From the mind of Damien Chazelle comes Babylon, a roaring drama about 1920s Hollywood. With a cast of A-listers including Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt, this movie blends real people and fictional characters and details the era when the film industry was undergoing a real-world transition from silent to talkies.
Babylon had its world premiere in Los Angeles on December 15, 2022, and is scheduled to be released in the US on December 23, 2022. The film received generally positive reviews, with praise aimed at the cinematography, score, and performances. Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt and newcomer Diego Calva have already earned Golden Globe nominations for their roles in the movie.
So who else is in this epic tale of old Hollywood, and what is it about?
8/8 What Is Babylon About?
Babylon will celebrate the grandeur of the Golden Age and the “human cost” of the industry in its infancy.
In the film, Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt play Hollywood stars at very different stages of their careers. Nellie LaRoy (Robbie) and Mexican immigrant Manny Torres (Diego Calva) are newbies to the industry, filled with hopes and dreams. Jack Conrad (Pitt) is a silent film star hero who is towards the end of his career, perhaps having enjoyed the parties a little bit too much.
Tobey Maguire, who is also one of the film’s executive producers, will play a fictional character named James McKay that some viewers have described as a Charlie Chaplin type. Jean Smart will play a formidable film critic and Hollywood journalist called Elinor St. John.
Chazelle has hinted that ambition will be a running theme throughout the film alongside the hedonism of the parties. “It was really a wild West period for these people, this gallery of characters, as they rise and fall, rise, fall, rise again, fall again,” he said.
Damien Chazelle told Vanity Fair that Babylon was inspired by this idea of change and how it would impact the people involved. “Everything is shifting underneath people’s feet and I became really fascinated by the human cost of disruption at that magnitude, at a time when there was no road map, when everything was just new and wild,” he said.
7/8 Who Directed Babylon?
Babylon was directed by Damien Chazelle who has three successful movies under his belt, despite only being 37.
Chazelle’s breakthrough film was 2014’s Whiplash which landed him five Academy Award nominations and three wins, including Best Supporting Actor for J.K. Simmons. He is the youngest Best Director winner, earning the accolade at just 32.
He followed up with, La La Land which grossed $447.4 million worldwide from a $30 million budget. The film went on to earn 14 Oscar nominations, which tied it with Titanic and All About Eve for most nominations for a film. He won Best Director at the ceremony and Emma Stone earned the Best Actress gong.
Chazelle’s next film, First Man, a biopic on Neil Armstrong, was well-received but didn’t earn the same numbers at the box office as his previous film.
Chazelle told Vanity Fair that Babylon is his most ambitious project yet: “It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve done. Just the logistics of it, the number of characters, the scale of the set pieces, the span of time that the movie charts—it all conspired to make it particularly challenging, but it was a challenge that was pretty exciting to take on.”
6/8 Who Stars In Babylon?
Babylon has a stacked cast of A-listers. Brad Pitt plays Jack Conrad, a fading silent movie star who is based on the real-life John Gilbert. He will be joined by Margot Robbie and newcomer Diego Calva, who you may have seen in the third and final season of the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico.
Other stars of Babylon include Quantico star Li Jun Li as Lady Fay Zhu, Emmy Nominee Jovan Adepo, Hacks actress Jean Smart, Tobey Maguire and The Handmaid’s Tale actor Max Minghella who will play real-life film producer Irving Thalberg.
The cast is completed by Samara Weaving, Katherine Waterston, Olivia Wilde, Flea, Jeff Garlin, Spike Jonze, Chloe Fineman, Lukas Haas, Eric Roberts, Phoebe Tonkin, Troy Metcalf, and Telvin Griffin.
5/8 What Do Critics Think Of Babylon?
The reviews of Babylon are very mixed, with many movie reviewers responding negatively to the period drama.
Some critics have branded the movie “a bit messy,” “an ambitious mess,” and even “a flaming hot mess”. Many reviews praise the actors but suggest the script is not worthy of their talents. Other reviews have criticized the length of the movie and there is a general consensus that the third act is poor.
Destiny Jackson said: “Equal parts decadent, deviant and delirious… Babylon is an entertaining and sprawling epic about the highs and lows of the golden age of Hollywood.”
“Margot Robbie tries, but the script fails her. A love letter to cinema that made me hate cinema,” Scott Menzel described.
Film producer Perri Nemiroff said: “Babylon has some incredibly strong sequences — especially the ones focused on Margot Robbie’s character — but overall lacked focus and couldn’t support so many key characters.
4/8 Who Made The Soundtrack For Babylon?
Music plays a huge role in Chazelle’s films. Justin Hurwitz, a frequent collaborator of the Whiplash director, composed the film’s score.
Two tracks from the score, Call Me Manny and Voodoo Mama, were released digitally on November 10, 2022, the latter track being used to underscore the film’s first trailer.
“It was probably the most entertaining script I’ve ever read. But I was also like holy s***, there’s gonna be a lot of music in this movie,” Hurwitz told Gold Derby. He also revealed her spent three years making the music for the movie.
The soundtrack album to Babylon was released by Interscope Records on December 9, 2022.
3/8 Is There A Trailer For Babylon?
The first official trailer for Babylon was released on September 12, 2022, a day after premiering at an event at the Toronto International Film Festival. The trailer shows all the hedonistic parties and the true cost of fame in old Hollywood.
2/8 Will Babylon Be Oscar Nominated?
Damien Chazelle tends to be a hit with the award-voting audience, with three of his movies being Oscar-nominated. He has directed two actors to Academy Awards.
Babylon was an early contender for the yet-to-be-announced Academy Awards, with many finding it impossible to imagine a movie with this director and cast not make a wave next year.
Diego Calva, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Jean Smart are contenders for acting awards. Babylon received five nominations at the 80th Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and nine nominations at the 28th Critics’ Choice Awards, including Best Picture.
We will find out when the Academy Award nominations are announced on March 12.
1/8 When is the release date for Babylon?
Babylon was released in select theaters in the US on Christmas Day 2022, before expanding nationwide on 6 January 2023.