What’s up, Doc?
Double adapted screenplay wins from the BAFTAs and the WGA boosted “Jo Jo Rabbit.” Can Taika Waititi’s WW2 tragicomedy now hop out in front of “1917” and “Parasite?”
Last September, the Searchlight Pictures title crashed awards season at TIFF, taking the prestigious Grolsch People’s Choice Award, a crown denied runners up “Marriage Story” and “Parasite.” It signaled an audience favorite that might follow in the footsteps of last year’s “surprise” winner “Green Book.”
Like “Green Book,” Waititi’s genre-bending movie faced an immediate critical resistance. According to Gold Derby’s poobah Tom O’Neil: “The reason ‘Jojo’ has been underestimated is because it was blown off early by several prestigious film critics.”
He added, “And thus many Oscar-watchers just presumed that everybody else would dutifully follow that groupthink. Justin Chang (LA. Times), Owen Gleiberman (Variety) and Todd McCarthy (Hollywood Reporter) launched nuclear weapons at poor ‘Jojo’ at the Toronto Film Festival even though it got a cheering ovation at its premiere.”
This echoes last year’s Grolsch-winner “Green Book,” which went on to win Best Picture despite criticisms of racial bias. Ditto the critic-savaged “Bohemian Rhapsody” that won four out of five of its Oscar nominations.
But, after early divisions, the movie rallied, now holding an 80 score at Rotten Tomatoes. And, beyond critical acceptance, the film has garnered an ACE Eddie, a DGA Nomination, six Oscar nominations, and a Costume Designers Guild Award.
Divisive? Sure. But Waititi’s past success (“Thor Ragnorak”) and exuberant presence beside Bong Joon Ha on the red carpet may launch a groundswell that pushes this bunny all the way.
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