“We start with this loss that is unimaginable. I’m not sure how anyone ever deals with that. My heart broke for Neil and Janet,” said Ryan Gosling about the Armstrongs, whom he and Claire Foy portray in “First Man.” The biopic about Neil Armstrong‘s mission to the moon begins with the illness and death of his daughter, and Gosling “really fell in love with them” for their perseverance. But at first director Damien Chazelle didn’t want to make “First Man” at all. Watch them discuss the film with Oscar voters during an Academy Conversations event at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater above.
“[The producers] just asked me if I was interested in Neil Armstrong, and I said no,” Chazelle remembers about initially being approached about the film. At the time he “subscribed to the rosy idea of NASA” as a place of smooth and incremental progress leading to the inevitable moon shot, but when he finally read the Armstrong biography by James R. Hansen that the film is based on he realized how much more intense it really was. The moon mission was “more dangerous, more radical, more unlikely, more at times reckless, more at times heroic than I had given it credit for in the past.” So in telling the story Chazelle was interested in “stripping away the mythology and looking at the messier reality underneath.”
“First Man” is the second collaboration between Chazelle and star Gosling. It follows the musical romance “La La Land” (2016), for which Gosling earned his second Oscar nomination for Best Actor and Chazelle became the youngest Oscar winner for Best Director in history at age 32. Will they both win for going to the moon and back?
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.