Oscar Watch: Dick Johnson Is Dead

After a warm reception earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, Kirsten Johnson’s documentary Dick Johnson Is Dead is having its streaming premiere on Netflix today. The director is the daughter of the title subject – a psychiatrist who receives a dementia diagnosis. She also made the well regarded 2016 doc Cameraperson. The picture is said to deal humorously and unconventionally with its subject matter. It received a Special Jury award at Sundance and stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The issue of dementia has been a theme for 2020 features. The most high profile is Florian Zeller’s The Father, which appears headed for multiple nominations including its leads Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman. Less likely titles to contend for consideration are Supernova with Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci and The Artist’s Wife starring Lena Olin and Bruce Dern.

On the doc side, I had Johnson listed at #4 for the various hopefuls. This race is obviously quite fluid at the moment, but the acclaim already received puts it as a strong contender. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Artist’s Wife

After premiering nearly a year ago at the Hamptons International Film Festival, Tom Dolby’s The Artist’s Wife has hit streaming services over the weekend. The drama finds Lena Olin as the wife of a famed artist (Bruce Dern) who is suffering from dementia. This is a common theme in the 2020 Oscar season. Florian Zeller’s The Father is a major contender in the big races including the work of its headliners Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman. Earlier today, I wrote my post for Supernova which features Colin Firth traveling with his partner Stanley Tucci – who is also suffering from the disease. I was less hopeful for its Academy prospects.

The same holds true here. Reviews are mixed with a current 59% Rotten Tomatoes score. Artist’s has drawn some comparisons to 2018’s The Wife which nearly won Glenn Close her first statue before being upset by the aforementioned Colman in The Favourite.  The bulk of the critical praise here has gone to Olin, a veteran actress with one nod to her credit in Supporting Actress for 1989’s Enemies, A Love Story. Dern was a Best Actor nominee seven years ago for Nebraska. 

Yet Best Actress is looking crowded already with plenty of legit possibilities on deck. The Artist’s Wife, with its so-so response thus far, appears bound to get lost in the shuffle.