Licorice pizza could finally win Paul Thomas Anderson an Oscar

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How to describe Paul Thomas AndersonThe curriculum of the Oscars? Over the past two decades and more, he has become one of the most reliable directors of the period, albeit still consistently kept at a distance from the Academy. He entered 2017 with six nods to his name, yet it came as a surprise when his 11th-hour film that year, the critically adored ghost thread, was cited for both best film and best director. He is revered in this city, no doubt. But the Oscars definitely make him work for it.

At this stage, eight-time nominee Anderson is clearly late for his first Oscar. And I believe, as he enters another season with a late contender, that Licorice pizza it could be the movie that makes him win.

Anderson has a clear lane, in particular, in the original script category. The writing branch has gravitated towards his work more than any other, with four of his eight nominations for his screenplays, both original and adapted. The comic-romantic, 70’s set Licorice pizza feels tailored for a category that has honored the likes of Here, bird man, Other Promising young woman of delay. And its competition so far is led by wider runners like Kenneth Branagh‘S Belfast Other Reinaldo Marcus Green‘S King Richard (written by Zach Baylin), which are not primarily distinguished by their scripts. (Remember, great champion Nomadic land lost in writing just this year.)

Of Anderson’s work, the film remembers Boogie nights Other Intrinsic Vice in its vivid recreation of a particular time and place in Los Angeles, with the Easter eggs from the first show and the vignette structure of the second. (Both scripts were nominated for an Oscar.) Of course, Licorice pizza it’s also a thing of its own, as it follows the budding connection between 25-year-old Alana Kane (Alana Haim) and teenager Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman, son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, a PTA regular) when they come of age in the San Fernando Valley. (Gary’s side of the story is loosely based on the producer’s life Gary Goetzmann.) The characters’ easy and specific relationship immediately proves to be a winner, and gives the loose narrative a firm backbone as they move in and out of each other’s lives, and take on a range of characters ranging from the ridiculous to the dangerous to, at times, both. .

Still, where the film really sings – and where I think you’ll find its true Oscar-winning potential – is in how it is felt. Anderson has never been against showing a sweeter side, exactly, but this is a very funny comedy that is also the sweetest movie he has ever made. Be it in the sheer brutality of There will be blood or the ruffled coolness of Intrinsic Vice, Anderson’s work often projects a distance – successful! Here he features people to fall in love with and warmly follows them as they navigate a wild world.

I expect the Academy to respond to this, even if it also means that the relatively low stakes of the film could translate into more demanding campaigns for the image and the director, where more externally heavier work is usually favored. (And yes, the script categories are pretty predictive of the best picture winner, but again there are exceptions.) Either way, the script is the obvious work, and there’s a lot of potential below the line. . Jonny Greenwoodthe contributions to the score take a back seat to the transporting soundtrack (the poor boy probably only has two Other films to compete with, in Spencer Other The power of the dog), but otherwise the craft is predictably precise and splendid.

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