An identity crisis at the American border

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This unconventional western on the destructive impacts of gender roles and societal stereotypes is already making the buzz at the Oscars

The months of November and December mark each year the peak of the quality of film releases as the major studios release their hopes for the Oscars. With so many new movies released in the past two weeks, it can be difficult to pick one out of the bunch to watch. Make no mistake, “The Power of the Dog,” released on Netflix on December 1, is a must-see for anyone watching the Oscars as it will dominate the total number of Oscar nominations and is sure to appear in the Oscars. conversations about rewards.

The film is set in 1920s Montana as Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch) struggles to cope with societal visions of masculinity, class, and love once his brother George (Jesse Plemons) steps down. marries and brings his bride, Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst) to Burbank Cattle Ranch.

Phil, a macho and hostile individual, forms an unlikely relationship with Rose’s delicate and sensitive son, Peter Gordon (Kodi Smit-McPhee). A tense, precisely crafted story ensues that requires repeated viewings to capture all of the symbolism and hidden meanings.

With her nuanced, layered staging in “The Power of the Dog,” Jane Campion is set to be nominated for another Oscar in directing.

This is the first time that director Jane Campion has held the executive chair in over 12 years. Campion has pushed the boundaries for women in the film industry since being nominated for Best Director at the 1994 Oscars for “The piano.” She is one of the seven directors be nominated for the best director at the Oscars. With her nuanced, layered staging in “The Power of the Dog,” she is set to be nominated for another Oscar for Directing, making her the first woman to be nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Director.

In a surprising twist, this western focuses primarily on character relationships rather than action, which makes the film more meaningful and, ironically, more intense than if it relied on Western staples like violence and fighting. . The combination of costumes and music from the film blend together to bring the pressure that each character feels to live up to socially constructed personalities and gender roles.

The costumes provide insight into the characters, often reflecting their insecurities. Right from the very foreground of Phil, the central figure in the story, he’s dripping with masculinity with his greased hair back, spurs, furry pants, and overalls. He has a harshness and impenetrability that makes him domineering and curled up on others, radiating the harshness that was associated with men during this time.

Phil’s appearance contrasts sharply with that of his brother George who wears suits, bow ties and top hats, representing his professionalism and intelligence. Peter, who forms an unexpected bond with Phil, represents everything Phil is not: feminine, sensitive and physically weak, presenting himself as harmless and innocent. This is accentuated by the sun hats and the loose, short clothes he wears. The costume design choices put preconceptions in the minds of the audience about who these characters are and what they are capable of. So as not to spoil the final act, I’ll leave you with this: appearances can be deceptive.

Adding to the tension is an obsession but nice note by Jonny Greenwood, composed entirely of stringed instruments and a piano. Subtle changes in key and tempo create a baffling vibe, amplifying the way characters like Phil and Rose struggle with their identities.

Look for “The Power of the Dog” in the spotlight this Oscar season, as it’s one of the top contenders for Best Picture due to its critiques of what power, strength, and masculinity look like. Categories like Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Music are also sure-fire bets, and don’t be surprised to see the film earn multiple acting nominations.

“The power of the dog” is a reminder to stay true to yourself.

Cumberbatch is a Best Actor favorite for his dark and tragic portrayal of Phil Burbank. Any scene with him is a treat, as he’s come to terms with his role as a villain, which is quite different from the roles viewers are used to seeing him play as Doctor Strange in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Smit-McPhee is set to earn his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Peter. His manners and tone illuminate Peter’s sensitivity and unease towards the macho male society of which he is a part. Finally, Dunst is one of the main contenders for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Rose Gordon. Through Dunst’s facial expressions and speech, Rose’s spiral downhill into madness and alcoholism is mentally exhausting to watch.

Ultimately, “The Power of the Dog” is a reminder to stay true to yourself. Your identity is yours, not a social construct. Embrace it and choose who you want to be.

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