“Unlike most disease-of-the-week movies, 50/50 is itself split: Its focus lies half on the young man, blindsided by the prospect of a swift and early death, half on the people who behave like idiots in the face of his illness. ” – David Edelstein, New York Magazine
“Gordon-Levitt’s performance is frequently sarcastic but generally understated, so that when his frustrations and fears finally do boil over in some of the film’s final scenes, the emotional blows land with a force both unexpected and well-earned.” – William Gross, Film.com
Sounds like 50/50 is a comedy attempting to elevate its humanity over generic “traumatic experience” tropes. To his credit, Gordon-Levitt has been quite good at slotting himself into roles in movies that could easily be shallow but surprise with a tremendous sense of heart.
With a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (I know it’s only Tuesday), I have a hunch this one might just sneak in, especially in such a weak year. I haven’t seen this film on too many major Oscar charts but I fully expect that will change over the next few weeks.
General wisdom tells us comedies are shunned by the stuffy Academy voters but even a superficial look at the last few years expose a very different truth. Mature funnies like Sideways, Juno, and Up In The Air, have become staples in Oscars lineup. Sure they won’t win but they at least they get to show up. Gordon-Levitt’s own 500 Days of Summer had serious support, with an albeit less serious subject matter, in 2009. Maybe even more crucial was a small but significant win for a very light comedy, God of Love, in the Live Action Short category last year. Telling considering this is a category usually reserved for darker fair, more so even than Best Picture.
Could 50/50 be a not-so-dark dark horse in the Best Picture race?