Circuit Considerations: David Lowery in ‘A Ghost Story’ for Best Director

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Oscar ballots were sent to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, or better known as the Academy members, on Friday, Jan. 5.  We’ll be using the next week to remind the voting membership of our favorite films and performance of 2017 that they should consider when filling out their ballots!  If you missed one, then please click on the “Circuit Considerations 2017” tag.  You can also check out the “Best of 2017” column where the Editor cited the year’s best.  Oscar ballots are due on Friday, Jan. 12.

Film: “A Ghost Story”
For Your Consideration: Best Director
Director: David Lowery
Screenplay: David Lowery
Realistic Nominations: None
Oscar Scene: C watches M listen to his song “I Get Overwhelmed” and reaches out to her.

When a filmmaker goes off with some prior collaborators and makes a secret movie, completely under the radar, it tends to be a lark. For David Lowery, he opted to make a singular contemplation of death, life, memory, and time itself. The result was “A Ghost Story,” not just one of the year’s best films, but one of 2017’s crowning directorial achievements. Often, when thinking of top-tier directing efforts, Best Director can be about flashiness and style. Here, we just have a master craftsman taking his audience on a unique and unforgettable journey. That’s worthy of some recognition for Lowery, no question about it.

When describing “A Ghost Story,” it’s hard to not make it sound dull and pretentious. Sure, there are big stars in it with Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. There’s even Lowery, fresh off making a big budget Disney flick in “Pete’s Dragon.” Still, when you explain that 80% of the running time features Affleck under a white sheet walking around, observing the world as a ghost, it turns folks off. That’s a real shame too, as Lowery accomplished a miracle of a movie here. At its worst, it would have felt like a pale Terrence Malick imitation. The best is what we got here, however. The feelings of loss experienced on both sides is palpable. Never before has anyone allowed you to identify with a ghost in this way before. As the themes grow and we move beyond just watching Affleck observe Mara’s grieving process, you just want to hug Lowery for his ambition. Voters in the Director’s Branch should take heed of this home run.

Despite occasion critical citations, Lowery’s direction has not been looked at as something the Academy is likely to cite. “A Ghost Story” is not Oscar-friendly in the traditional sense, but what Lowery accomplished with his filmmaking certainly is. This Circuit Consideration is hoping that voters defy the odds, choose their crop of Best Director nominees solely on the individual achievement, and surprise everyone with a Lowery nomination. The tears of sorrow shed during “A Ghost Story” could then turn into tears of joy for a phenomenal outside the box selection.

Comment and discuss! Also, include future suggestions for Circuit Considerations!

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Written by Joey Magidson

When he’s not obsessing over new Oscar predictions on a weekly basis, Joey is seeing between 300 and 350 movies a year. He views the best in order to properly analyze the awards race/season each year, but he also watches the worst for reasons he mostly sums up as "so you all don't have to". In his spare time, you can usually find him complaining about the Jets or the Mets. Still, he lives and dies by film. Joey's a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.


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