2021 Oscar Reviews: Emma

For the past several years, I’ve attempted to watch as many Oscar-nominated films as possible, and for the past two years I have written reviews of each film and posted them to this blog. Alas, I always run out of time and cannot see everything. This year’ ceremony has been delayed, and I started reviewing before nominations were announced, giving me a decent chance at wide coverage. Today we cover…

Emma

[2 nominates for Best Costumes and Best Makeup and Hairstyling]

This was one of two films that I watched long before Oscar season with zero consideration for it as an Oscar contender. I think I watched it as soon as it came out, whenever the heck that was, so my memory is a bit fuzzy on details. Here’s what I DO remember…

I was VERY VERY VERY excited to see this movie (hence I saw it as soon as it came out). I’m a huge Jane Austen fan who has read almost all of her books (thought, oddly enough, not Emma). I’ve probably seen every Austen film adaptation I’ve ever heard of, including at least 3 or 4 versions of Emma. I know the story well enough that I do have to keep reminding myself that I haven’t actually read the book yet. I also love this cast. I was so excited for the casting! It couldn’t seem more perfect! I mean who doesn’t love Anya Taylor-Joy? Could anyone be more appropriate to play a dorky lovestruck vicar than Josh O’Conner? OMG is that Bill Nighy as the dad? And, my favorite selection, there Johnyy Flynn, the angstry whining protagonist from the best-named British comedy of all time: Scrotal Recall (I don’t care if they renamed it to Lovestruck; it’ll always be Scrotal Recall to me). That is a VERY solid cast, poised to depict a very solid Austen staple. The promotional material only amplified the excitement. LOOK AT THOSE COSTUMES. Look at that staging. It just captured the fiery whimsy of Austen. It hinted at the scathing wit that can at times go missing from more gossamer depictions of nothing but white empire waists and straw bonnets. NO. Austen dudes need to be strutting hardcore in sexy high-waisted breeches, dammit. And those leading ladies need to look like that could murder you 20 times over by raising an eyebrow. All of that awesomeness is what the posters promised us.

Well…

Not so much. After convincing my spouse that we should pay money to rest this at full-price immediately and that TRUST ME this is going t be good… I am sad to report it was just, somehow… really boring. I can’t quite explain why. It should have been great. It didn’t really feel like they had done anything that different from all the other versions, which were all great. But somehow it felt like all style and no substance. Like, the characters looked really good, but… that was about it. it’s like they wasted all their time in costume fittings and then just kinda forgot about the rehearsal part.

Thankfully, the film isn’t nominated in any substantive categories; it’s nominated in purely cosmetic categories, literally. Costumes, hair, and make-up. And the good news is, this film NAILED IT with the costumes. Look at these people! They look awesome! Not awesome enough to save this snoozefest, but.. enough to potentially pick up a trophy or two. So that’s nice.


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