The Big Picture

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

September 3, 2009 |  1:50 pm

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