Vice screened tonight for the SAG nominating committee and looks to do what The Big Short did last year, at least in terms of the acting. Although there is a review embargo up I can talk about the screening. In a packed theater in Westwood, there was some press – with Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Tyler Perry and writer/director Adam McKay all in attendance for the q&a. It’s not really a film where you leap to your feet with a standing ovation afterwards. It is too sobering and hard-hitting for that. Believe me, you will want to burst into tears more than you’ll want to do anything, despite the film’s “light touch” throughout.
The blackest of black comedies ran for roughly two hours and did seem to hold its audience in its thrall throughout. Christian Bale is, as the trailers promised, astonishing as Dick Cheney. So good you really do forget you’re watching an actor. At times I even thought I was watching Lynn Cheney, played so well by Amy Adams. Adams has finally gotten to a point in her career where she can play a woman passing through middle and old age. Her Lynn is hard, loyal, and as cold as ice as her husband.
The brilliance in Bale’s performance and in McKay’s film is that somehow you do end up having some sympathy for Dick Cheney. Bale plays him that way – in a way that we understand where he’s coming from even if we don’t agree with it. That is the kind of thing only the best of the best can do.
The Oscar race will have to make room for this film – though most of us had it down. Most definitely for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Screenplay, if not Picture and Director. Steve Carell might also be in for Supporting Actor. If I had my way, Sam Rockwell would get in too but his part might not be big enough.
It’s possible that there are four acting nominations from this one movie. But before we can make any Best Picture assessments, we really do have to wait for the reviews. I can’t wait to write mine. I have a lot to say about it.
The Best Actor race has no frontrunner currently, but it could be Bradley Cooper. It could be Viggo Mortensen. I think you have to put Christian Bale above both of them, at least for now, as I don’t know that there is a better male performance this year than Bale’s.
Supporting Actress might also be Amy Adams’ to lose. I think we need to wait and see a bit on this movie – to see how it lands, when it lands. As we know now, a lot can happen between a screening and a movie making landfall.
I will say this about it: The only way to get the truth out anymore is through art. You can’t get it from news. You mostly can’t get it from politicians. Artists are obligated to deliver the truth. Maybe some would say, well this movie is no better than a right-wing screed, or a “Clinton Cash” that exists only to smear someone. Some will see it that way. But they will be required, in their attack on the film, to find the lie. Find the part that isn’t true. Find the speculation and Pizza-gate-like exaggeration.
The truth is in short supply and sometimes it’s up to the satirists who must present the absurd in response to the monstrous.