If you had asked me to guess the Rotten Tomatoes score for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths before its Venice debut today, I probably would’ve needed 55 guesses before I said 45%. Yet that’s where the acclaimed filmmaker’s seventh feature currently stands.
Simply put, that is shocking. Beginning with his debut Amores perros and its nomination for best foreign language pic in 2000, every Inarritu effort has attracted the attention of the Academy. His 2003 English debut 21 Grams landed acting nods for Naomi Watts and Benicio del Toro. 2006’s Babel received seven nominations including Picture and Director. 2010’s Biutiful got mentions in the foreign race and for Javier Bardem in Best Actor. 2014’s Birdman was the biggest breakthrough with nine nods and wins for Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay among others. One year later, Inarritu would win Best Director again for The Revenant, which also finally brought Leonardo DiCaprio to the podium in its total of 12 nominations.
So… to put it mildly, anything Inarritu makes is subject to massive awards speculation. Bardo is a return to his native Mexico for a three hour Fellini inspired dramedy. A November 18th theatrical run is planned before a Netflix streaming start on December 16th. It’s said to be based on the auteur’s real life experiences and initial reaction (as evidenced by the early RT rating) is troubling. Indulgent is a common word thus far.
The festival season beginning in Venice and with Telluride and Toronto on deck is just two days old. Bardo buzz is guaranteed to be one of the biggest surprises. In my predictions last week, I had the movie, Inarritu’s direction, and Daniel Gimenez Cacho in Best Actor all ranked 4th. Griselda Sicillani was fifth in Supporting Actress and there’s where I had this for Original Screenplay. It is very possible that it could fall out of contention altogether in each race mentioned when I publish my next update on Labor Day. I am confident I won’t be predicting nominations for any of the above. The largest benefactor to a Bardo collapse could be Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave. The heralded Japanese mystery could find itself as the international frontrunner now and more of an option in the BP derby.
A slight word of caution: this is just one festival. Bardo screens in Telluride this weekend and maybe the negative chatter will turn to the positive and it won’t be the non-factor that I suspect it’s become. Even the disappointed critics are singling out Darius Khondji’s cinematography so it could continue Inarritu’s streak of every picture getting some Oscar love. Let there be no doubt, however, as that streak is in serious danger. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…