It is well know that the Academy Awards overlook certain films. Nominations come out, frowns appear, and jaws can drop. After all, a lot of films come out every year. I’m talking about a thousand or so films.
However, this year, the Academy of Arts and Sciences had some severe misses. Overlooking Bradley Cooper for masterfully directing A Star Is Born; failing to acknowledge Tim Wardle’s amazing documentary, Three Identical Strangers or Morgan Neville’s Fred Rodgers documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor; misplacing complete adoration for Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk.
All of those misses considered, there was no bigger snub than the near-complete dismissal of John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place.
Clocking in at a crisp and lean 90 minutes exactly, here was a movie that aimed, and dramatically succeeded, in being something different. A wholly original and ruggedly unique cinematic endeavor that redefined how a horror film can work, Krasinski’s thriller didn’t waste a second of our time while scaring us and emotionally connecting with our hearts and minds.
It didn’t take more than 5 minutes for you to fall in love with this family of survivors trying to escape the clutches of mysterious alien creatures, who crash-landed on Earth, commencing a full-blown apocalypse by preying on the sound made by humans. From the first shocking death to the ultimate sacrifice to the final cocking of the shotgun at the last second, this film pulsated through our veins like a perfectly constructed cup of coffee; an organically pulled shot of espresso with the intent on being different.
Krasinski and real life wife Emily Blunt soulfully embodied Lee and Evelyn Abbott, parents to Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe). Unlike previous movies involving the presumed end of the world or an alien invasion, Krasinski’s film dropped us right into the action without a word of prologue. There was no setup provided. A President reading an address or a newscaster describing the carnage. Just assorted newspaper clippings and a basement full of clues and a plan of action constructed by Lee as part of an ongoing survival method.
One of the best parts of the film, aside from the vivid thrills and gorgeous cinematography, was the heartfelt moments injected into the script. Lee and Evelyn slow-dancing to a song playing in ear buds. Lee and Marcus next to the waterfall, where they could make as much noise as possible. The sweet and tender final exchange between Lee and Regan. Remember 98% of the film is performed without dialogue, laying all the weight on the actors pulling off facial expressions and physical acting.
It’s hard to discuss the film without the nail-biting final act, which includes some of Blunt’s best work an actress. Finding uncomfortable confinement in a bathtub or behind basement stairs, Evelyn has to take drastic measures to protect her children, and Krasinski’s loving camera technique never wavers too far from her eyes. One could say it’s because they are a couple in real life that the chemistry and working connection is found so easily; I’ll just tell you they are both great actors and storytellers.
During a time where the Academy has taken chances, coining Netflix films in Best Picture and acting categories while giving a nod to Marvel’s Black Panther, I thought they wouldn’t be afraid to acknowledge an outside-the-box talent like A Quiet Place. A movie that tried to rewrite what cinematic intensity could mean in the right hands. I guess I was wrong. A 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and glowing critical acclaim along with a solid box office performance apparently means little.
Blunt was recognized by the Screen Actors Guild last month thankfully for her performance, but I wanted the Oscars to be bold as well. This film deserved nods across the board. Picture, directing, screenwriting, and acting. The only Oscar nomination it could muster was Sound Editing. As great as it was, let me remind you that ordinary action films often get a nod there. Will the Academy even show the presentation of that award, now that it’s cutting categories from the live broadcast in a lame duck attempt to attract more viewers?
A Quiet Place deserved better. It was the epitome of something else, the thing moviegoers flock to when they buy a ticket. If you didn’t leave this film blown away, someone peed in your cereal that morning. Go watch it again. I dare you to disagree with me.
One day, films from all genres will get the right amount of respect from The Academy. Some day hopefully not too far from now.