Some stars are Oscar bait, plain and simple.
Meryl Streep jumps to mind. The superlative actress owns three Oscar statuettes plus a massive 21 nominations in total. Other superstars, like Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro and Cate Blanchett, routinely attract awards season buzz.
Clint Eastwood belongs in that rarefied group. His membership may be up, though.
The actor/director has 11 Oscar nominations to date, along with four wins. He also received an honorary Oscar, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, in 1995.
His latest film, “Richard Jewell,” is earning some of the best reviews of his late-stage career. The film recalls how the FBI and news media condemned the heroic security guard in the court of public opinion.
The cast includes three standout performances from star Paul Walter Hauser and supporting players Sam Rockwell and Kathy Bates. The last two actors previously won Oscars.
Yet “Richard Jewell” got snubbed by the Critics’ Choice Association. The minds behind the Golden Globes served up just one nomination for the film -- Best Supporting Actress for Kathy Bates.
Editor’s Note: This critic is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association.
These groups often suggest how the Oscar nominations will play out. Did Eastwood’s not so hidden attack on Fake News play a part in the film’s shocking lack of nominations?
The awards competition this year is particularly stiff, with no one movie dominating the conversation. The Golden Globes makes it harder for “Richard Jewell” by its very nature. The group organizes Best Picture nominees by two distinct categories -- “Drama” and “Comedy or Musical.” Eastwood’s film falls squarely in the former camp, and there are only five slots available.
Critics Choice offers 10 slots for Best Picture. Still, “Richard Jewell” didn’t make the cut.
Rockwell’s phenomenal performance couldn’t crack either group’s Best Supporting Actor lists. What about Hauser, nothing short of a revelation in a complicated role?
— Richard Jewell (@RJewellFilm) December 8, 2019
Mainstream movie critics love “Richard Jewell.” And, given Eastwood’s Oscar-friendly streak, that should have been enough to merit some attention.
Not this year.
“Richard Jewell” slams the mainstream media in no uncertain terms. Yet it does so with the truth at its back. The film shows actual news clippings and videos from the era to support its case. It’s only potential blemish?
Olivia Wilde’s turn as reporter Kathy Scruggs. The film suggests she slept with an FBI agent to snare a huge scoop. Yet we’re told that Scruggs, who died in 2001, never did such a thing.
That’s a big miscue, if true. “Richard Jewell” is hardly the first fact-based film to engage in creative licence. Remember that gripping airport scene at the end of “Argo?”
It never happened.
The only group so far to support Eastwood’s film is the AFI Awards. That body included “Richard Jewell” in its list of the year’s top 10 films.
It’s possible “Richard Jewell” can rebound. More critics groups will announce their awards soon, potentially boosting its Oscar hopes. Or, the film’s box office could steer it back into the Oscar conversation.
The film opens nationwide Dec. 13.
For now, its underwhelming awards season performance is a reversal of its star’s recent past. All of Eastwood’s Oscar nominations came after 1990 -- decades after he became an international star.