Wednesday, 12 Dec 2018

John Krasinski turned 'A Quiet Place' into a surprise hit. So how about an Oscar?

The actor, screenwriter and director of "The Quiet Place", John Krasinski, was this week in Washington for the American Ingenuity Awards. (André Chung / For the Washington Post)

John Krasinski knew that he was very likely to get hurt by hand when he attended the screening test of "A Quiet Place." A horror film about a family fighting largely unseen creatures attacking at the slightest sound, the film happens without verbal dialogue: The characters communicate with American sign language or through significant looks and gestures. It was not Krasinski's first effort as a director; Despite this, he and his wife, Emily Blunt – who play parents in "A Quiet Place" – were not sure that the audience would accept a genre image that is more reminiscent of the silent roots of cinema than its special effects present.

But during the test screening, towards the end of the feedback session, a manager asked the audience if there was something that creative or marketing teams "needed to know" about the film. "And this guy raised his hand and he was shaking," Krasinski recalls earlier this week. "And he's going," What are you need know about this movie is that I snuck into a bag of bowling games and for 90 minutes I held it as this"- Krasinski raised both hands with pinched fingers -" and never exceeded the tear. "

Millions of people were also seduced by "A Quiet Place," which became one of the first real phenomena of 2018, an exciting $ 17 million project that brought in more than $ 340 million, making it not only an unexpected commercial bonanza success. At a time when studios are putting their chips on remakes and sequels, exploiting their archives to find intellectual property that they can exploit, this audacious exercise in pure cinema proves that an original film, without audience gap or intrinsic franchise potential, can still attract moviegoers to theaters.

And now, Krasinski, 39, hopes that "A quiet place" can prove another concept, namely that a genre film can still earn prizes. He traveled to Washington on Wednesday to receive the Smithsonian Magazine's American Ingenuity Award for Visual Arts. The stop is part of a strategy to overcome an obstacle faced by films released early in the year. As the awards ceremony begins unofficially at the August and September Film Festivals, studios usually hold their prestige photos for the end of the year, capitalizing on free red carpet and best-of-list advertising, and overwhelming moviegoers with a fire hose full of great movies after nine months of drought.

The recall tour could work well: Tuesday, the American Film Institute announced that "A Quiet Place" was among the top 10 films of 2018; Thursday, the film was nominated for the Golden Globe for the best score. It is already on the best lists of several film critics. Each mention helps place "A Quiet Place" at the top of the Oscars voters who will present their nominations in January.

Obviously, an Oscar nomination, let alone a win, will not help "A Quiet Place" at the box office. But Krasinski is invested, if only to prove that the artistic sophistication, technical excellence and emotional intimacy that we usually associate with "reward films" can be applied to a film of Horror or action just as much as a literary room piece or a highly refined play. A few weeks ago, he said, he was misquoted by saying that he "hated" the idea of ​​a new Oscar for the best popular film. "I do not hate that," he insisted. "It seems like a slippery slope. So what will be the best movie with a cast of women? "

As for "A quiet place," he said, receiving awards would mean that his film could be considered excellent, regardless of genre, "that movies could actually supplant all versions. It was the same with "Get Out" and "Bridesmaids" … You can not tell people, "It's a good movie, except an asterisk that does it too." this. "

Control, he observed, basically concerns what counts as canon. "Why did we change what's a good movie?" He asks. "A good movie is a good movie. An exploit is a feat. . . . For me, the narration can come from anywhere. It does not have to be a little movie about someone committing suicide. It can be a very big huge movie. "Black Panther" moved me. There was something much bigger than anything a movie was supposed to do. "

Oscar or not, Krasinski said that "A Quiet Place" had changed his life, not only because he had worked with Blunt, but because it had fulfilled a deeply personal sense of mission that he did not know not that he had before embarking on the project. . Originally approached to play in the film, he only agreed that he could rewrite it; when he shared his ideas with Blunt – who was holding their daughter aged 3 weeks at the time – she told him that he had to lead. The resulting film ended up expressing all the worries he was trying to solve as a husband and father struggling with issues of fear, vulnerability, helplessness and fierce determination to protect those you love.

And, strangely, his usual move with Everydude Jim Halpert on the sitcom "The Office" had more to do with his approach to "A Quiet Place" than many might think. One of the first tips he received from the show's producer, Greg Daniels, was not to be funny. "You do not know you're funny," Daniels told him about Jim. "So, if you just deliver your lines and people think you're funny, that's their decision, if people think that what you're telling Pam makes them cry, that's their decision as well."

He said that when he was prepared to direct the film, "if I had said, I will make the best horror film you have ever seen," not only did I could not have done it, but would have made a horrible movie. Instead, he thought, "If you consider this as a family, commit yourself to that and to it fully. That was exactly what Greg said about my character in 'The Office': do not write scary. Write what you know. Write what people believe. "

Krasinski insisted that this emotional heart – rather than the frights of the jump or the explosive storm test – explains why the public reacted so strongly to "A quiet place". And that's why Blunt, who has just been nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in "Mary Poppins Returns," insists that time and space be allocated to him to talk about " At Quiet Place "as she prepares for the Disney musical. "Until now, it's her favorite movie that she's ever made," Krasinski said.

As for the rewards themselves, it is philosophical. "Nobody will tell you that if you do not win an Oscar, you lose something," he said. "But you can certainly win something in the conversation about what the movies are."


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