After the Globe nominations, don’t dare underestimate the power of ‘Vice’ as an awards season weapon of mass acclaim

“A Star Is Born” is an evergreen showbiz saga that has been chugging along since early October, dominating both the box office with $360 million worldwide and the music charts. “The Favourite” is a recently released art-house smash drenched in nasty royal affairs that features three naughty female performances by Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. It has managed to gross nearly $2 million since Nov. 23. Both films were bestowed with five Golden Globe nominations each on Thursday and deservedly so.

But those cinematic sensations were bested by a movie that isn’t even in theaters yet – “Vice.” The satirical biopic about George W. Bush’s low-key master manipulator of a vice president, Dick Cheney, grabbed six slots on the HFPA ballot to win the most-nominated prize. The Christmas Day release is in the running for best comedy or musical movie, comedy actor (Christian Bale), supporting actress (Amy Adams), supporting actor (Sam Rockwell)  while Adam McKay is up for his direction and screenplay.

SEE Golden Globes 2019: Full list of nominations

In other words, do not underestimate this late-arriving awards magnet that reminds and reveals many of the roots of power-mongering that continues to choke our democratic process to this day.

I have seen “Vice, which immediately went to the top of my best movies of 2018.  I already urged on this site that Bale as Cheney deserves every acting award  he can get just for his deployment  of threatening silence as an acting tool. Did I mention he gained a boatload of weight again and thinned his hair? That he makes the act of gargling in his jammies seem suspenseful?

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I know what you are thinking. Why do I want to immerse myself in a movie about divisive politics when I could just stay home and watch cable news. But McKay, who went from being a Frat Pack go-to director (“Anchorman,” “Step Brothers”) to awards season veteran  with his incisively amusing yet educational deep dive into the housing crisis last decade with 2015’s “The Big Short,” which earned  Oscar nods for Best Picture, directing, supporting actor (Bale) and editing while winning  for his co-written adapted screenplay.

If you liked “The Big Short” and its cheeky narrative tricks, you will relish “Vice” even more. McKay has smoothed out his oh-so-clever techniques so they aren’t quite so jarring and even found a way to insert chunks of Shakespeare into the story.  He has always been great casting ensembles and Amy Adams  as Lynne Cheney, Sam Rockwell as Dubya and Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld are all on the money

I do wonder, now that the elder Bush just died, whether this scathing rebuke of part of the family’s dynasty is coming too soon. I think not. It has been made abundantly clear during all the commentary during the period of mourning that the first President Bush liked a good laugh. That the laughter is sometimes at the expense of his son’s actions or inaction, well, it is better than crying, isn’t it?

Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominations are announced on January 22.

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