Over the last few months, legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese has been a point of contention among the most powerful audience in movies right now: fans of comic book movies. But there’s one group that hasn’t turned their back on him: cinephiles. The beginning of December is semi-formally the official beginning of awards season, when awards bodies start throwing around trophies, all of it culminating in the big kahuna that is the Academy Awards in February. And sure enough, one of the first groups to go public with their end-of-the-year picks has chosen as the best of 2019 Scorsese’s latest, The Irishman.
The organization that did the deed is the National Board of Review, which, having been formed all the way back in 1909 — less than a decade-and-a-half after the medium’s birth — is one of the oldest. The NBR bills its members hip as a “select group of film enthusiasts, filmmakers, professionals and academics,” with esteemed alumni including Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, James Agee, and Tennessee Williams. Last year their top prize went to Green Book; previous recent winners include The Post, Manchester by the Sea, and Mad Max: Fury Road, all of which went on to Best Picture nominations, and in Green Book’s case a win.
In other words, this is great news for The Irishman, a gangster epic that brings back such Scorsese regulars as Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel, and which awarded him his first collaboration with no less than Al Pacino. The film, and its 3 ½ hours, opened in select theaters at the beginning of November before dropping into every household with Netflix over Thanksgiving.
The Irishman hasn’t been without contention. Along with the carps of certain Marvel people, there’s been complaints about the length, the de-aging CGI, and the character played by Anna Paquin, who only has a handful of lines. The last one has prompted some of the most forceful pushback, with defenders pointing out that quantity of dialogue does not equal quality, and that her silence is the heart of the picture. (As for the length: Remember, it’s less than a half-hour longer than Avengers: Endgame and features a lot more story.)
But nuts to that — The Irishman just established itself as an awards contender to be reckoned with. Just make sure Ray Romano, as a shyster lawyer who doesn’t care if you did it (but would love to know anyway), also gets some love.
(Via The A.V. Club)