In the fallout of the 2016 election, J. D. Vance’s memoir Hillbilly Elegy became a nationwide hit, as media pundits sought to understood President Trump’s victory and influence over the rust belt states. The notion of the “Real America” became a hot-button topic, and one that Vance’s memoir supposedly captured in all of its depictions of economic anxiety and white working class poverty. Which means it was ripe for a sentimental adaptation by Ron Howard, with none other than Oscar nominees Glenn Close and Amy Adams chewing the scenery and donning bad wigs and old-age make-up to earn their long-awaited trophies. Watch the Hillbilly Elegy trailer below.
Hillbilly Elegy Trailer
Based on author J.D. Vance’s book of the same same, Hillbilly Elegy follows the writer (played by Gabriel Basso) as he’s on the verge of landing a prestigious job when a family crisis drags him back to the Appalachian hometown he had spent so long trying to escape. There he’s forced to grapple with his mother Bev’s (Adams) drug addiction while reconciling his memories of his sharp grandmother, Mamaw (Close), who raised him.
Already, awards pundits are speculating that this film will be a major Oscar contender, with special attention to the performances of Close and Adams, who could finally win the Oscars that have long eluded them. And they certainly give performances that the Academy just loves to award these days — overwrought, over-the-top, and with layers of old-age make-up and bedraggled wigs that prove that the beautiful actresses are willing to “transform” for the role. It’s all so transparent and hokey, and I can’t help but fear that this could be the movie that finally wins Adams her an Oscar, and not the dozens of past performances that actually allow her nuance and complexity.
Hillbilly Elegy‘s timing also couldn’t be worse — on the eve of the 2020 elections, when the idea of Trump’s “Real America” has long been found to be a fallacy that excuses the underlying racist foundations of the country. If Hillbilly Elegy does gain traction during the awards season race, I can see it becoming this year’s Oscar villain.
Here is the synopsis for Hillbilly Elegy, which also stars Haley Bennett and Freida Pinto:
J.D. Vance (Gabriel Basso), a former Marine from southern Ohio and current Yale Law student, is on the verge of landing his dream job when a family crisis forces him to return to the home he’s tried to forget. J.D. must navigate the complex dynamics of his Appalachian family, including his volatile relationship with his mother Bev (Amy Adams), who’s struggling with addiction. Fueled by memories of his grandmother Mamaw (Glenn Close), the resilient and whip-smart woman who raised him, J.D. comes to embrace his family’s indelible imprint on his own personal journey.
Hillbilly Elegy is set to debut is in select theaters around the country throughout November ahead of its Netflix streaming debut on November 24, 2020.