There is no way to watch Mank and not be lulled back in time with deep fondness and a true thrill to the era when Hollywood sizzled and stars dazzled. This year the clear favorite for Oscar’s Best Film is the one centered on Herman Mankiewicz as he works on the screenplay for what would become Orson Welles’ 1941 cinema classic “Citizen Kane.” And who does not adore that old movie?
Hollywood is, by its very nature, attuned to a grand film about itself–and make no mistake this one directed by David Fincher–is perfectly packaged for the voters of the Academy. But far more than a movie that brings to life the tone and temper of a by-gone era it is also a masterfully presented story of the creative juices of a writer pitted against the crafty needs and motives of a movie mogul. The story has tentacles throughout the industry.
What captured me from the outset with Mank was its similarity to Citizen Kane through the use of flashbacks to advance the compelling story. Then place the film into the context–with historical accuracy–of the conservatism of 1930s Hollywood. Add in black-and-white cinematography. Include musical scores that reverberated with cinematic memories of yesterdays. Simply put the film was made with such technological precision one would think it was a film from that era.
So with all that being said, what do we have?
First, we have a movie to love.
And secondly, a movie that will take home the Oscars.
The nominations for the Academy Awards were released Monday morning and I was most pleased to see Mank had 10 of them ranging from Best Film, Director, Cinematography, along with Gary Oldman for actor and Amanda Seyfried for supporting actress. Oldman is a for-sure winner…he was superb as Mankiewicz.
The golden age of Hollywood was often shown on television when I was a teenager. Weekend afternoons and Saturday nights I would be captivated by the action, the lively nature of the music, the daring stuntmen, and the ability of dancers to land perfectly as they commanded attention. So it is not hard to fathom why anyone who has such respect and fondness for such moments would not delight in Mank, a film that revisits Hollywood when it was King.