When Jordan Peele’s hit thriller Get Out opened in theaters in February, few would have predicted that it would emerge nine months later as a leading awards season contender. That’s a feat that no film has accomplished since Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs traveled a 13-month road from its February 1991 release to its Best Picture victory on Oscar night in March 1992. The movie’s staying power is a clear sign that audiences and critics aren’t the only ones who embraced Peele’s timely movie; people within the industry love it as well. Steven Soderbergh, for one, expressed his admiration for the film on his Twitter feed recently, proclaiming it “the movie of the year.”
Why isn’t GET OUT—which is the movie of the year so far—in the correct format on HBO? #hatepanscan
— Bitchuation (@Bitchuation) November 5, 2017
Speaking with Yahoo Entertainment, the Logan Lucky director elaborated on that rave review. “That movie is like Halley’s Comet to me; you have something that not only blew up commercially, but also becomes a cultural touchpoint. What he did was so unique that it resonates beyond its success — he found a really unique way to talk about race.” Soderbergh is such a fan of Peele’s vision, he wants the film to be seen in its optimal version. That’s why his original tweet also included a direct dig at HBO’s choice to play a pan-and-scanned version of Get Out instead of honoring its original theatrical composition. “My real bête noire is panning and scanning. Given that we’re in a high-def world with horizontally shaped screens, I don’t understand why we’re continuing to do it. If I were going to start a political party, that would be its sole platform.”
One early wrinkle that has cropped up in Get Out‘s march towards the Oscars is whether or not it fits into a specific genre box. The recent announcement that the film would compete in the Best Comedy or Musical category at the Golden Globes, for example, has raised several eyebrows, including Peele’s. “There are no jokes in the movie. It’s all meant to feel true,” the writer-director remarked to CBS. Asked for his thoughts about Get Out‘s Globes classification, Soderbergh points to the equally questionable call to classify Ridley Scott’s 2015 survival story, The Martian, as a comedy. “After The Martian, I don’t know how seriously we’re supposed to take this categorization, because I think everybody was baffled by that. As long as it’s getting attention, then I’m happy, because it deserves it. It’s one of those films that really does blur a line, because in some ways I can see it as a comedy, even if the ultimate impression you get is just shock and horror. The movie is funny, but it’s the kind of laughs that catch in your throat.”
Another reason for Soderbergh’s admiration for Get Out may be his recognition that he’ll never make a movie that tackles race in quite the same way. The director expressed similar sentiments about Mad Max: Fury Road to The Hollywood Reporter, remarking: “I tell you I couldn’t direct 30 seconds of that. I don’t understand how hundreds of people aren’t dead.” Of course, making a contemporary thriller is less technically demanding, not to mention dangerous, than an apocalyptic action movie. Soderbergh says that his next film, Unsane, which opens in theaters in March, will fall into the same horror-thriller territory that Get Out occupies. Filmed entirely on an iPhone, the movie stars Claire Foy, Juno Temple, and Jay Pharoah and follows a woman who is placed in a mental institution against her will and comes face-to-face with her greatest fear.
“If you’re a woman, it’s a horror film, and if you’re a man, it’s something different,” Soderbergh teases. “Get Out shows how efficient genre is as a delivery system for ideas, so there’s an undercurrent of social commentary in Unsane that’s interesting. It’s something you can either choose to pay attention to or not — it doesn’t affect your engagement with the story. The circumstances that this young woman finds herself in is fascinating on a social anthropology level.”
Logan Lucky is currently available on digital and arrives on Blu-ray on Nov. 28. Unsane premieres in theaters on March 23, 2018.
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