50/50 deserves every bit as much Oscar love as The Descendants which is going to get its share. Both films are about dealing with terrible news and living through those stages of grief and 50/50 more than holds its own in that comparison.
Instead Academy members will probably see 50/50 as a diversion for people in their 20s, as light and comedic, and as another Seth Rogen getting stoned kind of movie. Well, it is actually those things within its frames, but it is so much more.
I’ve seen it twice now. The first time I actually saw an Academy screener on Christmas Day with my kids. Then we took the DVD with us to the mountains and watched it with family again. Everybody loves this movie. My daughter and I are particularly taken by it because we love Seth Rogan on camera and this movie makes him seem like the best friend I’d hope to have if I just got hit with a cancer diagnosis. Some people find his character-type annoying, but I find it honest and passionate and funny. If I get bad news, and he’ll come by, I’m so down with that.
The script for 50/50 has, appropriately, been nominated by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) for their screenplay award for the work of Will Reiser who, incidentally, was actually diagnosed with a spinal tumor and is close friends with the real Rogan who apparently was there for Reiser during his cancer surgery and treatment.
The story is great. It’s not a treacly stupid cancer movie. Way, way cooler than Terms of Endearment and certainly no Brian’s Song.
The performances are top-notch and, of course, it was a brave act for Joseph Gordon-Levitt to shave his head for real on camera. That was Steve Carell-getting-his-chest-hair-removed cool. He gives a great performance as Adam.
And although I love Seth Rogan in Funny People playing another friend of a terminally ill guy, I like him most here, playing the amped-up but heartfelt version of himself. The film is bursting with great acting: Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ajelica Huston and the incredible Philip Baker Hall.
If you’re an Academy voter who hasn’t seen 50/50 and still has your ballot out, put on the DVD you’ve got laying around in that gargantuan stack of screeners in your media space. And then vote for its obvious excellence.