I do love Ron Howard, but for some reason I was not super excited about the prospect of seeing Frost/Nixon, but I still intended to see it because I know Ron Howard makes movies worth seeing. Well, I saw Frost/Nixon today and I can safely say that I was not at all disappointed in it, in fact I was enthralled by the film.
Frost/Nixon is the tale of David Frost who is a British television personality who decides it would be good TV, and exposure for himself to get an interview with Richard Nixon post his abdication of the presidency and the difficulties he faces when he succeeds in getting that interview. For me I think that this movie fell in the same category as The Queen and I was uninterested because I felt no need for another political history lesson. However, just as The Queen surprised me in its ability to entice me Frost/Nixon grabbed me and kept me rooted to my seat without ever feeling like I was watching a history channel dramatization; instead Ron Howard managed to make me feel like I was in the room with Frost and Nixon and their associates watching a game of tennis or a tug-of-war that neither personality could afford to lose.
What I did find delightful was Frank Langella’s portrayal of Richard Nixon. I’ve had the experience of visiting the Nixon library several times as it is remarkable close to my house and have therefore seen way more of Nixon than I ever wanted to; I believe due to this when I watched Langella in the Frost/Nixon trailer I couldn’t help but feel like he was a Nixon imposter, and it bothered me. However, between the talents of Langella and Howard when I was actually watching the film in its entirety Langella became Nixon for me. I am not sure that Langella deserves an Oscar for the performance, but he definitely deserves the nomination as he somehow captures the essence of Nixon’s stubborn ruthlessness and still manages to make him empathetic and slightly likeable.
So far out of all the films that actually scored a best picture nomination this year I’d have to say that Frost/Nixon would get my vote, but I do think they Oscar’s are a forgone conclusion this year and Slumdog Millionaire will be taking home the gold.
Director: Ron Howard
Writer: Peter Morgan
Richard Nixon: Frank Langella
David Frost: Michael Sheen
James Reston, Jr: Sam Rockwell
Jack Brennan: Kevin Bacon
John Birt: Matthew Macfadyen
Bob Zelnick: Oliver Platt
Caroline Cushing: Rebecca Hall
Pat Nixon: Patty McCormack
James Reston, Jr.: You know the first and greatest sin of the deception of television is that it simplifies; it diminishes great, complex ideas, trenches of time; whole careers become reduced to a single snapshot.