Sunday, March 3, 2024

Can Judd Apatow Finally Become An Oscar Nominee With “The Big Sick?”

By Josh Williams

Judd Apatow is a name that carries quite a bit of weight in the world of cinema. Whether you love him or you hate him, when you hear his name, a reaction is almost instantly sparked. He has remained on top of the romantic comedy genre ever since “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” in 2005. Though it seems clear that Apatow has mastered the romantic comedy, he hasn’t necessarily received a good amount of awards attention. Some of his films get some screenplay attention here and there but that is about as far as it goes. Apatow has never really garnered any large scale awards attention but with “The Big Sick” releasing very soon, that could all change.​

​​Whether you love or hate Apatow, all of his films follow this same basic format. His screenplays follow all the same beats. Starting with an unlikely character in an unlikely situation and then this situation being blown completely out of proportion. The situation always usually lands in the same realm of “a disgruntled man searching for physical intimacy in a woman.” Now Apatow does not always show the total amount of respect towards his female characters but each of his female characters falls into the same cliche. He doesn’t represent them as well as we would like, but he is consistently always following in his own footsteps. 

The same goes for his male characters. The men in his films are always shown in a ridiculous, off the wall kind of manner. Apatow has proven that he is clearly a slave to his own substance and whereas most directors like style over substance, Apatow is a man who prefers substance over style. Though you may not always be able to call this “substance” since most of his films do not really require a lot of deeper thinking. Everything you see in an Apatow film is meant to be received at the most basic level. It requires little to no analysis and his films literally go in one ear and out the other. 

So since he has always kind of followed the same formula why has he finally changed his mind with “The Big Sick?” With “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up,” “Superbad,” “Funny People,” “This is 40,” “Bridesmaids” and “Trainwreck,” he has clearly revolutionized how the world views romantic comedies. In fact, Apatow is probably to the point where he could be called the granddaddy of the romantic comedies. But why a sudden change in the formula? Why change his approach especially if his preconceived formula was already working? Nearly every time an Apatow film hits the theaters it does insanely well at the box office. So why take the risk this late in his career? Maybe it’s because he knows he basically has free range to do whatever the hell he wants? We could guess all day long but one thing is for certain, Apatow is now moving from your standard romantic comedy sludge to a possible Best Picture contender. 

The Big Sick” actually revolves around a serious social topic, versus just something that is of fake importance to the characters. This film proves that it has quite the social relevance to it. Revolving around a couple and their cultural differences, “The Big Sick” proves that it is something meant to be taken incredibly seriously. Instead of just a silly one-off rom-com, “The Big Sick” proves that Apatow is setting his sights on something greater. Instead of just producing the films that he is so used to making, he is taking his chance on a film that holds a good level of importance.

So if “The Big Sick” keeps its hype train out of Sundance, which it seems like it has, then it has a good shot at a Best Picture nomination. If the critics are raving about the film and it performs well at the box office then it definitely deserves to be in the discussion for Best Picture along with some colossal films releasing this year such as “Dunkirk” and “Detroit.” It’s incredible to think that Apatow does not have a single Oscar nomination to his name. One might say that instead of a screenplay (Which he didn’t write) or directing (He did not direct “The Big Sick” either) nomination, a producing nomination for “The Big Sick” as his first, feels more like a culmination of this man’s career for all of his contributions towards cinema over the last 15 years. Can it happen? With a narrative such as this and with “The Big Sick” getting increasingly great reviews, all it needs is a little bit of solid box office results and anything can happen.

The Big Sick” will be released on June 23rd with a wider release scheduled for July 14th and stars Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter and Ray Romano. It is directed by Michael Showalter, written by star Kumnail Nanjiani and his real life wife Emily V. Gordon and of course, is produced by Judd Apatow. Our review can be read here.

You can follow Josh and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @josh_williams09

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