‘Blue Bayou’ Oscars Probabilities: Justin Chon, Alicia Vikander


The lovechild of ardour and expertise, Justin Chon’s “Blue Bayou” — a lyrical and emotional portrait of id and household — is a bit that drums up a number of assist inside the movie group, basic audiences, and the Academy Awards in numerous branches. Leaving you in a puddle of tears by the top credit, the Cannes Movie Competition choice could possibly be a slam dunk for distributor Focus Features throughout all eligible classes, together with greatest image.

“Blue Bayou” tells the shifting and well timed story of Antonio LeBlanc (Chon), a Korean adoptee who’s raised in a small city within the Louisiana bayou. There, he’s married to his spouse Kathy (performed by Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander) and is a step-dad to her daughter Jessie (performed by newcomer Sydney Kowalske). Struggling to make a greater life for his household, Antonio should confront his sophisticated previous when he faces attainable deportation from the one nation he’s ever identified.

Well timed is an understatement on how the story matches into our present local weather and tradition in America. Prone to do battle within the authentic screenplay area that would embrace former nominees and winners akin to Aaron Sorkin and Wes Anderson, Chon, who is likely to be greatest identified for enjoying Eric within the “Twilight” franchise, humbly takes on the load of his narrative message. It’s not one thing the author’s department is unfamiliar with. The highlight that the movie serves to a grotesque a part of our American tradition nonetheless prevalent in the present day, with many at-risk with out their information, can be price all of the accolades. This will likely drum up appreciable assist from the actor’s department, which is able to do wonders for its expertise in entrance of the digicam. Is there an ideal narrative that’s constructed? No, however when you’re serving a number of facets of a film, with Chon’s greatest directorial characteristic but, a few of the overdone beats are inclined to both slog or get in the way in which. So let me be clear, Hollywood can be clever to present Chon the keys to his subsequent enterprise and see the place he desires to take us for the trip.

Solely eight filmmakers have been nominated for appearing and directing for a similar movie – Orson Welles for “Citizen Kane” (1941), Sir Laurence Olivier for “Hamlet” (1948), Woody Allen for “Annie Corridor” (1977), Warren Beatty, twice for “Heaven Can Wait” (1978) and “Reds” (1981), Kenneth Branagh for “Henry V” (1989), Kevin Costner for “Dances with Wolves” (1990), Roberto Benigni for “Life is Stunning (1998) and Clint Eastwood, twice for “Unforgiven” (1992) and “Million Greenback Child” (2004). Chon is greater than deserving and worthy of becoming a member of this elite checklist as Antonio is grounded however visibly affected by what’s round him.

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Alicia Vikander (left) stars as “Kathy” and Justin Chon (proper) stars as “Antonio” in BLUE BAYOU, a Focus Options launch. Credit score : Focus Options
Courtesy of Focus Options

That is simply Vikander’s strongest work since her 2015 Oscar-winning flip in Tom Hooper’s “The Danish Lady.” Slipping proper into the movie’s world, she could possibly be one of many extra accessible components for awards teams to acknowledge. Nevertheless, it’ll be attention-grabbing the place she decides to marketing campaign her achievement, as I see it as a transparent and defining main function. On the time of her Oscar win, the lengthy argued debate surrounding class fraud was wanting prefer it was gaining traction amongst awards fanatics. Vikander, together with Rooney Mara (“Carol”), have been being referred to as out for his or her main roles going the “simple route” for supporting nominations. If you evaluate her work in “Blue Bayou” subsequent to her co-star Linh Dan Pham, a outstanding actress who delivers an astounding flip as Parker, a girl who comes into Antonio’s life at an important time, you can’t evaluate the 2 characters by way of display time and influence on the narrative’s story. Each are worthy, however will hopefully marketing campaign appropriately.

Ante Cheng and Matthew Chuang’s blue hues and Emmanuel Lubezki-like digicam work ought to result in consideration for cinematography. The identical goes for the enhancing by Reynolds Barney and music by Roger Suen, who has labored with Chon on his options akin to “Ms. Purple” and “Gook.” The household that sticks collectively makes stunning films collectively, it appears.

There can be pure comparisons to final yr’s “Minari,” which discovered recognition in a number of classes and gained supporting actress for Yuh-Jung Youn. They’re not unwarranted, nevertheless it’s past AAPI aesthetics and themes. I discovered the throughline of many artistic and acclaimed auteurs and artists sprinkled in components, akin to Barry Jenkins and Jim Sheridan. “In America” and “Moonlight” poke by the movie in a really constructive method, and with a September launch coming, I can see folks actually getting behind it; nevertheless, it’s honest to say that the Cannes crowd wasn’t across-the-board excited by the movie’s execution. Not simply because Emory Cohen has a job within the movie, however some components hawk again to “The Place Past the Pines” by Derek Cianfrance, which was well liked by many however discovered no assist on the awards circuit. The important thing can be having a number of branches purchase into what Chon is promoting. Hopefully, a bunch like SAG will see the worth and provides it a leg up with an ensemble point out, which is one among its key strengths.

It’s an extended highway to go, however “Blue Bayou” feels just like the beginning line firing in awards season. So let’s see if it will possibly keep within the race.

“Blue Bayou” is produced by Poppy Hanks, Charles D. King and Kim Roth. The movie opens on Sept. 17 in theaters.

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