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« Robert Altman Chosen for First-Ever AFI Retrospective| Main| TIFF: "The Breadwinner"is a visual stunner »
Thursday
Sep 14 2017

The hyped mysteriousness of "mother!" pre-release

Ongoing adventures atTIFF

During Oscar season awards journalists often receive little bits of swag in the mail,cupcakes when Jennifer Aniston was trying to get nominated forCake,a lux coffee table book on Los Angeles whenLa La Landwas in the race,a stuffed Olaf during theFrozenyear.That sort of thing.My favorite mail came from the creative and memorable campaign forBlack Swan.The first thing to arrive was a black envelope with no return address.Inside were three black and white feathers.That was it.No message,no card,no return address,no explanation.Creepy.By the time the season was in full swing and the movie was familiar a mirrored music box was the perfect curio to arrive.

I thought of that feather-filled envelope when I finally sat down to see Darren Aronofsky'smother!The director's latest mindf*** has arrived preceded by a cryptic website,a baffling teaser,painted symbol-filled posters and a red-herring poster that makes the film look like a remake ofRosemary's Babyespecially given its title (spoiler alert: the actual films bear almost no resemblance).Some journalists even received a cake that looked like a charred heart -- the organ,not the ♥ --  though I did not.(What,I'm not bitter.Just hungry).The invitation for the premiere said to "dress for a funeral."Jennifer Lawrence wore a white dress suspiciously like the one in the movie's teaser poster,absent the blood stains.

The theater of the film continues even before it begins.When we arrived to the press screenings at TIFF,we were given a white card withmother!debossed on it in that floridly curling font.On the other side a poem.

mothers prayer

our mother who art underfoot,
hallowed be they names,
thy seasons come,thy will be done,
within us and around us,
thank you for our daily bread,our water,our air,
and our lives and so much beauty;
lead us not into selfish craving and the destructions
that are hungers of the glutted,
but deliver us from wanton consumption
of they vast but finite beauty,
for thine is the only sphere of life we know,
and the power and the glory,forever and ever.
amen

adapted by rebecca solnit

If all movies were released with this much creativity and suggestive atmosphere rather than spoiler-filled trailers,moviegoing would be so much more exciting.

new couple Jennifer Lawrence and Darron Aronofsky at the NYC premiere yesterday

My full review will be up tomorrowbut I won't leave you hanging about La Pfeiffer.Michelle Pfeiffer is sensational as "woman"(no characters have names in the film) in her big screen return.I could watch her scenes on loop for days and plan to when screener season begins.

P.S.if there's enough interest in the film post release maybe I'll write multiple reviews that you'll give meobstructionsfor...like you're Lars von Trier or something for curveball 'how about these insane directors?' kicks.More details (perhaps) to come.

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Reader Comments (37)

Any shot at an Oscar nom for J-Law or La Pfeiffer?

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarc

Marc - Pfeiffer yes.JLaw no.

September 14,2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nat: I know your love for Aronosksky.I'm not in that boat.Critics I respect from my country are calling this a pretentious mess.
Which,for me,it's an oxymoron for DA:(

September 14,2017 | Unregistered Commenterchofer

"Marc - Pfeiffer yes.JLaw no."

LORD!AMEN!NO JLAW!PFEIFFER YES!

HEAVEN ON EARTH!

GLENN CLOSE BEST ACTRESS.
GARY OLDMAN BEST ACTOR.
'CHELLE BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS.

LORD,LORD,LORD!

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJon

I'm seeing this tonight.I can't wait.

Why no for JLaw?Too crowded of a field?Even critics who seem mixed on the film (like Stephanie Zacharaek of TIME) are unanimous in their praise for her.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Jon: I can't really buy she's dead.If she could squeak in for something with Joy's reviews (either Amy Poehler for Inside Out or,if the Academy's actors weren't willing to go for the landmark nomination,Lily Tomlin for Grandma should have gotten in before her,easily),she could squeak in for this,which has slightly better reviews.

My guess:

1.Sally Hawkins,The Shape of Water
2.Meryl Streep,The Papers (Win Fight)
3.Frances McDormand,Three Billboards Outside Ebbing,Missouri
4.Kate Winslet,Wonder Wheel
(Fight for the last)
5.Rebecca Hall,Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
6.Charlotte Rampling,Hannah (They'll qualify it,trust me)
6/7.Jennifer Lawrence,mother!
7/8.Emma Stone,Battle of the Sexes

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Volvagia,not to mention Chastain,Close (if 2017),Bening,Dench,Ronan,Pike,Emma Thompson,Robbie...

I don't buy Lawrence as not having a shot though.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterArlo

Vovalgia

Sight unseen,but disqualifiying the natural charms of the adorable Saoirse Ronan seem pretty short-sighted to me.I remember when she was nominated for Brooklyn,she received arguably the highest cheers out of the lot.I mean,she's also adored and she should be tied with Hawkins in your list (at least) imo.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered Commenterchofer

I have a feeling Chastain will be in the conversation pretty high,too.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered Commenterchofer

Saoirse Ronan is one of the frontrunners for Lady Bird.She and the film have rave reviews.I think we should start considering Picture,Director,Supporting Actress,and Original Screenplay possibilities for it too.It really seems to be a crowdpleaser,and one that Academy members could really warm to - like they did for Juno.

Emma Thompson's film is being pushed to 2018.A24 bought the rights.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

but people you'll know when you see mother!-- it's not a showcase for Lawrence's acting.It's very much a director's film (the hardest kind to get nominated for in some ways) and she's a very passive character limited to just a few emotions.Compared to her nominated roles the character is a mere sketch and idea rather than a "character"

In all honestly I'd be shocked if she was nominated for it,despite her previous multiple nominations.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Poppy,er...sorry,Hawkins,will allways be in my permanent list of actors I will see no matter what!

September 14,2017 | Unregistered Commenterchofer

If the film is a "director's film"and it's that divisive,then why would Pfeiffer get nominated for it?The competition in this category is heating up as well,with Metcalf,Spencer,Janney (probably a contender for the win,considering how much actors love her),Leo,Hong Chau,and perhaps KST and Mary J.Blige.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Sounds like Pfeiffer is the scenery chewing type of role and JLaws is played more straight (e.g.Bale to whalberg in the fighter or ledger to bale in the dark knight).Also,best actress is VERY competitive.


With that said,JLaw's reviews are pretty ecstatic so we'll see.I'll have to see it for myself.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

Wouldn't any nominations for "mother"also depend on how it does with audiences?Unless it's a hit,this movie may be forgotten by October 1.I could be wrong,but I don't think enough people will have any continuing interest in it after it's been in theaters for a week or two

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterCrystall Marie Balls

Nathaniel take my hand in prayer.We are in agreement that televised precursors will go Pfeiffer consecutively.Specifically Critics Choice,the Globes,and SAG.Amen.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Nat,what do your eyes and ears tell you about Pfeiffer's Oscar chances?Is it really true that she's the front-runner?I know that Oscars are a lot about personality and politics,亚博主页rather than performance.I want to be wrong,but I think Pfeiffer's chances are slim.

If film critics and Oscar voters don't rally for Lawrence,they won't rally for Pfeiffer,especially when (1) mother!is Lawrence's film,(2) Pfeiffer has competition from actresses in more Oscar-friendly roles,and (3) Pfeiffer probably won't campaign,but the other four actresses in the category most likely will.

Pfeiffer was only in Venice,then left the spotlight.She wasn't at the London,Paris,Toronto,or New York premieres.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterClaire Haegl

It feels like Chastain is in Michelle Pfeiffer's 1989-1993 period: Annual star turns,perennial Golden Globe nominations,no rhyme or reason about what becomes an Oscar hit.She's working so consistently and carrying so many movies that it seems normal for her work not to get nominated.

I could see her getting a Love Field nomination for something inferior to the other performances in her filmography.But I will remain skeptical when anyone considers her a "sure thing."She hasn't been a sure thing in years,and it's not because her work hasn't been good.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

Claire - To be fair re: Pfeiffer's absences,Aronofsky has said that she had a family emergency and deeply regrets not being able to be there.I was at the Toronto Film Festival premiere and he made it a point to mention this.I'm hoping she'll be able to campaign once this has been cleared up.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJesse T

Re: "Pfeiffer won't campaign."

This is a perfect time to remind everyone that Sean Penn never campaigned either,much less attended any ceremonies,until he became the frontrunner for the win forMystic River.Then he was everywhere smiling and playing nice and visibly caring.If the tide of critical and/or commercial response turns in her favor,I have every faith that she will play the game.People will remember that they like her and that she's legend,as evidenced by my cousins' reaction when she appeared in two movie trailers at our showing ofItlast week.They were like,"Michelle,where you been,girl?Yaaasss."

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Please,no more Oscars or Oscar nods for J-Law.亚博主页Give Michelle Pfeiffer her overdue Oscar.If that doesn't happen.I'll call Evan Rachel Wood so she can invite J-Law to her SUPERKICK!!!!!!!!party.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

Nathaniel,so happy to hear we won't have to endure Jlaw's insufferable antics come awards season!All her bleating on about how she tore a diaphragm hyperventilating...alright DiCaprio.No-one cares what you're doing to your birth control;you didn't deserve your first Oscar and you sure as hell don't deserve a second!

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterEmma

Crystal - I caught film two nights ago and there is no way the film will be forgotten in two weeks.Audiences have another things coming.

I agree with Nat,that Pfeiffer is the best chance for a nomination.And I think there is enough love for her and respect for her career to carry her there ifthe buzz sustains itself.Lawrence will definitely be in discussion because it's Lawrence but yes,it's hard to imagine in this competitive year that the role would be nominated.She is perfectly cast in a very difficult role though.I also wouldn't rule out Bardem if they push him supporting.

I do hope the film gets some technical recognition.It is is quite astoundingly made,if hard to stomach.I hope voters give it a look in.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

thevoid99: Evan Rachel Wood as The President of the United States in...Saints Row.Who else would watch that?

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Note: Yes,that does mean that I think a Saints Row adaptation should just start at Saints Row IV.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Peter Travers ( Rolling Stone famous critic ) said that Michelle performance in Mother is a OSCAR one.But also he has been very pro-Pfeiffer all the time.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterGian

Claire -- while it's true that Pfeiffer is not the campaigning sort (believe me i've tried to get an interview multiple times) with certain stars their stardom is enough to keep them in the conversation if the circumstances are right.I think the story of it being her "comeback"when she's so good in it,could help.and she's got the most audience friendly scenes even for people who don't actually like the movie (both because she's so good and because the character is the most "fun"in the movie)

but yeah,it's still kind of going to be a tough haul.she'll need precursors and a lot of people will hate the movie.and that category is definitely getting crowded.

WIDELY CONSIDERED THE MVPS OF THEIR MOVIE
Allison Janney (I Tonya)
Holly Hunter (The Big Sick)
Michelle Pfeiffer (mother!)
Melissa Leo (Novitiate)
Hong Chau (Downsizing)

THEIR MOVIES BEING CONTENDERS COULD MAKE THEM REAL THREATS SINCE PEOPLE LIKE THEIR PERFORMANCES,TOO
Kristin Scott Thomas (Darkest Hour)
Mary J Blige (Mudbound)
Carey Mulligan (Mudbound)
Octavia Spencer (Shape of Water)

OTHER POSSIBILITIES
Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)

MOVIES THAT COULD CHANGE THIS CONVERSATION ONCE PEOPLE SEE THEM...
The Papers
The Greatest Showman
Wonder Wheel
Phantom Thread

SEEMS STRANGE THAT THERE'S NOT MORE CONVERSATION ABOUT THEM
Julie Walters (Film Stars)
Betty Gabriel (Get Out)
Catherine Keener (Get Out)
Julianne Moore (Wonderstruck)

September 14,2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Yeah,I think La Pfeiffer has narrative "heat"on her side.She's (somewhat surprisingly,at least to me) still very much on the pop-culture radar,and her legendary status continues to grow.Giving a well-reviewed,scene-stealing performance in a galvanizing film may be just what the doctor (AMPAS) ordered to get her that long-awaited,well-deserved Oscar.One can hope...

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Nathaniel,what about Maslany and Richardson in Stronger?If Gyllenhaal gets in (which is looking likely) they're surely hovering around somewhere.Both had very good notices.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterBillyBob

Nat: Someone I think you should probably add to one of those categories for supporting is Bella Heathcote.Yes,the Marston movie.The movie's pretty well reviewed,from what I can tell,and we've never really seen a biopic like this,where the subject is intrinsically tied to one of the year's box office smashes.It'd be like a Tolkien biopic dropping around 2001-2003,or a Stan Lee or Steve Ditko Biopic in 2002,or a Bill Mantlo (the creator of Rocket Raccoon,who got involved in a tragic collision) biopic in 2014.Something tells me if those prospective biopics happened when I'm suggesting,even if they were The Imitation Game or Theory of Everything level (and,again,it seems this one is above that level),they'd be getting substantial chunks of the nomination pies.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Stronger looks awful.I think that film and its award chances will tank

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

Nathaniel - I really hope Michelle Pfeiffer in mother!is not similar to Barbara Hershey in Black Swan or Debra Winger in Rachel Getting Married in which if they had a couple more showcase scenes they would have been at least nominated.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered Commenterjack

jack -- we'll see.I think she's impactful enough to overcome the screentime but response to the film itself might get in her way.

September 14,2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Yeah—I just got out of a screening of mother!and nothing I've read could have prepared me for where it...goes.

The first half and second half are so different (very connected,but radically different) that it felt like a double feature.For what it's worth,I loved the movie Michelle Pfeiffer was in.And I think she richly deserves to be rewarded for it.

It's thrilling to see,though,if you can keep your eyes open.

September 14,2017 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

Wow!People like mother!a lot more than I did,that's for sure.

First and foremost,I saw it for Pfeiffer.I don't think she was given very much to do.There definitely was not enough of her for me.(Is there ever enough???)

September 15,2017 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

Just got out of the screening,and wow.Will be processing it for days.It's definitely an astonishing feat,but my boyfriend and I were saying when leaving the theatre that some audience members are going to despise this film with a passion.

I disagree that Lawrence's character only shows a few emotions - I thought she went through the wringer in this film and it was by far her most committed and focused performance to date (on the level of Winter's Bone).She's definitely an audience surrogate,but she's also in every scene in the film and rarely leaves the screen.Actors have been nominated and won for doing much less in their films (like JLaw's own performance in Silver Linings Playbook,IMO).

Pfeiffer is delicious in her role and I wanted more of her...she's definitely more impactful than Hershey in Winter's Bone.The film reminded me of a two-act play,and was very much structured like that.

I have no idea how this will fare in the awards season...I could see more adventurous members of the Academy going for Lawrence and Pfeiffer - like those who went for the three leads in The Master,another difficult film.Cinematography was strong and could be a factor,and the production design was excellent.But this will certainly be a film that is hotly debated and dissected in the coming months ahead.

September 15,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

I'm all for performances in and films like mother!to be nominated,so I hope it happens if it's warranted.It'd be crazy if Pfeiffer actually won for this.Gonna make me sad again about Barbara Hershey though.

The Papers is called The Post again.The ensemble might be too big,but there are Brie,Paulson and Coon that could factor in.I think the Greatest Showman will be DOA.Who knows about Wonder Wheel,but I'd live for Debi Mazar to get a sizeable role and kill it.

September 15,2017 | Unregistered CommenterArlo

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