Mike Figgis’ “One Night Stand” has generated only a fraction of the kind of bound-for-Oscar buzz that his Oscar-winning AA yarn “Leaving Las Vegas” did two years ago. However, “Stand” may possibly benefit from the Oscar Screener Factor: The diaspora-like distribution of video cassettes to Academy members. Figgis’ intimately-drawn films tend to hold up quite well on video, and the erotic, late-night ambiance of much of “One Night Stand” may be just the under-the-covers attraction Academy voters are looking for.
Figgis’ movie deals in the kinds of real marriage issues that mature voters can relate to, plus the good will generated from the internationally acclaimed “Leaving Las Vegas,” can only help “Stand’s” chances of overcoming tepid b.o. and a less-than rapturous critical response.
Oscar loves a comeback, and Nastassia Kinski delivers with the movie’s strongest performance as the woman who unexpectedly steals Wesley Snipes’ heart. Kinski was left out of the noms for the Oscar-contending “Tess” and over the past two decades has alternated between ill-fated projects and under-appreciated turns in left-field efforts. Robert Downey Jr.’s colorful performance as an AIDS victim might have been— and might still be — a lock for an Oscar nomination for the one-two punch of flamboyance and deathbed victim. Downey Jr.’s troubled private life, of course, is the wild card here. Checking into the nearest penal institution just as the Oscar promo season kicks into high gear isn’t necessarily the easiest way to win Oscar hearts, but hey, the town has rallied to support mega-talented black sheep and theoretical Oscar underdogs from Woody Allen to Roman Polanski. It poses a vexing moral dilemma for the potential voter; should one warmly support the work of the artist or sternly reprimand the excesses of the drug abuser?
And whatever Figgis’ chances are in either direction or screenplay categories, his shot as composer of a silken, sexy jazz score may be good if the music branch wakes from its clubby slumber and notes the contribution of one of filmdom’s rare dual threat helmer-tunesters.
Classic Oscar credentials: 0 (Strictly bedroom drama)
Cause celebre: 4 (AIDS, homophobia and infidelity)
Vanity elements: 3 (Snipes’ clout)
The David vs. Goliath Syndrome: 5 (Stuck halfway between outsider status and studio glossiness)
The feel-good movie of the year: 3 (Only if one means it as “Was that as good for you as it was for me?”)
The unavoidable, inexorable buzz: 2 (Only as byproduct of Downey’s frontpage travails)
Idiot savants have more fun: 3 (Downey gets tragically, weepily sick)
Timing is everything: 4 (Opened late in the year)
OQ total: 24