Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, John C. Reilly, Kate Beckinsale, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, Danny Huston, Adam Scott, Ian Holm, Willem Dafoe, Gwen Stefani, Jude Law
Director: Martin Scorsese
Summary: A biopic depicting the early life of legendary director, producer and aviator Howard Hughes
Other Nominations: Director, Actor (DiCaprio), Supporting Actor (Alda), Supporting Actress (Blanchett)*, Original Screenplay, Sound Mixing, Art Direction*, Cinematography*, Costume Design*, Film Editing*
Howard Hughes is a terrific subject for a movie, but I’m not sure this was the best way to tell it. I do appreciate that it wanted to focus on the earlier parts of his life before his mental illness consumed what was once a great pioneer in aviation and filmmaking (although with a notable exception I will get to), but something about it felt lacking. DiCaprio has never really impressed me that much as an actor: solid, but unexceptional and I never got everybody bemoaning him not winning an Oscar for so many years-people like Peter O’Toole, Deborah Kerr, Richard Burton sure but not him. This film did nothing to change my opinion-in the kind of role that feels like it’s born to win an Oscar (larger than life famous person with a tragic mental illness), only rarely did his performance draw me in with the two bathroom scenes being his best work as you can really feel Hughes’ thought processes, OCD and paranoia through the acting and directing. In terms of other actors, Blanchett pretty much is Katharine Hepburn, or at least like the public thinks of her; the difference between the Katharine Hepburn you saw in her movies and the real Katharine Hepburn (at least based off the handful of interviews I’ve seen) are so blurry that it’s hard to fault Blanchett for basically studying her early films for her performance, but to me it still came off as just a touch artificial.
One thing I did enjoy a lot was the color tinting they did in post-production that, when used, did a fantastic job of reproducing the film color style of the given period in the film-in the early to mid 1930s parts, the greens, blues and reds are dead-on and the film looks terrific throughout. But overall, a pretty alright movie with honorable intentions, but at 170 minutes it ultimately it feels a little too long and DiCaprio’s performance never grabbed me. A Howard Hughes biopic sounds like a slam dunk, but I left underwhelmed.