film the majority of its earnings.  Is Gone Girl better than The Social Network?  Probably not, and I even found that film a bit annoying (i.e. it had an Aaron Sorkin screenplay).  So I do not think Fincher should win for this, nor do I think he has a prayer against the directors of either Birdman or Boyhood (I haven't seen Boyhood yet - insanely - but Richard Linklater also has gone too long without a win), or Wes Anderson for that matter.  Verdict: Lose

As for Rosamund Pike, it is good that she received the nomination as she plays the character well. And she actually has a shot at winning in her category, and getting nominated for the Oscar. Apparently she was in another movie reviewed on this site, but her performance was not cited directly.  Verdict: Win

I think it is safe to say that Gillian Flynn has already "won," but she has very stiff competition for her category and I think it will be a big shocker if neither Birdman, nor Boyhood, nor The Grand Budapest Hotel beats out Gone Girl in this category.  The script is about as good as the book--though I just read that Michelle Obama thought the book was way better and she is probably a better authority than me when it comes to such matters.  Side note: it would be hilarious if there were a sequel to Gone Girl and it was about Michelle Obama, post-White House.  Verdict: Lose

Finally, Trent Reznor always wins when he scores David Fincher films.  The score for this was especially good--better than The Social Network.  However, the score for Interstellar sounds sci-fi, epic and classic (I heard it when my roommate listened to it once) so that could win, and Birdman's nonstop jazz drums complements the film remarkably well.  I would still put my money on Trent, though.  Verdict: Win

Overall, a satisfying film that effectively replaces the book.  I am pretty sure I am the only cynic that will go so far as to suggest that the book is rendered moot by the movie.  People will still read it on their Kindle.  (But no one will strike up a conversation if they see you reading a Kindle, unless they are super nosy and literally read over your shoulder until they can identify the text.)

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