Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)
Updated: Feb 21, 2019
With great wit and an ingenious form of storytelling, Adam McKay once again blurs the limits between comedy and drama.
I was very excited to see Vice from the moment it was announced, and my reasons were certainly not unfounded. For starters, Adam McKay had already proven to be a promising director with his previous film, The Big Short (2015), which was an amazingly written and directed piece that earned McKay his first Oscar nomination as a director and his first win as a writer. I still believe it was one of the strongest contenders during the awards season of 2016, standing out among a group of rather underwhelming nominees. This time around, McKay does not disappoint either. With a form of storytelling that creates an imprint of his witty, personal style, mixing comedy with a faux sense of documentary, Vice manages to tell a poignant story, all the while entertaining the audiences and keeping them on the edge of their seats on what could otherwise be a very boring biopic of a not so interesting political figure. So, as far as directing and screenplay goes, this movie certainly deserves to be praised. This is only further emphasized with the film editing, which I believe is one of the strong points of the type of films McKay creates, seeing as the edition must necessarily work together with the screenplay in order to tell the story in a successful, captivating way. The cinematography is also quite good, but nothing outstanding or memorable, specially if you compare it with the films that are in the run for this category this year (i.e. The Favourite or Cold War).
The other main reason why I wanted to watch this film so badly was the cast. Christian Bale and Amy Adams -who has yet to receive a long overdue Oscar- are two of the greatest actors this generation has had to offer, both of them proving time and time again their versatility and passion in the roles they have taken upon. For this reason, it's hard for me to think of anything they'd do in which they wouldn't stand out, and in Vice they certainly do it again. However -and this is a lot coming from a huge fan of both of their works-, I do not think the performances they deliver in this film rank among their best ones, though it does not imply they aren't some of the strongest performances of the year. Actually, even if not at his absolute best, Christian Bale is still a lot better than most of the other nominees in the Best Actor category -including Rami Malek, who seems to be the favorite in the race and who, in fact, does an amazing job in Bohemian Rhapsody-. All in all, Vice has a great cast, following in the footsteps of The Big Short, but I think we have all seen better performances from all of the actors in it. This includes not only Bale and Adams, but also Sam Rockwell -who just won the Oscar last year for an astonishing performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri- and Steve Carell -who just this year did a much greater job in Beautiful Boy-.
I guess it's safe to say Vice lived up to my expectations. I just would have wanted it to surpass them. It is, without a doubt, a masterfully orchestrated film, with which McKay has strengthened his status within the Academy, but I do not think it's better than its predecessor. And, even though the eight nominations it earned are all very well-deserving, I don't see it taking many awards home on Oscar night.