When this movie came out in 2016 it was the final film directed by a woman who was going to receive a wide release. It opened opposite Fantastic Beasts, and as you can imagine it did not do all that well. It didn’t do poorly – grossing $18mil on a $9mil budget is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s also not great for a movie that opened in over 2000 theaters. It was originally scheduled for a September release, but was moved to November (possibly to help its awards chances), which I think hurt its chance to become a sleeper hit (we have so few of those these days). I had a twitter chain about the film go viral, which led to me guesting on the Filmspotting podcast, where I talked about the film, as well as my ever-growing list of films about teenager girls directed by women. (There’s a larger conversation to be had about how the conversation around Ladybird was all on how few films about teenage girls are about women when a) this film had literally been released a year earlier and b) my list is over 200 films as of writing this). I was a big fan of Hailee Steinfeld from her turn in True Grit, so I was really excited that she was finally going to get a big launch film (if only it had pushed her into the stratosphere like Easy A did for Emma Stone!)
I think I first saw this film when I was in High School. If I remember correctly, I rented it because I was going through a Willem Dafoe phase (yes, really). My mother watched it with me because she had really enjoyed the film when it first came out. Then she told me about how she’d seen the real Ron Kovic speak at an event once and she thought Cruise had really captured his spirit. There’s a lot of themes in this movie; because it is directed by Oliver Stone, it isn’t particularly subtle with its point of view. But, from what I gather, neither was Ron Kovic. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning two: Best Sound, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing (Won), Best Actor, Best Director (won), Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Dead Poets Society, Field of Dreams, My Left Foot and winner Driving Miss Daisy.