Bret Easton Ellis Reviews Likely Oscar Contenders

irishman easter eggs

Bret Easton Ellis, author of American Psycho and most recently the memoir White, has become one of our most interesting film critics: A moviemaker who unhesitatingly speaks out about films without fear of reprisal, even while continuing to work in Hollywood.

In the latest episode of his podcast, he offers his thoughts on likely Oscar contenders The Irishman, Marriage Story and Parasite, with excursions into Ford v. Ferrari and The King.

Though the episode is for subscribers only, it’s worth a listen—as is Ellis’ blissful discussion of Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood earlier this year, in which he examines his own feelings about nostalgia and Los Angeles alongside Quentin Tarantino’s.

Also Read:8 The Irishman Inside Jokes and Callbacks

Ellis predicts a three-way Best Picture race between The Irishman, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, and Parasite. He says The Irishman “seems like a totally uncompromised vision of the world,” and calls it a work of “pure art” that “gives an audience hope that the death for this kind of theatrical experience is still around the corner and not with us just yet.”

Ellis notes that he found the subject matter perhaps overly familiar for director Martin Scorsese—while at the same time noting that the film takes a newly “funereal” approach in its presentation of mob killings, revealing them to be “basically banal business transactions.”

In his praise for Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, which depicts a divorce between a couple played by Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, Ellis says he’s heard “rustlings” that some audiences might “uselessly wonder that is at stake for an upper-middle class white family uncoupling.”

Also Read: Ellis on Things I’ve Learned as a Moviemaker

“Well, now I suppose this could be asked of any movie: Why should I care if the characters are living in bourgeois comfort? But in many ways, the movie is about losing all of your money in order to find your freedom,” Ellis says.

He also addresses the “criticism in some woke circles of Ford v. Ferrari, a gorgeously made-for-the-big-screen race car epic with a great performance by Christian Bale, who has never been more likable or winning.” (Bale, of course, had his first major adult role in the film adaptation of American Psycho.) Ellis said it was missing the point to dismiss it as a “white dad movie.”

Ellis uses his positive review of Netflix’s The King, directed by David Michôd, to talk about the state of streaming versus the experience of going to theaters. On his podcast and in his writing, Ellis proves himself a practice-what-you-preach celebrant of seeing movies for grown-ups in actual theaters, even while acknowledging the impact of Netflix and other streaming services.

He notes that The Irishman, Marriage Story, The King and Dolemite Is My Name, all of which had short theatrical releases before going to Netflix, might never have been made without Netflix’s money.

The Irishman and Marriage Story are two of the best movies of 2019. And if the only option for filmmakers to make movies this good is to go to Netflix, my suspicion is that they will—and in droves. This is the future, whether we like it or not.”

Ellis says Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, however, must be seen in a theater.

“Joon-ho is addicted to spectacle and his movies need to be seen on a large screen,” Ellis says.

He praises the film as “a crackerjack piece of filmmaking” and a “great movie,” but cuts the review relatively short to avoid too many spoilers.

We’ve barely slid down the surface of the episode, which is available here.

12 Comments

  1. Julie Schwarz

    December 4, 2019 at 10:12 am

    The Irishman-one of the most over-hyped snoozers ever to be put on screen(small, large or otherwise).

  2. Greg

    December 3, 2019 at 11:04 am

    I feel like I was the only one who didn’t like it. I don’t think it was a good story at all. It was a bunch of self-aggrandizing tropes to perpetuate the myth that they were doing something historical and important (Goodfellas meets Forest Gump?)
    instead of the truth that they were just a bunch of self-serving, self-dealing sociopaths. The whole fourth act of “look what we’ve become” or “look how far we’ve fallen” as they look back over their lives was just pathetically sad.

  3. Ronnie Deciantis

    December 3, 2019 at 8:13 am

    I believe this will be the last mob movie Mr.De Niro will make, it was a good movie to watch with a little laughter when he was made up to look younger but it is not a oscar contender, I was a senior in high school and lived not to far from the restaurant Hoffa was taken from. This is one great reason I watched it.P.S. my family was in the cement business and everyone that he was buried at the Detroit Renaissance building but it was being built, they held up construction for awhile to look for him

  4. Geoff

    December 3, 2019 at 6:20 am

    If the Academy wants to be smart, the Joker should be a contender. I mean that’s only if regaining interest in the Oscars is something they want.

  5. timothy gray

    December 3, 2019 at 6:19 am

    If Joaquin Phoenix does not win the award for best actor WE RIOT!

  6. Chester Courtland

    December 3, 2019 at 4:21 am

    The Irishman was a 3+ hour rehash of every movie that Scorsese has made throughout his career. It was plodding, it was uneven and Pacino’s portrayal of Hoffa was sad. The only good performance in the film was Ray Romano’s and Joe Pesce’s. Aside from that, it came off as a bad episode of the Soprano’s. Don’t waste your time watching this film, it’s 3 hours you’ll never get back.

  7. Milo

    December 3, 2019 at 3:27 am

    More boring films to nominate.

  8. Lou Bartulovic

    December 2, 2019 at 8:59 am

    The Irishman should not win any awards. While “the story” is a great one – the movie is unwatchable due to the “de-aging” technology used to create the film. The faces of the characters are disgustingly abnormal to view. The “younger” actors in the film were laughable to watch on the screen due to their “movements” still appearing to be that of 70 year old men despite their “younger” facial appearance. Again, the story is good — but the visual is beyond watchable. Additionally, the scene in which DeNiro beats up the grocery store owner who “pushed and shoved” his daughter is first grade level film work. The fighting scene is amateurish in which the kicking is visibly not making contact with the guy DeNiro is beating up. Additionally, it is clear that DeNiro has trouble getting his leg up to even make the scene realistic in any way shape or form. All of this despite that fact that it was the “younger” DeNiro doing the kicking and beating.

    • Glenn Bond

      December 2, 2019 at 12:35 pm

      I agree. That one scene bothered me too. The way he cupped his hands and his arms was that of an old man. Not matching the now enhanced youthfulness of his face. It looked odd. I liked the movie altogether but I felt it looked and felt like what Scorsese usually does. His trademark shots. Characters.

    • Andre Darin

      December 2, 2019 at 1:59 pm

      A suggestion: you might want to say, which is clearly your own opinion, “I found this unwatchable.” Personally, I
      find “Hamilton” and Wagner’s Ring cycle “unwatchable. I would think myself laughably arrogant if I presumed that I could speak for everyone at all times in all places by making a statement like, “Hamilton is garbage. It should never have won any Tony’s.

      That being said, apparently it is “watchable”, at least up to the scene where DeNiro settles a score for his daughter with a grocer. I’m going to assume you watched the entire film, pointing out again the obvious: it is “watchable”. It may not be “Casablanca” or “Rear Window” but you make it sound like something Ed Wood threw together.

    • Doug

      December 2, 2019 at 5:20 pm

      De-aging technology didn’t bother me in the least. Great story, well told.

    • fidel007

      December 3, 2019 at 12:13 am

      No. All those Marvel Movies are unwatchable because they all have a paper thin plot and one dimensional characters along with CG animation that never seems to understand basic laws of physics.

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