Darren Aronofsky‘s “mother!” debuted at the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 5 to a very divided critical response. Horror films such as this don’t usually fare well at the Oscars. However, “mother!” stars one of the academy darlings: Jennifer Lawrence. Remember, she ranks as the second-youngest winner of Best Actress being just 22 when she prevailed for “Silver Linings Playbook” in 2013. And she’s already racked up three other bids. Could this young talent, who turned 27 in August, be on her way to a fifth nomination?
Aronofsky has surrounded his leading lady with other Academy Awards favorites. Lawrence’s co-star is Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men,” 2007) who plays her nameless character’s husband. He invites a pair of strangers into their home (four-time Oscar nominee Ed Harris and three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Pfeiffer), leading to a series of strange events that become ever more horrific.
Aronofsky was nominated for directing “Black Swan” (2010), another psychological thriller which won Natalie Portman an Oscar for her portrayal of a woman descending into madness, much like Lawrence’s character. Prior to that he had helmed “Requiem for a Dream.” which earned a 2000 Best Actress bid for Ellen Burstyn as a woman literally haunted by her drug addiction.
The behind-the-scenes crew on “mother!” includes Aronofsky’s Oscar nominated “Black Swan” cinematographer Matthew Libatique, his Oscar nominated “Black Swan” editor Andrew Weisblum, and Oscar nominated composer Johann Johannsson (“The Theory of Everything,” “Sicario”).
If this Paramount picture, out on Sept. 15, does well at the box office it may be hard for Oscar voters, who now include a much more diverse membership, to resist. “The Exorcist” won two of its 10 Oscar races in 1973 while “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) made history by winning all five of the top Academy Awards include Best Picture.
Below, a sampling of the reviews for Lawrence in “mother!” After reading these excerpts, be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.
Todd McCarthy (THR): “There’s certainly no faulting the actors, who, with the exception of the excellent and always audience-engaging Lawrence, all trigger a significant measure of creepiness. Bardem is dominant and, when necessary, warm and winning enough to just about convince you that Him’s wife would stick around despite all the warning signs. Harris and Pfeiffer up the ante with very keen turns as the couple that show up with no intention of leaving.”
Owen Gleiberman (Variety): “There’s an abstract audacity to ‘mother!’ The film’s horror plays off everything from the grabby hordes of celebrity culture to the fear of Nazis and terrorists to — yes — what it means to be a mother (complete with the world’s most ironic exclamation point). All of that makes the film seem ambitious. But it also makes it a movie that’s about everything and nothing.”