Endorsements are not reserved for people who know about whatever they’re endorsing. Do you think every celebrity who’s appeared in an ad for something has actually used that thing for more than a few minutes? Of course not. Any of us can judge anything without having gone through it, and we can reach the highest perches of society.
With that in mind, welcome to The Blind RT, in which we endorse things we have never experienced ourselves. What could go wrong?
Let’s start with candidates at the Oscars. These are our sight-unseen endorsements of Best Picture nominees from various years. The only requirements for this Blind RT are that 1) it was a Best Picture nominee and 2) you have not watched it.
Working Girl (1988): a movie that has Joan Cusack in a supporting role, by Ryan Nanni
The stars of Working Girl (Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver, and Harrison Ford) have made many enjoyable motion pictures, which leads me to believe they’re all doing a great job in this movie. Based on the trailer, it appears to have many key elements of a fun ‘80s movie — schemes, nonviolent class warfare, absurd outfits, and New York being crowded and dirty.
But I’m recommending Working Girl for one reason only: Joan Cusack, a complete delight, is in it. Is every movie Joan Cusack is in great? Definitely not; after all, even Denzel Washington has a Virtuosity amongst his credits. Still, even the not-so-great movies Joan Cusack has done sparkle a little more thanks to her charm, energy, and humor. She will take you, the dubious moviegoer, by the hand, and say, “Hey! Movies are pretty neat and a little bit silly, and we’re having fun, aren’t we?” And you will say, “Yes, Joan, I am having fun!”
That’s not an easy job! You can’t mail it in, even if you’re getting less of the spotlight than you might like. (Judy Greer is the modern Joan Cusack; she also excels at this important work.) You are the cinematic salt – bad dishes, sprinkled with you, become tolerable, and good ones, like Working Girl, probably, become transcendent because you’re there.
Pulp Fiction (1994): a movie that inspired many memes I’ve seen, by Jason Kirk
Having enjoyed Jackie Brown, Englooruoise Bestirdz, and enough of the many Kill Bill-type things to say I like at least one Kill Bill, I’m confident I understand this movie’s memes enough to say that I would like the movie itself. Who could forget this classic:
Babe (1995): a movie about a talking pig that made a lot of money, by Brian Floyd
Sandwiched between Bravehart (the eventual winner) and Apollo 13 in the 1995 nominations was Babe, a movie about a talking pig. In truth, it was actually 48 talking pigs in a movie that cost $30 million to make. The good news? The pig movie made a ton of money — more than a quarter billion at the box office, including revenue in Australia that paid for the movie by itself (if Australians like something, it must be good; don’t check this).
Mostly I learned (from Wikipedia) that Babe spawned a blood feud between the director and producer about who should get credit, which is a lot for a movie about a talking pig.
According to actor James Cromwell, there was tension on the set between producer George Miller and director Chris Noonan. Noonan later complained, “I don’t want to make a lifelong enemy of George Miller but I thought that he tried to take credit for Babe, tried to exclude me from any credit, and it made me very insecure... It was like your guru has told you that you are no good and that is really disconcerting.”
Miller shot back, “Chris said something that is defamatory: that I took his name off the credits on internet sites, which is just absolutely untrue. You know, I’m sorry but I really have a lot more to do with my life than worry about that... when it comes to Babe, the vision was handed to Chris on a plate.”
Inception (2010): a movie that makes you reconsider mortality and your place in the world, by Alex Kirshner
The thing I love about this movie is the way it(s trailer) really messes with your mind. One second, Leo DiCaprio’s on the street! Another second, he’s in your head! Is he a thief? Is he a “security professional?” It’s not clear (from the trailer), which means if you watch this movie, you’re going to spend two hours caught in a push-and-pull between rooting for and against him. Is he a good man working outside the system or a demagogic egomaniac?
The quick turns and dramatic plot twists throughout this movie(‘s trailer) make me wonder whether I’m a pawn in some sly con man’s mind games or if I have agency. It’s the perfect concept for this world we’re currently living in, and I love that.
The sophisticated thinking of Christopher Nolan enraptures me. Leo’s guy in Inception is the most complex bit of character development Nolan’s ever done, other than Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. This movie(‘s trailer) pulls in the same dystopian feeling that movie provided, and it(s trailer) mixes in the brilliant special effects of Interstellar and the creeping feeling of doom brought on throughout Dunkirk. It’s a masterful work.
Lincoln (2012): a movie I assure you Daniel Day-Lewis is fantastic in, by Richard Johnson
Day-Lewis is one of the most accomplished actors of both stage and screen. He is fantastic in Gangs of New York and There Will Be Blood. He is also, famously, a method actor. And when I say “method actor,” I mean method:
For “The Last of the Mohicans” he taught himself to build a canoe, shoot a flintlock and trap and skin animals. For the opening scene of “My Left Foot,” about Christy Brown, an artist with cerebral palsy, he taught himself to put a record on a turntable with his toes; he also insisted on remaining in a wheelchair between takes and being fed by the crew.
He is so method that his British co-stars on the set of Lincoln were told not to speak with their British accents on set so they wouldn’t throw the British Day-Lewis off his game, per the New York Times.
There’s a chicken/egg thing here with him. On one hand, Day-Lewis is really good in the stuff I’ve seen him in. On the other, he’s the actor you’re supposed to say is really good, which is what I’m doing here. He’s really good in this movie. I’m sure of it.
On Golden Pond (1981): a movie I cannot personally assure you exists, by Holly Anderson
I am peripherally aware of On Golden Pond in the most literal sense of the word: I have seen the first and last five minutes of the film easily dozens of times. I had the opening and closing scenes memorized before I knew what all the words in them meant. In fact, none of the movie ever meant anything to me.
This was all possible due to the physical circumstances in which I first encountered and re-encountered On Golden Pond, smashed into the middle of a VHS cassette in between recordings of The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars*.
You can see what happened from here.
Somehow, Empire was first on the tape, which meant in order to watch the trilogy in its proper sequence, you had to fast forward to the end of OGP (real Pondheads know), watch the first Star War, then rewind the entire tape to the beginning to get to Episode V, after which the tape would inevitably be shoved back in the box with On Golden Pond cued up, waiting for the cycle to begin anew after Return of the Jedi had been consumed on its adjacent tape (this one also contained Moonstruck, cementing for me forever the notion that Cher and Nicolas Cage exist in the Lucasfilm universe).
Anyway, the last scene of OGP is Tennessee as shit. A man in the throes of a maybe-fatal heart attack wants nothing more than to get outside so he can say his final goodbyes to a lake. As an adult, I am able to admire Katharine Hepburn’s way with pants and Jane Fonda’s way with everything. As a child, I only knew that everything was going to be just fine for my entire life as long as I had a body of water in which to invest all emotional capital that less stalwart humans might say should be expended on my loved ones. You formed me, Norman Thayer, though you did not know me. I really should watch this one of these days.
*Yes, Episode IV has a name. That’s not what my mother scrawled in pencil on the cassette box. Under no circumstances may you @ me. Go outside. You might find a nice lake.
Please tell us your Best Picture (or just general movie) Blind RT, in the comments or wherever.