Tag: jeff nichols

ACF #32: Mud


Ready Player One is a worldwide hit and the lead actor, teenager Tye Sheridan, is headed for fame. So your trusty podcast brings you the story on his best performance, in Jeff Nichols’s Mud, alongside Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, the late Sam Shepard, and Michael Shannon. The movie came out in 2012 and was nominated for the most important art film award, the Palme D’or at Cannes. It’s a coming-of-age story set in Nichols’s native Arkansas, on the Mississippi, and it owes a lot to both Mark Twain’s Huck Finn and Flannery O’Connor’s violence and religion storytelling. It’s all-American in the best way, not least because it showcases the full humanity of the drama of rural communities that seem to have run out of future.

“Loving,” or How to do Civil Rights Pictures Well


With this essay, I close my series on Oscar-nominated movies that should have won something. I take an un-romantic view of Hollywood, but I daresay I take beautification more seriously than most. It’s very hard for movies to compete with the kind of Disney/Marvel blockbuster that seems to have mesmerized the movie-going audience. It’s hard to argue with success in America. Organizing prestige a a kind of success that can at least occasionally withstand popularity is needful. It’s not working out as well as I would like, but it’s better than nothing. In 2016, this small, but influential side of movie-making gave us Loving, which I want to discuss today.

Americans have been treated to civil rights stories at the movies for almost a decade now. These are almost always prestige pictures, as opposed to popularity pictures. People who make them don’t really expect to make money by them–not that they would say no to wealth. This is one sign that morality still has a kind of purchase on the movie business. Of course, prestige is not an innocent pursuit, but what’s more important than suspecting people’s intentions now is trying to figure out what Americans might learn from these attempts to talk about justice and dignity. I think we’re broadly agreed that Americans need to pay more attention to history, but at the same time, that history is excessively revisionist these days. Possibly, the partisan character of the story-telling overcomes the all-American need for it. I think it’s true that the people who make these movies have not seen fit to make a great effort to address the American people as a whole, so there’s room for improvement.

Member Post


In the PIT, we had a good fight about movie criticism & what there is to criticize about American movies. Maybe you’re interested in seeing some movies made in America, usually about parts of America you don’t see in every spectacle–stuff that’s not the sort of ‘in the future, we’ll all be liberals pretending to […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.