Monday, March 5, 2018

Oscar Post-View: Call Me By Your Name

At Gay Book Club this evening, we’ll be discussing the celebrated gay novel Call Me By Your Name. No spoilers – I’ll save my book report for next week. Ok, maybe a teaser – loved the book.

Nevertheless, in light of the predictable buzz following last night’s Oscar telecast, I wanted to make three points about the celebrated gay movie Call Me By Your Name:

First, 89-year-old James Ivory richly deserved his first Oscar, for adapted screenplay. Ivory’s direction of Room With A View thirty years ago was amazing. His adaption of Call Me By Your Name does an even better job of capturing a beautiful book’s heart of hearts, and then making it succeed as a movie as well. I fully understand why the novel’s author, upon first reading Ivory’s screenplay, confessed "as the writer I found myself saying, 'Wow, they've done better than the book.'"

Second, I have only one duly informed opinion about the various Oscar races. As a single father on a limited budget, I seldom see Oscar contenders in the theatre, because I seldom see movies in the theatre. Unless they involve either explosions or teenaged romance, or both. Fortunately, this year I did manage to see Call Me By Your Name in a theatre. On a date, even. loved the movie of Call Me By Your Name, particularly Timothee Chalomet’s singular performance as seventeen-year-old Elio. 

When I read in Entertainment Weekly the only real Oscar duel this year was for Best Actor, I made a point of streaming Darkest Hour at home alone the night before the Academy Awards. I’ve always loved Winston Churchill. I’ve read many of Churchill’s writings, as well as numerous biographies of the Great Man. I venerate Churchill with a zeal approaching my bardoltrous worship for Shakespeare and Jane Duncan

I agree Gary Oldham gave an extraordinary performance as Churchill (in an elegantly filmed, post-Buz-Luhrmann-throbbing, clumsily hagiographic, by-the-numbers Oscar-bait biopic). Nevertheless, during every minute of Darkest Hour, I felt like I was watching a particularly brilliant CGI creation, like Gollum.

In contrast, Timothee Chalomet took every fiery adolescent emotion, originally conveyed by the narrator in a lyrical first-person novel, and without the crutch of a single word of stilted voiceover or crawling explanatory text, revealed each burning feeling in turn on his endlessly expressive face.

Third, to my infatuated chorus mates, I stand by my original opinion: in contrast with Chalomet and Oldham, Armie Hammer’s so-called “acting” consists of hunkily shifting among exactly three facial expressions.

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