With 36 days left until the GOP's Iowa Caucus and 57 days remaining until the 2011 Oscar nominations are announced, the candidates and Best Picture hopefuls have begun to run together in our thoughts. At times, this can be can be frustrating, like when we ask somebody whether they think Jon Huntsman has a shot at best original screenplay, but it's also a nice way to present how we see the candidates and films as they gear up for the home stretch.
Now, to the contenders!
Like Mitt Romney, The Descendants is starting to take on an air of inevitability, which is fair. The reviews have been strong and writer-director Alexander Payne and star George Clooney have seven Academy Award nominations between them, so, like Romney, they're battle-tested for the rigors of a long campaign. And The Descendants' trailer, which veers back-and-forth between comedy and drama at an alarming rate, makes you wonder if the movie, like the candidate, might prove too mealy-mouthed for some voters.
Like Terrence Malick's Palme d'Or winner, Gingrich has lots of ideas about things, some of which probably feature Texas, dinosaurs, and what it was like to be Brad Pitt's least-favorite son. So he's got the whole vision thing, and the endorsement of the New Hampshire Union Leader, which is its own kind of Palme d'Or (made early; of questionable influence with voters). As alternatives to the heartstring-plucking of The Descendants and center-right Republicanism of Romney go, this is probably your best bet.
Rick Perry was supposed to fill that above mentioned void when he hopped into the race over the summer. Nobody thought he was going to be Tocqueville, but he was a veteran governor from a huge state. That alone made him seem like a viable alternative to Romney after John Thune passed on a run and Tim Pawlenty quickly dropped out. Like Perry, J. Edgar seemed like a reasonable idea in the abstract, even if Clint Eastwood's movies crossed over from understated to lethargic around the 90 minute mark of Million Dollar Baby and Leonardo DiCaprio always seems out of place in period pieces. Things were looking great, right up until people saw the movie and Perry began debating.
People swear by Jon Huntsman and George Smiley, which is not unreasonable, but there are large groups of people -- some of whom are registered Republicans -- who have never heard of the former Utah governor or of John le Carré's master spy. Much like the long-ago Huntsman boom, it feels like it's been months since people were telling us that Gary Oldman was going to knock 'em dead as Smiley. We haven't seen the movie yet, so we can't say how strong the performance is, but for a fun time, try taking this image outside and asking 20 people if the picture is of Jon Huntsman or Gary Oldman. (If someone doesn't recognize one of the names, just explain that Jon Huntsman is the Gary Oldman of the GOP presidential race, and vice versa.)
Like Moneyball, Ron Paul's entire campaign is predicated on accepting harsh financial realities and changing the way we see money. Also like Moneyball, he's something people were much more excited about four years ago.
What started as (maybe) an elaborate stunt candidacy to move copies of his book somehow briefly became a very serious Herman Cain bid for the White House. But now it looks increasingly like Cain's not going to be able to hold up to the scrutiny that comes with a run for national office, while it's a sure bet that fans of Stieg Larsson's Millenium books are going to be looking for faults in David Fincher's English-language adaptation. Also, Daniel Craig certainly didn't help manage expectations when he told Esquire the movie was better than The Godfather.
First of all, Bachmann's very quick to talk about war. So she'd probably like owning a war horse. Like Steven Spielberg's movie, the Bachmann campaign is predicated on the notion that things were better -- or at least more honorable -- in the old days, when horses won wars and the sky was always orange and pink. Spielberg made this movie as a tribute to John Ford, and maybe to win an Oscar, while Bachmann hopes her little project will lead to her being the Republican nominee for president. Stranger things have happened in best picture races, but GOP voters usually give their nomination to the next candidate in line rather than the upstart. Sometimes winning World War I, or an Iowa Straw Poll, just isn't enough.