‘Licorice Pizza’ first reactions: Paul Thomas Anderson could win his first Oscar

Paul Thomas Anderson has never won an Academy Award despite eight nominations, including four for screenwriting. But that winless streak could end next year if the early response to his new film, “Licorice Pizza,” is any indication.

“At this stage, eight-time-nominee Anderson is clearly overdue for his first Oscar. And I believe, as he enters another season with a late-breaking contender, that ‘Licorice Pizza’ could be the movie that gets him a win,” Vanity Fair awards expert David Canfield wrote on Thursday night in a piece published as the social media and analysis embargo on “Licorice Pizza” came to an end.

Anderson could be “in serious play for screenplay,” Variety awards expert Clayton Davis wrote on Twitter.

Not that anyone should be too surprised with that take or the overall response. Anderson’s script for “Licorice Pizza” rated high in the Gold Derby odds before its screenings even began, and it remains a close second among experts in the Best Original Screenplay category behind only “Belfast.” (Kenneth Branagh’s film has the benefit of being an early Best Picture front-runner; “Licorice Pizza” is currently seventh in the Best Picture race among experts.)

Set in the San Fernando Valley in the late 1970s, “Licorice Pizza” is a coming-of-age romance that loosely combines elements from the life of producer Gary Goetzman with Anderson’s own experiences growing up in the area. Anderson has cited “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “American Graffiti” as inspirations, and that’s evident from the finished film which is charming, naturalistic, and episodic in nature and is built on the back of two breakout performances from Cooper Hoffman (son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) and musician-turned-actress Alana Haim. Headline names such as Sean Penn, Bradley Cooper and Benny Safdie also co-star, but in small supporting performances that border on extended cameos. (Cooper is especially explosive as producer Jon Peters, bullying and taunting Hoffman’s Gary in the film’s funniest section.)

“Licorice Pizza” is out in limited release on November 26 before a wider rollout on Christmas Day. Check out numerous first reactions about the film below.



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