My Favorite Moments in the Best Picture Nominees: Vice

Every year, the day before the Oscars, I present my favorite moments from the Best Picture nominees. I do this because things get so subjective and because lines get drawn during the Oscar race. People pick favorites, people start to have negative feelings toward certain films because they’d prefer something else have won or have been nominated. I do this to clear the air of all that. I try to remind us of what this is all about — a celebration of film and of the great films that have come out this year.

I take this day to look at all the nominees as great pieces of cinema. Forget what will win or won’t win — let’s celebrate the films themselves. The point is, when you take away the competition, the awards, the completely arbitrary nature of how no one can truly pick which film is better than another, what we’re left with are great movies. That’s what today is about.

Our final nominee is Vice. What if on a unilateral basis, we all put miniature wigs on our penises, and we walked out to the White House lawn, and we jerked each other off. So, like a puppet show, but much more enjoyable?

5. That narrator conceit

I knew he was gonna do something with this when they introduced it, but I kept being unable to figure out just what as the movie when along. When they finally revealed the connection I realized just how brilliant it was. Adam McKay has developed this unique style of filmmaking with this and The Big Short that gives you a history lesson and entertains you. And he completely throws the narrative rulebook out the window has he does it. And it really allows him total freedom in giving you something that hits all these different levels a movie like this wouldn’t normally hit. And really, it allows for something like this to happen. How fucking brilliant is this conceit? If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it for you. But goddamn, is that good writing.

4. The false end credits

Oh my god though. You get that moment of, “What what?” and then “Oh god, really?” and then, “Oh that’s fucking hilarious and perfect.” This is what Adam McKay can do that no one else has caught up to yet. This is the moment in the film most people will remember and rightly so. It’s amazing. He had the smarts and the balls to do it, and it works.

3. The heart attack scenes

Only in this movie could a heart attack be a running gag. There are three major heart attacks. And they’re all perfect the way Bale plays them. The first is after the campaign speech and he’s just calmly like, “I do believe I uhh, have to go to the hospital.” Then there’s the one in Congress, where he falls down and the aide freaks out like, “Can you breathe?” And he’s like, “I’m having a heart attack, you fucking idiot.” Which feels like the most Dick Cheney thing ever. But it’s this third one that really made me laugh hard. Where they’ve just won the election and he’s standing there like, “Sorry gang. I uhh — yep, I think I uhh, perhaps I should go to the hospital.” That’s so funny. And by now, it’s a motif, so it’s even funnier because it’s been set up multiple times. I love these scenes so much.

2. Bale’s transformation

I think Adam McKay said it best. “Christian didn’t become Dick Cheney, he summoned him.” Because holy shit. Look at that photo. That could be Dick Cheney. It’s fucking terrifying. It just is, and I don’t even need to say anything else about the brilliance of the performance, because that picture says it all. Tell me that’s not Dick Cheney right there.

1. History

I think, for all the jokes in this movie and for all the fun it has… McKay is also telling you a very serious story with very, very, very serious repercussions for our history as a country. And I think we should all realize just what a job he’s doing. I know you can say how slanted this movie is and how it has a very liberal viewpoint, but also… this shit happened. This is what Dick Cheney did and this is the legacy he’s left the country. And I think, however you feel about the movie and its politics (and for that matter, Cheney and his politics), realize — this is what Hollywood has strived for since it started. They want to entertain, but people always have found a way to educate the audience while entertaining them. The average person knows so much more about some of the government stuff than they did before this movie. Just like The Big Short. Did you know about the housing market before that movie? Did you know what synthetic CDOs were? Really? That, to me, is the most impressive part about this. It’s leaving you with this lasting information while also entertaining the shit out of you. That’s cinema, folks.

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