By Josh Tarpley
It is rare these days that a major studio will put funding behind a movie as audacious, as outside the box, as offputting, as divisive as Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!” After a marketing campaign that ratcheted up the horror aspect in the past months, audiences will finally be seeing the “Black Swan” director’s newest film. It is safe to say that the film will be polarizing at best and hated at worst. Though we in the prediction business kept our eyes on “Mother!” for as long as we could, the awards watching community has moved on from Aronofsky’s latest, deeming it too divisive for the Academy.
Here’s hoping we are wrong. Dear Academy members, give “Mother!” a chance.
You can read Josh Williams’ 9/10 review of the film right here. I’m glad to be in the company of another “Mother!” fan here at the site, but it is not Next Best Picture contributors who name the nominees for the Oscars. Academy member will not be voting for several months, but the narrative surrounding “Mother!” starts this weekend.
The film currently holds a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes, but the more important number is the average score of 6.8/10. Regarding Rotten Tomatoes audience score, “Mother!” has an alarming 53% approval rating, and pundits are already fearing for the worst regarding a low Cinemascore. The critical consensus and online discussion surrounding “Mother!” is sure to be one of the more divisive we’ve seen.
Just like on Twitter, there will be Academy voters who are indifferent to the movie, who hate the film, and those that will fall head over heels for the project. Though that is great for film discussion as a whole and highlights the subjectivity of cinema, these large differences in opinion do not bode well for “Mother!” and the Academy Awards. “Consensus” is the name of the game these days. With the expanded voting system and the preferential ballot, yes it is possible for a film with hardcore fans to vote it in, but more likely than not movies with consensus win the day.
If we look at “La La Land,” “Hidden Figures,” “Bridge of Spies,” “Spotlight” or “The Grand Budapest Hotel” we see movies that never had a shot at winning Best Picture, but were all but guaranteed a nomination due to their positive consensus amongst voters. On the other hand we see examples like “Carol,” “Silence,” or “The Hateful Eight,” films that received nominations in other categories, but ended up not garnering the consensus needed for a Best Picture play.
As it stands right now, “Mother!’s” Oscar nominations are expected to fall on Jennifer Lawrence’s (excellent) performance, the sound categories and maybe visual effects. All and all, that would be a decent showing for the movie, because it is just as likely that the film is too off putting for voters at large and the film is not heard from come nomination morning.
So I call on Twitter users, Oscar pundits, Academy voters and anyone who loves discussing movies, give “Mother!” its day in court. This is the type of movie that may not be financed for another 10 years. Darren Aronofsky essentially saw “The Neon Demon” and “Swiss Army Man” and told audiences, “hold my beer.” The divided opinions are real and we should embrace that divide, let’s discuss this strange film and celebrate it was even released.
I know I’ll be part of the online discussion praising this movie, and I hope there are enough passionate Academy voters to see it make a showing in the end.
What do you think? Did you see “Mother!”? Was it a disgusting experience you wish you could forget, or was it the visceral experience that you love even though you are questioning what you saw? How do you think it will shake out come time for Oscar voting? Let us know in the comments below!
You can follow Josh and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @JoshTarpley7