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Could “Vice” be this year’s late breaking party crasher for awards season?

At this point in the year, it can sometimes feel like the Oscar contenders are set in stone, save for an unseen X factor or two. It all can come down to a few last minute films that seek to upend the awards season. Yesterday, I saw such a thing. The movie in question is Adam McKay’s Vice, a biopic of Dick Cheney that long has seemed like a potential Academy Award player. Well, last week it unveiled itself at last, and now having seen it, I can report that voters will definitely go for this one. An actual review will have to wait until the official embargo lifts next months, but prepare for McKay and especially Christian Bale to be a major factor going forward.

In case you somehow don’t know already, the film is, of course, a biopic of Dick Cheney (Bale), in all his shady glory. The official synopsis on IMDb is as follows: “VICE explores how a bureaucratic Washington insider quietly became the most powerful man in the world as Vice-President to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways still felt today.” We look on as Cheney goes from a young screw up to someone making all the right moves. He initially gains power as a political operative, learning under Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell), then a congressman, a CEO, and then as Vice President to George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell). Through it all, he’s supported and driven on by his wife Lynne Cheney (Amy Adams). Plot wise, there still is a lot for you to discover, which I’ll get into when the embargo lifts. McKay writes and directs, with the rest of the cast on hand includes the likes of Bill Camp, LisaGay Hamilton, Justin Kirk, Eddie Marsan, Don McManus, Tyler Perry, Alison Pill, Jesse Plemons, Lily Rabe, Shea Whigham, and many more. Greig Fraser handles the cinematography, while the score comes from Nicholas Britell. Count Brad Pitt and Will Ferrell among the producers here too, alongside Plan B folks like Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner. Hank Corwin again edits for McKay.

I can say a little about the movie, which is pretty great. Bale is remarkable here, literally becoming Cheney. Not only does he look and sound the part, he disappears into the role. It’s just incredible to witness. The antics that McKay pulled on The Big Short are here once again, so if you were into that, this should work for you as well. I’m being vague and surface level on purpose right now, but there is one moment about halfway through that’s the funniest thing I’ve seen all year. The flick alternates between making you laugh and making you angry, but that one choice is comic gold.

Oscar prospects for Vice are really strong, at least at this early juncture. Annapurna has a big player on their hands. Campaigns in Best Picture, Best Director (for McKay), Best Actor (for Bale), Best Supporting Actor (for Carell and Rockwell), Best Supporting Actress (for Adams), Best Original Screenplay (also for McKay), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, and Best Original Score. Right now, it seems like nominations in Actor for Bale and Makeup & Hairstyling are basically locks, with Picture and Original Screenplay for McKay not far off. If the Academy goes for it like I think they will, throw in Supporting Actress for Adams and Film Editing as well. In fact, Bale may very well win too.

Vice will play like gangbusters on the coasts. Whether the middle of the country will go for it at all remains to be seen, but the Academy will take to this one like a fish to water. Oscar voters aren’t the be all, end all, but they’re a target audience here and Vice very much hits the target. In a few weeks I’ll be able to give a full review, but if you were curious if this would work, it really does. Bale especially will blow your mind. Sit tight for more. Until then, trust me, this is going to be a big deal…

Stay tuned for much more on Vice next month!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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