Movies, Marketing, and Mediocrity

Hi fellow movie buffs. Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and I wanted to discuss two movies that were on the Academy’s radar but did not lead the conversation. Spencer and House of Gucci were both highly publicized and marketed, but only one received a substantial nomination. I walked out of both movies halfway through, so here is my composite review of both, along with an overview of cultural discourse around them.

House of Gucci chronicles (and exaggerates) the true story of Patrizia and Maurizio Gucci, ending with the former ordering the murder of her ex-husband. Lady Gaga and Adam Driver do a good job of showing the slowly disintegrating couple, but the supporting cast (Jared Leto, Salma Hayek, Al Pacino, and others) pull focus, with a plot centered more on corporate espionage and Italian egos than the true heartbreak at the center. While I enjoy corporate espionage stories, I was bored after two hours in the theater, with another 30min (at least) before the inevitable demise. I left with my date and I was disappointed that such a highly publicized film had let me down.

Spencer is a beautiful horror film. CinemaBlend and others have expanded on this discussion, and the buzz around this movie is well-deserved. The film chronicles the Christmas weekend of 1991 at the royal estate of Sandringham through the fragile eyes of Princess Diana. Kristen Stewart gives an otherworldly delicate nature to the People’s Princess, and “the best actress Oscar is hers to lose”.

While this film is a lovely work of art, it should come with a trigger warning for visceral depictions of an eating disorder and mental illness.* I take some responsibility for knowing enough about Diana’s life to expect some hard scenes, but viewers with triggers around these topics should be wary

*I have never had an eating disorder, but seeing anyone vomit is uniquely unpleasant for me for medical reasons. And most films about sensitive subjects have trigger warnings these days. The Parents Guide of IMDB is a good place to check for this information.

These two movies received fairly equal marketing, but starkly different reviews. Spencer deserves all of the praise it has received, but the mixed reactions to House of Gucci bear further inspection. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes give it only 63%, but audiences give 83%. I apparently agree with the critics who called it dull and slow-paced. In a surprising reversal, Spencer received 83% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, but only 52% from audience viewers. Some viewers have put Lady Gaga in the Best Actress race next to K-Stew, and some have criticized her “campy” role. Tom Ford has a unique perspective on the film, as one of the surviving members of the story. His take is worth considering, although far from representative of mainstream opinion.

The technical filmmaking of both is lovely, the acting in both has been debated, but the slower pace of Spencer has been better received. Kristen Stewart is indeed nominated for Best Actress, but Lady Gaga has been shut out of the race. House of Gucci is nominated only for Best Makeup and Hair. The Oscars will air on March 27th,

I wish I had liked these two movies more, but I’m glad to be able to share my honest thoughts and contribute to the conversation. Let me know if you saw either movie and what you thought of them. See you on the flip side/

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