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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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'The Road's' Oscar chances take a big dive

The Road Having just read Variety critic Todd McCarthy's brutal takedown of "The Road" today, I'm guessing that Oscar watchers everywhere are checking this movie off their prime best picture contender list. The long-delayed movie, adapted from Cormac McCarthey's 2006 bestseller, was supposed to be the Weinstein Co.'s top Oscar candidate this year (along with "Nine," its Rob Marshall-directed musical). But it's hard to imagine a prestige film, which is poised to make its debut at a string of upcoming fall film festivals, getting a worse review so early in awards season.

McCarthy doesn't beat around the bush. He begins his review by saying: "This 'Road' leads nowhere,'' going on to say that the movie "falls dispiritingly short on every front, showing clear signs of being test-screened and futzed with to death." The film is set in a post-apocalyptic rural America, with a father and son wandering the barren landscape, fending off many unfriendly marauders. But according to McCarthy, the film's director, John Hillcoat, "just hopscotches from scene to scene in almost random fashion without any sense of pacing or dramatic modulation." As for Viggo Mortensen, who plays the lead role, McCarthy says he "lacks the gravitas to carry the picture; suddenly resembling Gabby Hayes with his whiskers and wayward hair."

Despite the wonderful treatment McCarthy got from the Coen brothers with "No Country for OId Men," it sounds like lightning is not poised to strike twice.

Image: From "The Road." Credit: Macall Polay / Dimension Films

Comments () | Archives (23)

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what a is an incredible book-and i think Mortensen can be an amazing actor too--i was looking forward to this being a great movie...once again, too many cooks in the soup=an inedible (and unviewable) MESS

"Having just read Variety critic Todd McCarthy's brutal takedown of "The Road" today, I'm guessing that Oscar watchers everywhere are checking this movie off their prime best picture contender list."

I have not seen this movie yet, but I'm hoping the Oscar voters are willing to make up their own minds and not discount a movie because of what one critic has said - have you read Denby's flame of Tarrantino in The New Yorker? That was brutal, but I went to see the movie and decide for myself. Denby made some interesting points, but thankfully I enjoyed "Basterds" a lot more than he did. I decided it's better to watch Tarrantino for entertainment rather than for a taste of cinema-as-art, a long time ago.

This is totally ridiculous. This film has not yet been released, and "Oscar watchers everywhere are checking [it] their prime best picture contender list"? LA Times and Patrick Goldstein, you have sunk to a new low. Why don't you invest more time in writing about the filmmaking process, and giving reviews of artistic films more space in your printed paper, rather than writing about box office results and Hollywood award gossip? It's really sad to see such a good paper stoop to this kind of cheesy Perez Hilton-style trash. It's blog postings like this that kill small and challenging films before they ever get a chance to reach an audience. Grow up and go back to journalism school.

I didn't know one guys review could tank an Oscar bid.
Especially that one guy being a critic for a trade publication.

Are you serious? A blog about what a reviewer said about a movie. PLLease! First of all, Variety is an industry rag. Its film reviews have always been hack jobs, not thoughtful analyes of film as art. So if one relies on what an industry rag says about a film, then that person really does not like movies as anything other than a profit unit. Secondly, if Cormac McCarthy actually said that Vigo Mortenson does not have the gravitas, then he is full of himself. Although he is a great novelist, McCarthy does not create great characters. He creates wonderful, wistful tone poems. Characters are not central to his themes. What the forces of fate and nature do to the characters is important. And setting a mood is, too. Lastly, if you want to comment about a film, see the damn thing; don't get all bitchy and girlie and snarky about what someone else said.

You all know of course what this means to a lot of us unwashed movie public. This is the movie to watch! Vigo Mortensen is a great actor. Sorry Variety!

How many hours until Nikki Finke writes the same story and claims it as an exclusive?

As a follow-up to this blog, I scanned the net for mentions of "The Road" with regard to reviews or impressions from festivals. I am getting a different impression than the one presented here by Mr. Goldstein and Todd McCarthy. The impression from the net is that this is a good film. The further impression is that Vigo did a very good interpretation of the Father character. There is an excellent, in-depth review of the film with background commentary on the process of bringing the book to the screen in Esquire magazine online. This leaves me with a further distate for disjointed pronunciations from a blogger about what a single reviewer has to say about a film. It would seem that Mr. Goldstein is trying to cast Mr. McCarthy as having more credibility as a reviwer than he really has. I repeat that Variety is an industry rag whose sole purpose is to write about profitability in Hollywood. Its reviews rarely touch upon the artistry of films. It fauns over the likes of Michael Bay and Bruce Willis' Die Hard films. It is uncomfortable commenting on real content in films or the idea of film as an art form.

So you're saying that YOU haven't seen the movie yet? And - have I got this right- based on one incredibly snarky, meanspirited review [and disregarding the mostly positive reviews the film is receiving) by ONE critic that, we should all just fuhgetabout watching "The Road"?

Wow! This Todd McCarthy guy must be one special dude...I probably can't thank him enough for taking the time to form my opinion for me!

Oh wait, he only did that to you, right, Patrick?

Did you even think this through?

Why are you writing this as though Todd McCarthy, the guy who thought Oliver Stone's egregious Natural Born Killers was some kind of dazzling masterpiece, had a shred of cred?

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