We here at Cosmopolitan are absolutely obsessed with movies, but we get that you’re a busy person and it’s hard to see all the films that are going to be “important” in any given year. In this series, Low-Key Highbrow, we’re giving you the basic gist on every one of those pictures you probably should have seen but never got around to. When your friend inevitably throws that Oscars watch party, we’re here to help you scam your way into sounding like the smartest person in the room.
Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman is, if nothing else, a very long movie. Clocking in at three and a half hours, it follows a man named Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) as he navigates the world of organized crime in post-war America. Basically, Frank’s mob “boss,” Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), sends him to work for Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), and through the years, Frank does some seriously questionable mob shit on behalf of both men. It follows all three of them over decades of their lives, and Scorsese used very expensive de-aging technology so they didn’t have to use younger actors to play the younger versions. If that’s confusing (yes), here’s the trailer.
This movie is basically a typical critic’s wet dream. It’s got director Scorsese (The Departed, Shutter Island, Taxi Driver, Wolf of Wall Street)working with his lifelong collaborator De Niro on a film that took 10 years to green-light and cost $150 million to make. AND it’s about gangs. It is truly, like...peak film bro content. The reason it took 10 years is, according to Scorsese, because no one would give him the full $150 million he felt he needed to make the film. Then Netflix was like, “Yes, hello, we’ll give you all the money!” Because of that, the release strategy for The Irishman was kind of weird. It came out in a limited amount of theaters before hitting the streaming platform, so it’s hard to gauge how it performed.
I watched it over Thanksgiving with my dad. I will go out on a limb here and say I didn’t love it. I did laugh, though, when my dad looked at De Niro on the screen and said, “Wow, Robert De Niro looks really good for 76,” and I had to tell him it was because he had been digitally de-aged. The film does make you reflect on the passage of time and what it’s like to grow older when you look back at your life and have a lot of regret. It’s a good movie, but we had to watch it in three separate sittings because it was so damn long, and I personally felt like there was no emotional way into the film for me. But it’s not not impressive.
That said, it’s in the running for Best Picture, so I’m here to present both sides of the discourse because I am a journalist and that’s what I do.
Why people would be pumped if it won:
- This movie is an absolute flex of cinema. It’s filmmaking for people who love capital-F films. Take the run time as an example. Scorsese is so good at what he does that Netflix let him put a three-and-a-half-hour movie on its platform just because. If voters want to celebrate the artsy qualities of movies, this would be the one to pick.
- The people involved in making this picture are Oscars mainstays. It’s almost like if The Irishman wins, it’ll be a lifetime achievement award for everyone involved, in a way.
- This would be the first time Netflix has won a Best Picture Oscar, which we’re going to discuss in both this section and the next. Until now, streaming services were still kind of thought of as the annoying little brothers to the big studios. This would solidify the presence of those companies not just as content farms but also creators of legit art.
Why people would be pissed if it won:
- All those people who still think of Netflix as the new kid on the block will probably be pissed if it takes home the literal top prize in the industry.
- It’s yet another dude movie! A white-dude movie! A movie about mobsters! We’ve seen this type of film a lot, particularly from this director, so it just feels like the road most traveled, if you will.
- When this came out, people were particularly offended by Anna Paquin’s lack of dialogue. Her character is basically silent for the entire three+ hours. She’s one of the only women in the whole thing, so to have her have no lines feels, frankly, kinda shitty. Scorsese addressed the controversy and said it was very intentional and he wanted her character to be more of an observer, which, sure, but still! Give the girls more lines, Marty!
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