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C’mon C’Mon, the latest film from writer-director Mike Mills premiered at the Telluride film festival and was enjoyed by virtually all who saw it. Like his prior two films — 2011’s Beginners, which was inspired by his father, and 2016’s 20th Century Women, which was inspired by his mother — it is semi-autobiographical (inspired by his inquisitive young child), small-scale (it cost just $8.3 million) and doesn’t aim to set the world on fire with any grand message. So it remains to be seen if, like each of his earlier films, it can ride its charm to even a single Oscar nom.
Mills’ latest tells the story of a precocious young boy (11-year-old newcomer Woody Norman) who is left in the care of his uncle (Joaquin Phoenix, in his first post-Oscar role) — a New York public radio host who interviews young children about the future, not unlike the late Studs Terkel — when his doting mother (Gaby Hoffmann) has to leave town to care for his bipolar father (Scoot McNairy).
In the black-and-white film, Phoenix and Norman are great — and, thanks in no small part to Mills’ script, often very funny — together, with Phoenix showing a softer side than usual and Norman impressively going toe-to-toe with him in terms of naturalism. (They remind me a lot of Ryan O’Neal and Tatum O’Neal in another black-and-white film, Paper Moon, for which the latter became the youngest-ever best supporting actress Oscar winner.)
We know the Academy admires Phoenix, who will presumably be considered as a lead, and that the organization’s actors branch not infrequently nominates child actors in the supporting category, for which Norman would likely be campaigned. But, for a film of this size, those noms strike me as longer shots than recognition for Mills’ original script and Robbie Ryan‘s cinematography, at least outside of the Gotham and Spirit awards.
C’mon C’mon will next screen at the New York Film Festival later this month. A24 has not yet announced its theatrical distribution plans for the film.
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