Oscar Spotlight: Detroit
Annapurna Pictures – 8/4
Dir: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Jason Mitchell, Kaitlyn Dever, John Krasinski, Will Poulter, Jack Reynor, Laz Alonso
What It’s About: The film details the shootout at the Algiers Motel that led to the Detroit riots in 1967, the largest urban uprising of the decade at that point. The trailer seems to focus heavily on the hotel incident and less the days of riots that happened after. But, a cursory look at the film’s IMDb page for the film includes roles for extras as ‘Juror’ and ‘Courtroom Spectator’ so the film could cover a bit more than is in this first trailer.
Pros: Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal are both previous Oscar winners for The Hurt Locker and this follow-up to the Oscar-winning Zero Dark Thirty has been highly anticipated. Annapurna Pictures has been behind some other Oscar-nominated successes (The Master, American Hustle, Joy, Foxcatcher, last year’s 20th Century Women) and this is their first self-distributed film.
Cons: The backlash began immediately for the film the moment the trailer dropped. Accusations of no visible black women in a story and city about a race-based incident and its ensuing riot caused a stir. Even the use of the title ‘Detroit’ caused anger as it was too general and not specific enough of the incident. But, it’s just a trailer. No one has seen the film yet.
The August 4th release date means it won’t hit the festivals that matter, like Telluride or Toronto. The last Best Picture winner without a festival run was 2006’s The Departed.
The Bottom Line: The film, Bigelow in Director and Boal’s screenplay have all been in the #1 spot for the Gold Rush Gang Oscar predictions since the 2018 Oscar predictions started right after the last Oscars. Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker, The Avengers) and John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) are both featured in our Supporting Actor predictions, at #6 and #12, respectively. It’s one of the strongest ‘on paper’ choices this year.
After a banner year for films about the black American experience at the Oscars from black writers and directors and the success of Get Out in February, the film could end up being a box office success and the ‘late summer’ entry at next year’s Academy Awards. But will a story about the black experience directed and written by white people pass muster or court controversy?
Here is the first trailer for Detroit.