Nominations: Best Actor (Denzel Washington), Best Original Screenplay (John Gatins)Wins/Snubs: While there are still 10 days to go before the big show, we know that Denzel isn't going to take it this year. Daniel Day-Lewis has a lock, with Bradley Cooper possibly being the dark horse. Screenplay, too, is not going to Flight, but that one is harder to call.
This is a great performance, don't get me wrong. Washington has every right to be up there. But this is not a great movie, but I'll admit I'm having trouble separating several issues I have with this film. First, it's not my cup of tea - I'm really not a fan of watching people go through addiction, and Washington plays Whip Whitaker, an airline pilot with a SERIOUS alcohol and cocaine problem. However, I really like his performance - he's nuanced and doesn't actually seem to care that his life is a mess. He knows he is damned lucky to be alive with that kind of addiction, but he even says at one point, it's his choice. And, thanks to a miraculous series of events, he saves almost everyone on a doomed flight that essentially falls from the sky, which makes him feel a little bit like he deserves to be a treated like a hero. He even attempts to act the part by getting rid of all of this booze after the crash (partly to act the part of the hero, and partly as an attempt to really be a good guy).
Unfortunately, I never got behind the story this movie is telling, which is why I don't think it's got a shot at Best Original Screenplay. In the hospital, after the crash, Whip meets Nichole, a recovering addict in the hospital after an overdose, but getting clean. He helps her out and they stick together for a little bit, until she realizes she'll never stay sober with him. Don Cheadle did help the story a bit as the attorney for the pilot's union who has blocked some damning evidence (he was high and drunk during the crash, but that didn't cause it and may have saved the plane), and actually wants to help this guy he thinks is a hero - we get to see our own frustrations acted out in Cheadle's eyes. Because it is frustration. There is nothing new in this story of addiction, he falls down, he falls down some more, he makes an attempt, he fails, and eventually, like all addicts, he reforms or dies. They didn't actually pull on the audience heartstrings by making us feel his heroism much after the first 30 minutes. They play on it being a miracle, or luck, but only in one great scene by Cheadle do we think the save might actually something to do with Washington. Meh. 2.5/5 stars