Martin Scorsese’s latest movie, “The Irishman,” is definitely a good film. Joe Pesci’s and Al Pacino’s performances? Excellent. The visual effects used to mess with Robert De Niro’s age? Revolutionary, at worst. The editing? Eh … actually, that isn’t too great.
In addition to being a competently made — and at times incredibly tense — drama about old people realizing that they’ve gotten old, “The Irishman” is also complete and utter Oscar bait.
What I mean by Oscar bait is not what you’d usually think when you throw that phrase around. Usually when something is shooting for the Academy’s praises, we’re talking about a safe melodrama with A-list stars and a period setting thrown in to get that production design nomination.
While “The Irishman” does fall into some of these tropes, it actually is Oscar bait in a fairly unique way: It exists in the form of media it does specifically in order for it to win Oscars.
Emphasis on the “form” part of the previous statement. This is a very long film that suffers greatly, I think, from really poor pacing. Ergo, “The Irishman” should be a mini-series. Part I is the life and times of Frank Sheeran and his new pal Russell Bufalino (NEPA points). Part II focuses on Sheeran’s interactions with Pacino’s Jimmy Hoffa. Finally, Part III deals with the fallout of the Hoffa arc and sees Frank’s friends slowly wither away.
Essentially, this is “The Irishman” as it is with 30 minutes of cut content and a much more digestible mode of presentation.
So, why exactly does “The Irishman” exist as a single film? My theory is that, in true Oscar bait form, it’s a final attempt at Oscar glory for Marty and his aging band of actors to hit the stage with a little gold man in hand. It makes sense, as there’s still a lot more glitz and praise surrounding the Oscars than the Emmys, plus the movie business is where “The Irishman” crew made their bones. Still, I can’t help but feel that “The Irishman” would have much more of a right to exist if it was properly broken down into three tightly woven parts.
Sam Zavada is a copy editor with The Standard-Speaker in Hazleton. He previously served as the news clerk at The Standard-Speaker, working with the obituaries and the community and lifestyle pages. Sam’s work in print dates back to his time at King’s College, where he spent two years as the editor in chief of the school’s newspaper, The Crown. Earlier in his time with The Crown, he worked as a staff writer and the entertainment manager. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.