January 25, 2018
That distinction would belong to It, the superb adaptation of the Stephen King novel by Argentinean director Andrés Muschietti, who had the following factors working against him:
He wasn’t anyone’s first choice. Not the studio, not the producers, not the fans, not the guys down at the pool hall.
He had an all-juvenile cast. Working with child actors and their parents is one of the most daunting labors of the film director, and only a few times in history has someone done it with 100 percent of the principal roles. The fact that he got seven great performances this way indicates he’s a master of his craft.
The novel is 1,138 pages. Admittedly they’re shooting it in two parts, but that’s still 600 pages of material masterfully condensed into a two-hour, 15-minute package that never drags.
The special effects involving a fantasy-horror creature who is part real, part imagined were done without any Industrial Light & Magic clichés, never mind Tom Savini clichés.
Muschietti ended up making a film about the universal fears of adolescents, including black adolescents (the Mike character), that unflinchingly depicts a wide range of ways children are abused by adults, delving into issues that many filmmakers would be afraid to address while at the same time affirming the power of the human spirit, all without resorting to sentimentality.
He didn’t make any official statements about his film. Maybe that’s why he was passed over in the Oscar nominations. He forgot to talk about “our truth.”
But come to think of it, there was yet a third film in 2017 that has horror elements and defies genre. That would be Guillermo del Toro’s monster movie The Shape of Water. When del Toro won the Best Director award at the Golden Globes, he didn’t speak in metaphorical terms at all.
“Since childhood I’ve been faithful to monsters,” he said. “I have been saved and absolved by them. Because monsters, I believe, are patron saints of our blissful imperfection.”
He made a monster movie and fessed up to it. But then again, what would he know about systemic racism in the Trump era? He’s a Mexican.
Listen to me, people. It’s a horror film. Shut up, you’re ruining it for everybody.
Joe Bob will be presenting his politically incorrect multimedia show “How the Rednecks Saved in Hollywood” Jan. 26, 2018, at the Texas Theatre in Dallas. Tickets available here.