Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What I Saw: The Ides Of March

What I Saw: The Ides of March

We all know that politicians are dirty, and that the same goes for political journalists. What I’d really like to see is a movie that looks at dirty voters! After all, we’re part of the system too.

The Ides of March doesn’t go so far as to force voters to look at their own choices, but it does give an insightful look into the corruption of one young idealist. I don’t consider this a spoiler, because we all know that he’s going to be corrupted somehow. Indeed, as someone who has supposedly worked on “more campaigns than most forty year olds,” we wonder what took him so long. The fun comes from the guilty pleasure of watching it unfold, and seeing whether he can learn to play the game.

We watch as loyalties shift, often due more to personal relationships than policy considerations. Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour-Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei and George Clooney all depend upon each other, and just as easily throw each other away, to get what they want. Special mention goes to the score of Alexandre Desplat, which perfectly highlights the emotional texture throughout.

The real question for voters (and viewers) isn’t whether we’ve seen this before, but why we keep seeing it. [NOTE: THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS, SO SKIP AHEAD IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE PLOT TWISTS.] At some point, we have to ask ourselves why we allow pledged delegates, whose only conceivable purpose is to assure a cabinet position for their favorite candidate? Why are we more likely to vote for a candidate who hides his dirty laundry, while instantly disqualifying one who acknowledges it? What is it about our sexual politics that makes us fine when Gosling and Wood hook up, but suddenly we become prudes when we discover that a candidate might do the same thing? Maybe, just maybe, this film is about dirty voters after all.

Oscar Chances:

Some prognosticators are dropping this film way down in their predictions based on solid, instead of spectacular, reviews, and losing the box office to Real Steel (as if that is any indication). I’m a bit more cautious. Remember that the academy votes dirty too values charisma and prestige, and that they like certain kinds of films dealing with important issues, including political ones. Plus, the action here is all about the exceptional acting, rather than visual effects, and the actors branch is the largest one in the academy. Most importantly, this is a film that voters are almost guaranteed to watch, which is often half the battle.

Best Picture (currently ranked 6, above the 5% threshold)
Best Director: George Clooney (currently ranked 2. He’s likely to drop some in my next set of predictions, but still has a chance for the reasons cited above.)
Adapted Screenplay: George Clooney and Grant Heslov (currently ranked 5)
Supporting Actor: Philip Seymour-Hoffman (currently ranked 6)
Lead Actor: Ryan Gosling (currently ranked 8)
Film Editing: Stephen Mirrione (currently ranked 9)
Supporting Actress: Evan Rachel Wood (currently ranked 11)
Cinematography: Phedon Papamichael (currently ranked 17)
Original Score: Alexandre Desplat (currently ranked 20, likely to move up in my next predictions)
Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti (currently ranked 25)
Art Direction: Sharon Seymour and Maggie Martin (currently ranked 27)
Supporting Actor: George Clooney (currently ranked 36)
Supporting Actress: Marisa Tomei (currently ranked 45)
Costume Design: Louise Frogley (currently ranked 45)
Sound Mixing (currently unranked)

My Lamb Score: 4 ½ out of 5 Lambs
What is a lamb score? Click HERE to learn more.
Read more of my reviews HERE.


  1. This is entertaining even if suspense barely builds and pay-off revelations come with little surprise. Clooney, as a director, is also able to draw-out amazing performances from this whole ensemble cast. Great review my man.

  2. Thanks Dan O.! This is definitely an actors and director's film!