With so many “best of the year” lists being released it’s easy to forget that the Coen Brothers had a film this year. Had Hail, Caesar! been released in the fall it would undoubtedly be more omnipresent on the aforementioned lists. Even so Hail, Caesar! is not No Country For Old Men, or any of the other beloved Coen classics, it’s lesser Coen but that’s still better than 90% of the films released in a given year.
Hail, Caesar! is a simple film, with a lot of moving parts. The main gist of the film revolves around a studio head Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), attempting to get his biggest picture “Hail Caesar!” finished, as its star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) has been kidnapped. From most promotional material it seems that Clooney is in fact the main star of the picture, however Brolin is really the pivotal element of the film instead. Mannix is the type of character that is a simple delight to have on screen. He is constantly maneuvering through the studio system balancing complex relationships. He can deal with problems using a blunt threat, whilst easing in to politely reaffirming a journalist’s importance next scene. One of the primary plot points in the film is that Mannix has been offered a good job in a calm office. By the film’s end the plot point is finished quite succinctly with little fanfare, and you can understand why he makes the decision he does.
This film is just a constant delight to watch. It brings the feel of the 1950’s, and sheds a light on some potential up and coming actors. Remember the name Alden Ehrenreich who plays Hobie Doyle in the film, as I guarantee he’ll be a real life Hollywood player in the coming years. Accompaning the up and comers are some of the greatest Hollywood actors of our time doing outstanding supporting performances. You have Channing Tatum as a musical star turned communist, Tilda Swinton as a pair of sister reporters, Scarlett Johansson, a synchronized swimmer accompanied by Jonah Hill who plays the unassuming insurance agent who she falls in love with. Ralph Fiennes is an eccentric director and it goes on and on. These are the best actors of our time, all seemingly having a fantastic time.
This is a film not to miss out on. You will gain an appreciation and knowledge of the studio system, all the while enjoying snappy dialogue between great characters. If you want to decide for yourself catch Hail, Caesar! on HBO debuting this Christmas Eve at 8:00pm. Here’s a promo highlighting some of those many characters: