Is 'Deadpool' A Good Movie? Its 2017 Golden Globe Nomination Shouldn't Cause Outrage
The Golden Globes are the bawdy relative of the Academy Awards: They're less prestigious, but more fun, and even (gasp!) acknowledge television. Because of that, it kind of makes perfect sense that Deadpool earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical. On the exterior, the R-rated, irreverent superhero movie about a man who doesn't want to be a superhero seems to be just the type of movie that the Golden Globes should acknowledge. However, does its Globes nomination mean that Deadpool is a good movie? While the film is good in the sense that it is entertaining, that doesn't necessarily mean it's worthy of awards show recognition — no matter what the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) thinks.
The Ryan Reynolds film definitely isn't the type of movie that awards shows have recognized before now and part of the film's charm comes from Reynolds himself. The foul-mouthed quip machine is a unique main character for a superhero movie and Reynolds even earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical or Comedy. While I certainly found Reynolds' performance amusing, its the "best" part that holds me up. Reynolds very much seemed to be playing a version of Reynolds I have seen time and time again (and no, I'm not even talking about his previous portrayal of Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine). Reynolds was just an extreme version of his public persona and as delightful as he is, that took away some of the "good"ness of the movie for me.
Yet, I did care about what happened to Deadpool, which is a very rare feeling for me to have during a superhero movie. (It's not like I'm ever legitimately concerned for the Avengers.) Deadpool was a dynamic character who was worth rooting for despite his unorthodox behavior. (What other superhero has masturbated to a unicorn?) The film also successfully convinced me of his love (and lust) for Vanessa and why his vendetta against Ajax was so justified. These were not only strengths of the movie, but also of Reynolds' performance since even when he's playing a version of himself, Reynolds can still act. Ed Skrein's performance as Ajax, though not similar to the actor himself, was also very compelling.
The non-linear structure of the movie was also a strong point. The opening scene immediately drew in the audience by freeze-framing the destruction of an action sequence while simultaneously establishing the film's tone with its mocking opening credits and the song choice of Juice Newton's "Angel of the Morning." As for the origin story, which is typically a boring prerequisite for superhero films, the flashback scenes in Deadpool were done in a fresh way that kept me engaged. And while voiceover narration can be a flaw for many movies, it was completely appropriate in Deadpool to not only give you insight into Wade Wilson, but to give you the world according to Deadpool — fourth wall breaking and all.
The story was relatively simple, which in many ways was appreciated since often superhero movies get bogged down by too many factors that never get fleshed out. Yet, the cleverness of the Deadpool character was dulled by the less than clever script. Why would Deadpool let Ajax out of his sight if he had spent a year looking for him? Why wouldn't Deadpool go back to Vanessa? (His shame over his new appearance wasn't a good enough reason.) And the idea that Wade refused to accept being a superhero was beaten into audience's heads with all the strength of Colossus.
This contradiction between how subversive Deadpool portrayed itself to be and how generic it actually was is the major flaw of the movie. Underneath the red suit and scarring, the guts of Deadpool are just like every other superhero film out there. That doesn't make it a bad movie, but it certainly doesn't make it revolutionary. While you could state that many dramas and comedies nominated for Golden Globes aren't revolutionary, there is an expectation that for a comic book movie to earn awards recognition that it must break the mold and Deadpool didn't do that.
Just consider how Christopher Nolan's superb Batman film, The Dark Knight, wasn't nominated for a Best Motion Picture Golden Globe. Yes, it would have been in the super stacked category of Drama in 2009 (too bad it wasn't a comedy since it could have bumped Mamma Mia! out of its bewildering spot), but that is the caliber of superhero movie that is worthy of awards beyond just Heath Ledger's acting award. If the successful Deadpool can be nominated as a comedy, why wasn't Guardians of the Galaxy recognized by the Globes? Or even Iron Man?
Deadpool's nomination seems like a sign of the times — that good movies are hard to come by these days, so even relatively good ones will be recognized. It's also not out of character for the Globes to have nominated it since they have more flexibility in the comedy-based films they can acknowledge than the Oscars do and they have recognized far less deserving films before. (I repeat: Mamma Mia! was nominated in the not-so-distant past.) However, for this awards snob, I'm saddened by the state of the movie industry. And that's not Deadpool's fault, nor should I take it out on Deadpool by undermining how good of a movie it is. Yet, I think movie lovers should demand great — not good — films so that even the frothy Golden Globes have higher-quality movies to recognize.
The bottom line is that it's really up to each viewer if they thought Deadpool was good (I doubt I'd be able to convince you either way anyway). To me, Deadpool is a good movie — mostly for the fact that it successfully entertains and amuses — and even though I wouldn't have deemed it worthy to be nominated for a major film award, enough of the HFPA did. If you love superhero films, then this could be the dawn of a new era for the genre — at least for the Golden Globes. If you specifically love Deadpool for mocking the genre, then you can be content in knowing others appreciated its edginess too. And if your movie-loving soul was crushed because Deadpool was nominated for a Golden Globe, don't worry — La La Land (a movie not without its flaws) is going to win the major award come the big night anyway. But no matter your personal opinion of the movie — good or bad — based on the history of the Golden Globes, Deadpool is certainly good enough for a nomination.