I cannot remember dear cineastes, dear readers, dear theater lovers of literature, when I have been so completely, so madly, so deliciously transported by a new film. And that film is the much hyped Cannes opener “Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen, 77 and now at the absolute height of his immense creative powers. “Midnight in Paris” left me gasping with delight. It’s his latest masterpiece and may simply be the best film he’s ever made.
It’s so delicious, so delightful, so funny, so superbly acted, and brilliantly written and directed. It’s the first film that I’ve seen since “The King’s Speech” that transports you to an absolute height of cinematic euphoria. And Oscar’s gonna go there, too.
I am so sure that the little Golden Guy is going to be happily boarding that magic carpet ride in the form of a 1920’s roadster that whisks our hapless hero, a frustrated screenwriter and Woody stand-in(natch), Owen Wilson, who turns out to be at the height of HIS career as an actor, in this film, too. Oscar will clamour aboard that flying flivver and happily take it right to the Kodak Pavillion next February, which is where this film is surely going to end up.
With nominations galore. A comedy winning anything from the Academy is always going to be a fight.
However, the Academy has always loved Woody and they’re going to REALLLLY love “Midnight in Paris”. Woody is such Oscar catnip, it’s almost ridiculous.Oscar considers Woody in a class by himself, so many of his films have been nominated and won! Well, no, that’s not true. I think the only time he won Best Picture was for “Annie Hall” decades ago.
But his actors have continued to wrack up Oscar after Oscar, most notably and most recently Penelope Cruz, in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” which this film resembles. “Midnight in Paris” is shot entirely and beautifully in Paris in the daytime and at night, and France and specifically Paris has seemed to have had the same wondrous effect on Allen’s creativity that Barcelona and Spain did with “Vicky Cristina”
“Midnight in Paris” is just suffused with the golden glow of romance that is true love (in this case, the love of France and all things French) that is so palpable, it seems like it was shot through a lens covered with honey. And written in a Proustian fever dream. But a reverie only of all things light and sweet.
It’s such a charming love poem to the City of Lights, it’s irresistible. It sends you into a Rapture.
And what a cast! And How many Oscar winners are there in this one film! ? It’s like the word went out and Allen got the dream cast of his career!
Oscar winner Marion Cotillard has never been lovelier or sexier or more captivating. She plays the love object, the muse of Picasso, Modigliani and nearly every other artist of the past two hundred years, and Mlle. Cotillard, so so sensual and intriguing,completely vulnerable, effortlessly enchanting, but so mysterious, you can see that, yes, she could easily have inspired all these great artists that the film claims she has.
Her incredible character named Adriana is one of Allen’s greatest creations. And in writing a love poem to Paris, he’s embodied that romance in one woman, Adrianna, and Cotillard is so delightful, and endearing and sublime, you just can’t wait til her character comes back onscreen and into the story once again.
It’s one of the most challenging roles that Allen has ever written for a woman and the most complex, and Cotillard meets every challenge stupendously. She has to, for the romance of the film to work. She is Paris. Paris is love. So therefore the glowing Cotillard is Paris personified.
She is WOMAN. All the women who have inspired the greatest of artists, and Cotillard shows you quite simply and quite beautifully that yes, she is all that. She’s certainly inspired Allen to heights he’s never really hit before. A great film maker meets the great screen actress in the best role he’s ever written for a woman. Will Oscar take note? I think so. I hope so.
You come out of the film raving about Cotillard as if she were the essence of all the best in French art and culture, and in this film, she is!
Her only petite problem is that she’s won so recently for “La Vie En Rose” playing an indelible Edith Piaf.
Acting in her own language, it seemed impossible that she, an unknown French actress, would win the Oscar for Best Actress. But I predicted she would. Could her Adriana do the magic hat trick of another win? Depends upon whom she’s up against, but I would be shocked if she wasn’t in the running, dismissed as simply a great beauty playing a great beauty.
Owen Wilson is so good in this film that you can’t believe it’s Owen Wilson.
But he is and he’s just terrific, and perfectly cast as a WASP neurotic from Pasadena. Wilson’s West Coast-ness takes away any of the memories of the many previous iterations Allen has wrung upon the character of the hung-up writer. This time a dissatisfied, but commercially successful screenwriter, with an even blonder fiancee, who’s a bit of an hysterical bitch, played by of all people, Rachel MacAdams, also at the top of HER game. She, too, is a revelation.
Oh, and did I forget to mention how funny all these characters are? And yes, they are. Very, very funny. You’ll be quoting the laugh lines for the rest of the season.
Academy Award Winner Adrian Brody does this best work since “The Pianist” as of all people Salvatore Dali! In a very brief cameo, he keeps repeating. “Dali! I’m Dali!” and when Wilson’s Gil explains his time-traveling problems, Brody as Dali quips, “It’s perfectly normal. You are from another century, yet you live in this century.” And Luis Bunuel, who’s sitting with them, mais oui, says to Dali, “Of course you think it’s normal, you’re a Surrealist!”
And Marion’s Adrianna is restless, perpetually bored with Paris in the 1920’s. “There are too many Americans here!” or exasperated with Pablo, “Picasso is impossible! He will never have a successful relationship with a woman!”
Hallucinating Wilson keeps having his big blue eyes popping out of his head, like some great silent screen comedian, as he channels, Chaplin, Oliver Hardy, Harold Lloyd…amazingly…yes, it’s the VERY unlikely Owen Wilson, making us laugh and moving us so magically. He’s playing straight man as it were to Cotillard’s muse, MacAdams’ bitchy fiancee and a supporting cast of unparalleled splendor.
Main among them, as I’ve noted in a previous post, newcomer Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway, who just about walks off with the film, and probably an Oscar nomination. And so to may Kathy Bates as a marvelously sensible, warm-hearted Gertrude Stein. “Our house is open to every artist! All are welcome here!” she intones with such bonhommie, you want to move right in to 23 Rue de Fleurus and never leave, which clearly Allen wants to do.
Who but Woody Allen would make Gertrude Stein the most reasonable and warm center of a filmic masterpiece. Which is what “Midnight in Paris” is.
I see Nominations for Best Picture. In a field of ten, a sure bet. Best Director, possibly, for Allen. FOR SURE a Best Original Screenplay and this is it’s almost sure WIN. Yes, I’m saying it now.
They’ll nominate the living daylights out of this magnificent cinematic achievement. Starting with Darius Khondji’s marvelously seductive, luminous cinemtography of the City of Lights, the stunning production design by Annie Seibel that is literally out of this world (and several others) and the sumptuous costumes by Sonia Grande, who makes Mlle. Cotillard comme il faut tous le temps, but it’s the hilarious, moving, beautifully written screenplay that really does leave you gasping with astonishment and delight. Woody Allen redeems himself mightily in “Midnight in Paris” and the many, many Oscars it will get nominated for, this astoundingly simple, but complicated and FUNNY screenplay is the most likely place it will be rewarded.
Also both Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard might be nominated for Best Actor and Actress. It depends on who they are up against. And if they are not dismissed ~ for being in a comedy.
And as I said previously the one with the most buzz out of the Cannes Film Festival, which it opened, was Corey Stall as Hemingway. That would be in Supporting. And previous Oscar winner Kathy Bates could score ANOTHER Supp. Actress nomination for her lovable lesbian Gertrude Stein.
Gertrude Stein, lovable? Only in Woody Allen’s wild world!
Mesdames and monsieurs, les envelopes, s’il vous plait!