Michael Mann is roaring back onto the scene with his first movie in eight years, and Adam Driver is in another buzzy biopic playing a revolutionary Italian entrepreneur. Beyond those credentials that seem to have Oscar nominations written all over them, the actual substance of Ferrari looks to be up to par if the latest trailer is any indication.
Enzo Ferrari’s competitive ferocity didn’t seem to endear him to many people. I’m not a massive car guy nor a gear heard, but Adam Driver, in my humble opinion, is the best actor of his generation. That’s an opinion shared by Martin Scorsese. Or at least he said “one of the best…if not the best…actors of his generation.”
That seems to be on full display here yet again. We’re getting some raw, grounded racing footage combined with a gritty-looking family drama. You’d be inclined to be cynical or bored with well-worn narrative territory such as this if it wasn’t Mann behind the camera and Driver as the lead.
When you look at Ferrari today as a car company, it seems like the ultimate standard in fast, luxury automobiles, right? Then you look at the racing side — what this movie focuses on — and they had the most valuable Formula One team in 2023 at $3.13 billion. SHEESH.
Sure seems like it was a bit of a mess for a while there, several decades back, before Ferrari rose to immense prominence as a company.
Even non-racing fans should go into this film intrigued by the plot. If the trailer is any indication, we’re in for a kinetic, charged-up central performance from Driver. The Christmas Day release date suggests this is being positioned for an awards-season run.
Ferrari‘s Oscars Campaign
Driver boasts a dizzying diversity of roles across his filmography. A soft-spoken, bus-driving poet in Paterson. A redeemed Star Wars villain. An emaciated 17th-century priest for Scorsese in Silence. I’ll blather on and on to no end if I go through everything. That’s not even the visible part of the iceberg that is the depths of this man’s talent.
All that’s really missing from Driver’s resume is one of those big award wins. To be clear, those are a twisted kind of pageantry based on “who’s due” or more accurately, whose project boasts the strongest marketing budget.
I was pleasantly surprised when Everything Everywhere All At Once tore through the Oscars. So well-deserved. This year’s race is a little strange, because due to the WGA strike (now resolved) and the SAG-AFTRA strike (still ongoing), release dates have been pushed back, and promotion for upcoming projects has been extremely limited.
In spite of the tumultuous state of the industry, there are actually a lot of worthy contenders for this year’s race in the major categories. As far as Best Picture, Ferrari is likely on the outside looking in despite favorable early returns from critics. It has a respectable 74% on Rotten Tomatoes from 43 reviews from its premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, however, is all the way to 94% from 190 reviews.
Other biographical movies I’d expect to gain steam are Bradley Cooper’s passion project Maestro about Leonard Bernstein, the Ridley Scott-directed, Joaquin Phoenix-starring Napoleon, and Rustin, an American civil rights-set drama starring Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin.
DAMN the biopic subgenre is loaded! Kind of an uphill battle for Mann and/or Driver given the star power on display in the projects above. The perceived crown jewel of all of those type of films already came out, though. Christopher Nolan (Best Director), Cillian Murphy (Best Actor) and their movie itself Oppenheimer (Best Picture) are, to me, the clubhouse favorites in those respective major categories.
I could see Ferrari getting Oscar and other major award nominations for categories such as sound, editing, or makeup/hairstyling for aging Driver up effectively. That’s about all.
Once more, these awards races and the accolades themselves are so bizarre by principle. Art and movies are all subjective, as is the evaluation of acting, directing and all these other artistic categories. It’s wild that this is even a thing when you really break it down.
Regardless of the success or failure of an Oscars push, I’ll be in my seat Day 1, locked in — may try to nab an advance screening during Christmas Eve day or something — ready to see Adam Driver chew up scenery and Michael Mann make an epic return to filmmaking.