Foxcatcher was a bit of a puzzle to me when the Oscar nominations were announced. Nominations for best director, screenplay (adapted), actor, and supporting actor, as well as makeup and hair, but none for Best Picture. If the script, direction, and acting were all top notch, how could this not get a nod for the overall film? The answer, as it turns out, is that Foxcatcher is a bit of a mess as a movie.
The problem is that the film doesn't really know what it wants to be. Instead, the film meanders from one throughline to another, never establishing a clear path that fully embodies a particular theme. And that muddies things considerably.
Based almost solely on the autobiography of wrestler Mark Schultz, Foxcatcher is mostly the story of a moody, slightly imbalanced Olympic wrestler who grew up in a broken home and was overshadowed throughout his career by his older brother Dave, who was also a championship wrestler as well as a highly effective wrestling coach. Unfortunately, there's not much payoff to Mark's story, so we're mostly treated to extended scenes of Mark staring moodily at things in his surroundings or walking around with his head down. Channing Tatum is not a good enough actor to make this interesting on the screen, so much of Mark's extensive solo screen time comes off as filler.
|He does get my respect for maintaining the same exact dead-faced expression for the entirety of the film.|
|John E. du Pont, world's richest towel boy.|
|This didn't happen nearly enough in the film.|
Carell's situation is much more interesting. Carell's performance is outstanding, but he is up against some very strong competition. I have to wonder if he wouldn't have been a lock for an Oscar if the producers had taken the defensible stance that his was a supporting role, letting him battle it out with J.K. Simmons and company instead.
Overall, I would recommend watching Foxcatcher for Carell's performance. Just be prepared to mourn the movie it could have been.
|Carell's performance and nose, actually.|