Oscar Predictions: Beau Is Afraid

A24 just hit the Oscar jackpot with Everything Everywhere All at Once and they have another multi-genre family opus opening in limited release this Friday. Beau Is Afraid is the third feature from writer/director Ari Aster behind acclaimed scary flicks Hereditary and Midsommar. With a $35 million budget, this is the biggest budget yet for the distributor. The three hour episodic mix of mommy issues, satire, and horror is headlined by Joaquin Phoenix with a supporting cast including stage legend Patti LuPone, Nathan Lane, Amy Ryan, Kylie Rogers, Parker Posey, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Hayley Squires, Michael Gandolfini, Zoe Lister-Jones, and Richard Kind.

The review embargo has just lifted and the reactions are all over the place. A 75% Rotten Tomatoes score is the number at this early stage. There are some recurring thoughts among the write-ups. One is that Aster takes gigantic swings. Some pay off. Some don’t. Another is that he’s perhaps given too much freedom this time and that the runtime is exceedingly long. There are comparisons to Charlie Kaufman and numerous mentions of Freud. You also get the impression that plenty of moviegoers will strongly dislike it. The word unhinged pops up in more than one synopsis.

It could be telling that Beau skipped the film festival circuit and opted for this spring release. A24 might suspect they don’t have an awards player (though you could correctly point out that Everything Everywhere came out around the same time). That said, they might opt to throw their serious campaigning behind the upcoming Past Lives (which drew raves at Sundance). While Phoenix is drawing praise for his performance, it could be a tall order for him to nab a Best Actor nod. Perhaps this fall’s Napoleon gives him a better shot. Some critics have singled out LuPone, but apparently her actual screen time is limited.

Beau will undoubtedly have its ardent supporters and fierce detractors. That could be a mix that doesn’t result in significant Oscar buzz. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

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