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« Take Three: Extra-Terrestrial Abduction Day | Main | Would you rather? »
Tuesday
Mar192019

Yes No Maybe So: "Lucy in the Sky"

by Nathaniel R

We're finally excited about 2019. The culprit is one Lucy in the Sky which is neither a Beatle biopic nor a sequel to Lucy in which ScarJo became some sort of supercomputer with black tentacles. Instead it's a sci-fi drama with Natalie Portman playing an astronaut named Lucy. Wasn't Portman going to do Gravity (2013) at one point? Anyway she finally gets her chance to do the wide-eyed-at- the-mysteries-of-the-cosmos thang here. Arguably she's already been there via Annihilation (2018) but that was less wide-eyed with wonder and more wide-eyed with "we're all gonna die" tension.

Lucy in the Sky is the feature directorial debut of Noah Hawley who made his name on various TV shows including the surreal superhero drama Legion, the one with Dan Stevens and his multiple personalities. We'll break down the trailer after the jump with our Yes No Maybe So system...

YES

• "Lucy, time to wrap it up" over that sustained closeup of Portman's gorgeous awestruck eyes. Very promising start
• That red door and the frame shrinking --  Hello aspect ratio hijinx. We love a director who is unafraid to play with form. In fact, there are expansions and constrictions of multiple kinds here, not just in the aspect ratio. For instance What was THIS shot? 

• "I'm fine"... an excellent bookend choice for the teaser, we're once again just absorbing the minutae of Portman's memorable face and what she might be thinking. Looks like a real Best Actressy showcase. Yes!
• The staccato nature of the voiceover makes it hard to really absorb this. Very disjointed but we're meant to be offbalance as Lucy clearly is when returning from space. Portman with a heavy accent? Yes please. It's so fun that her acting has been getting so big-swing bold lately (see Vox Lux and Jackie for prime examples) 

NO

Why Dan Stevens always gotta be so shifty looking? Must be the 'stacheIs Nat torn between Dan & Jon? Tough life she leads.

• Um... so it looks like Dan Stevens is the husband and Jon Hamm is the co-worker/lover? If there is a lot dull adultery drama inbetween the hypnotic imagery this might not be as exciting as it looks.
• The trailer ends with a list of actors names and it was only then we discovered that Ellen Burstyn was in it. You got The Burstyn and you can't even show her in the trailer? WTF. No respect. Well, there is one shot of what looks like a crowd at a funeral so maybe Burstyn is somewhere in that sequence. Mostly the trailer is all Portman all the time with a little Jon Hamm thrown in. Even Zazie Beetz barely gets a shot here. If you waste both Beetz and Burstyn we will have words with you, filmmakers. 

MAYBE SO

• Is this a period piece? Does that explain the famous 1970s Dorothy Hamill haircut on Portman? If it's not a period piece and this is just an affection that's a lot of affectations for one movie (retro hair, southern twang, aspect ratio changes, flamboyant direction). 
• This is apparently loosely based on the story of this woman but how loosely? Like "based on" or a fantastical "inspired by" pure sci-fi thing?

It might be toomuch... but for now it looks very enticing. We're a total yes. 

THE TEASER TRAILER IF YOU HAVEN'T YET SEEN IT...

Are you a Yes, No, or a Maybe So? Or do you need to see more than a teaser to decide?

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Reader Comments (33)

This looks freakin fantastic.

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterThe AG

Still prefer Pale Blue Dot as the title.

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

One of my most anticipated movies of the year. (I have been on the Portman train for a long time, I'm glad everyone else is catching up.)

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Portman should be really proud of her career. If you don't go on to do interesting, risky, creatively audacious things then there's no point in winning an Oscar. Charlize is probably my favorite example of this. But Natalie, Emma Stone and others demonstrate it really well. An Oscar should be liberating!

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJF

Love Portman and love how she became a major actress after arresting everyone 25 yrs ago.

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I was a hard pass until I saw Hawley was attached.

I will walk through fire to watch anything that guy does.

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Damn! A stripper, a ballet dancer, a first lady, a pop star and now an astronaut? Natalie Portman is definitely the most interesting performer of her generation.

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJorge

I've grown to hate LEGION but Hawley's FARGO is so freaking much better than it has any right to be that I too will watch anything he does, for now. I'm hoping this is less infatuated with itself than LEGION is and that he can rein himself in a little. He has fantastic taste in actors though.

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJason

With that title... Really?

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBrown Cow Stunning

I'm in.

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

Could've sworn that this was based (in part at least) on the strange, real-life case of an astronaut who drove non-stop from Texas to Florida for a crime of passion.

P.S. Pale Blue Dot is a much more intriguing title, I agree.

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

I actually like this title better. And I like Natalie Portman & Jon Hamm (not so much for Ellen Burstyn). The trailer looks good, so this is a go for me.

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDian

I would love to not have to see this.

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

I still prefer the original title. Pale Blue Dot. I'm on fucking board for this. It's PO'TMAN MOTHAFUCKA!!!!

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

That title?!?!?!

"Fixing a Hole" or "She's Leaving Home" would've been much better. Even "Here, There, and Everywhere" if we're moving beyond Sgt. Pepper

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterParanoid Android

Portman is a 2-Oscars-actress material. Maybe not for this, but she's gonna win again

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

In the first shot, I kept wondering why an astronaut would be wearing so much eye makeup. If you’re deglamming with the haircut and the wardrobe, why not go all the way?

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBiggs

This was already on my radar but the trailer makes me even more excited. I love the damn near magical realism vibe going on here.

March 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

I LOATHE Portman. I'm still angry at her stupid "And the five MALE nominees" crack at the 2018 Globes... Plus she stole Annette's Oscar! Also: has anyone else noticed how many times she says "like" per sentence? Like watch like her 2016 like interview like with the charming Michelle Williams, who wasn't the beneficiary of an expensive Ivy League education...

March 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFantastic Mr. Fox

Never heard of her.

March 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMillie

Not being very fantastic there Mr. Fox.

March 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLikey McLikenberg

@LikeyMcLikenberg, He's not NOT wrong, tho. Imagine the backlash if someone like Amy Schumer had made those remarks...

March 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFlicka

In this movie she looks somewhat like Kristy McNichol. I am a maybe so (like Natalie Portman a lot but not so much John Hamm; I think he is more of a tv actor than big screen)

March 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

Honestly it looks pretty bland.

March 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

Annihilation and Vox Lux scared me off from Portman films as she's starting to seem a little try-hard. Even Jackie, which I liked, seems a little bit forced in retrospect. Thus, I'm a maybe so.

March 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

if Portman didn’t win for Jackie (an oscar bait showcase that she was TREMENDOUS in in a weak nominee year), she ain’t ever winning another oscar, not for Lead Actress anyways. Still bizzare to me that such a slight performance (although breezy and likeable) as Stone’s took it.

Stone’s 4th best performance (Favourite, Easy A and Battle of the Sexes all miles better); oddly oscar took to La La over all the others.

March 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAnon

No

March 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMax

Nikki -- Bland? Omg. That's about the last word I'd used to describe a film trailer where the aspect ratio keeps changing and sets seem to move in mid scene and it keeps shifting from reality to presumed dreamscape.

I mean it might be bad (who knows) but it doesn't look like it'll be bland.

March 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Anon - 2016 was such a strong year for Best Actress that Amy Adams was overlooked for Arrival. And Portman didn't have a chance with Jackie because people were so tired of politics that year - not to mention the Academy loved La La Land. If we didn't have the preferential ballot, I'm sure it would have won Best Picture as well.

People tend to build momentum for Oscar wins (I tried to make this point regarding Close last year - she didn't have enough recent momentum for a Best Actress win in such a small movie). Portman is certainly making her case for a second Oscar.

March 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I'm in simply because Portman is the most interesting actress of her generation.

March 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

I do appreciate when a big-name actress is unafraid to take risks and works with auteurs (see also: Kidman). Portman is not one of my favorites, but I like her and think she's been making some interesting choices. I LOVED Annihilation, although not really because of her performance (or anyone's, really--the performances are good but it's not a big acting showcase).

I actually did not like Jackie, and I thought she was good-but-not-great in it. I'm way more on board with Stone's win than most on this site seem to be.

March 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJJM

Thanks for bringing up Kidman as that's who immediately came to mind when thinking of (most of) Portman's post-Black Swan projects. She clearly is choosing to work with more avant-garde filmmakers, which is so smart on her part. Hope this continues.

March 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

idk Portmans HBO series about Gorillas sounds awful. BUT this looks great.

March 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAnon

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