Mister Tee wrote
Around midnight, post-screening tweets started appearing that were near-rapturous, and the Awards Watch children were declaring the best picture race over. Then, this morning, legit reviews were filed, with significantly different takes.
This might be the biggest fall of any buzzed-about contender so far this year. The Goldfinch was trailing negative word all the way; this one was thought to have major potential. It's going to take some kind of audience comeback for this to make any impact.
I think it might get that audience comeback.
Although, I'll say up front that it currently has a 55% on RT on the basis of 11 reviews. It's certain to rise from there but it might not crack 75% which is a bad sign. Green Book survived similar reviews but if its main competition wasn't a three hour black and white Mexican Netflix film, I'm not sure it would.
Jojo Rabbit might not end up winning Best Picture but I think it remains a strong enough contender because it might not need critical validation. It seems to be more of an audience film and those involved know it. With its whimsical touches (soundtrack, slow-motion, etc), it seems to be courting a younger audience but as a WWII comedy it also reaches out to older audiences as well. Couple that with a hot young auteur making his passion project (Taika Watiki, who truly is worshipped among younger audiences) and the studio that knows how to make this better than anything else (Fox Searchlight) and it looks like a big ol' hit.
But there are two more reasons why I think it can weather this storm:
- It preaches to the choir when folks need the music.
This is clearly a movie (an "anti-hate" parable) that flatters and does not challenge the audience. But it does so in a time when audiences are so triggered and sad on a daily basis that they might not mind something desperately unchallenging. This is the same bloc that honored Green Book last year, but it can claim to be an anti-Trump vote.
- It's an underdog.
Disney brass is apparently quite uneasy about this film. Thus, Jojo Rabbit is now a controversial film. Perhaps even a dangerous film. Championing Jojo Rabbit allows voters (who are themselves likely fearful of an all-blockbuster future) to stand up to Disney and make a statement for art vs. commerce. Or at least the appearance of it.
I think it can survive the reviews.