Oscars 2022: “Don’t look up”, the Comedy of the End of the World

We start our special of reviews of the films nominated for the 2022 Oscar, with our impressions of “Don’t look up”


Photo: Netflix

LatinAmerican Post | Staff

At the end of 2021, “Don’t look up” premiered on Netflix. This movie was a trend for the end of the year and it is again now that it is one of the nominees in the Best Picture category at the Oscar Awards. Although the relevance of these awards is so questionable, we believe that their delivery does shed light on the cinema we consume and on the criteria that the Academy takes into account when awarding an award.

“Don’t’ look up” is a film directed by Adam McKay (“The Big Short”, “Vice”). In it, two Michigan State University astronomers discover that a comet is headed for Earth and that the human race will be extinct in six months. In alliance with another NASA astronomer, they try to alarm the president of the United States and the media, but they can’t make anyone care. It is a comedy that, as its slogan says, is based on real events that could happen.

An All-Star Cast

On other occasions, McKay has brought multiple stars together into one cast for the production. This is no exception, as Don’t look up stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, and Rob Morgan as the three alarmed astronomers. These three performances seem at times parodic, which could confuse the viewer, since the film is, in a way, on the side of the three protagonists. DiCaprio and Lawrence give their typical (and already tired) performances of desperation. He plays an anxious man who at one point loses his mind in scenes we’ve already seen in “The Wolf of Wall Street” or “Django Unchained”: he screams, he spits, he turns red. She is a doctoral student with a cynical attitude while seeming to care too much (too much?) about the end of the world.

The real stars of the film are the characters of Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, and Cate Blanchet. The three of them are, so to speak, the villains of this movie. They play, respectively, the president of the United States, her son, and a talk show host. All three interpretations are hilarious and truly parodic. Everything these three characters do and say seems absurd but it is also believable. This is the great success of McKay in this production.

Other times, great casts don’t let any character shine, but this is not the case. Those who make this film a comedy are the light characters, stripped of the solemnity of the end of the world.

Also read: Beyond “Don’t Look Up”: 5 Movies About the End of the World

An end of the world comedy

In other productions, McKay has already shown his interest in understanding current American society. This is the case of “The Big Short”, about the 2008 stock market crisis; and “Vice”, about Dick Cheney, Bush’s vice president. In these cases, the obsession with the official truth, with the accurate explanation of real events, has made these films heavy and sometimes difficult to watch. Although both are comedies, they cram the viewer with facts and make-up to make sure everything is well represented.

It’s not until “Don’t look up” that McKay gets really funny and fresh again. By being able to imagine a near future, without worrying about portraying the near past well, the director and writer of this story can make a better picture of today’s society. It puts on stage the absurdities of social networks and the distortion of any truth and takes them to the extreme, which makes us laugh. This film knows how to understand the twisted way in which we perceive the news and the way in which we make any scientific evidence ideological.

Much has already been said that McKay was helped by observing what is happening right now with the Coronavirus pandemic and climate change. He’s done a good job of turning it into a comedy.

Will he win the Oscar?

Rarely has a comedy won the Oscar for best picture. The Academy usually rewards the solemnity or the social claims of minorities. However, this film meets the requirement of political correctness that the Academy usually likes. This, in addition to the environmental campaign, can give you a chance. However, although it is so obvious that it is good, “Don’t look up” is not the best film of the year.

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