Straight From Shoulder

A friend has asked for a quote about the apparent sleeper-hit status of Gavin O’Connor‘s Warrior (Lionsgate, 9.9), and specifically about whether it’ll be getting any award-season action. “Not a chance in the world for Oscar impact,” I answered. “Forget it. It’s a good film, but not that kind of film.

“It’s an emotionally rousing MMA sports flick, very intensely acted and atmospherically believable as far as it goes, but it’s very calculated. You can see and feel the buttons being pushed and the levers being cranked. It’s Gavin O’Connor making another Gavin O’Connor movie. A good one, yes, but straight off the assembly line. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

“But as I wrote on 8.2, Tom Hardy is astonishing. He really is the new reigning macho-stud tough guy, the new Schwarzenegger-Stallone-Norris-Van Damme, the charismatic big fuckin’ musclebound ape with the soul of a poet, and British to boot.

People have been talking about Nick Nolte for Best Supporting Actor, I said, but he isn’t given enough material to work with, I feel. “Please forgive me, I’m sorry, lemme be your dad again,” etc. Nolte finds this guy and gives a heartfelt performance, but there’s not enough dimension to the role. Sorry.

  • scooterzz

    nolte’s big, over the top hotel room scene could easily get him the nomination…off screen, he’s been on his best behavior, has a half-dozen projects in the works and the david milch tv series…all stuff to keep the buzz going….i kinda think he’s in….

  • actionman

    just went to the box office and got tix for the sneak this coming sunday

  • JLC

    “Not a chance in the world for Oscar impact,” I answered. “Forget it. It’s a good film, but not that kind of film.”

    That’s what they probably said about Rocky. If we’ve learned nothing else about the Academy recently, we know that they like movies that leave you feeling good about yourself when you leave the theater. This would certainly seem to qualify.

  • DiscoNap

    Yeah Wells you have an has almost an inverse Poland ability to not get the Oscars. This is almost word for word what you said about The Departed five years ago:

    Now I know that was The Departed and this isn’t Scorcese, but this seems like it could happen. Especially because it could be a massive hit, MMA is peaking.

  • DiscoNap

    Ha jesus really butchered the typing there.

  • bobbyperu

    Totally disagree Jeff. Completely. I think you are criminally underrating this film and actually overrating Hardy, who is great but certainly no better than Edgerton, who is really the film’s main character, in my view.

    IAnyway, I saw this a month ago and since then, at least a half a dozen people (even press) have told me that they were “emotionally bowled over by it,” that they “loved it,” that it was “the best movie they had seen in a very long time” and that “they couldn’t wait to see it again.” As I recall, the audience in my screening was reacting viscerally not in the fight scenes, but in the scenes with Nolte where he sees the grandaughters through the window and when Hardy rejects him in the casino; ditto the off-the-wagon scene. A hardcore journalist I know indeed wept openly while sitting next to me.

    And what you are calling “calculated” and “off the assembly line” to me is more a classical plot (fissures in a family of men, fall from grace, rivalry between opposite brothers, redemption). It my view that’s more archetypal and recognizable than assembly line. Also, the big final fighht doesn’t have an ounce of rah-rah crap to it at all, it’s more akin to The Fighter in that it uses the sport as a family reunification and salvation vehicle — the winning is irrelevant and it couldn’t care less about MMA, a great thing in my book.

    The movie delivers a wallop — undeniable.

  • MikeSchaeferSF

    This is gonna be huge. Every gay guy in America will be lined up to see it opening day, for one thing.

    Hardy’s the first “macho stud tough guy” to admit to being bisexual, no?

  • mybrainismelting

    Underrating it, Jeff. A great film with great performances. Calculated? Sure. No more so than a Malick film. Hardy and Nolte are mesmerizing and I think the latter is up for award consideration. I haven’t witnessed a better pivotal scene (with almost no dialogue) than the aforementioned hotel scene between Hardy and Nolte. If only The Fighter’s fight scenes had been this electrifying, it may have grabbed some more awards.

    Now, box office wise? Who knows anymore? I can see it catching fire and doing $100m+ and I can also see it fizzling after a couple decent weeks to less than half that.

    But Hardy is the real deal. Edgerton’s fine, too, but Hardy is absolutely riveting.

  • http://http:moviebob.blogspot.com THE MovieBob

    It’s a solid movie. If it’s a big enough hit, I think it gets in. I probably wouldn’t vote for it, but it can easily get in.

    Nolte is an even easier call – good actor that everyone likes/remembers, ‘comeback from indiscretions’ story, big breakdown scene, vaugely autobiographical, etc.

  • BobbyLupo

    When a movie makes critics weep, isn’t that a pretty sure sign it will immediately fail at the box office?

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