Academy Awards voting is in full swing, and EW’s Prize Fighter has spent the week asking folks with Oscar histories of their own to share their personal favorites of the year. Aaron Sorkin, who had an adapted screenplay nomination last year for co-writing Moneyball and won in the category for The Social Network, wrote us on behalf of Promised Land, a drama about a rural town that is considering selling its natural gas rights, though there may be an unseen risk to the reward.
Somewhere along the line, someone in the next few weeks is going to tell you that Promised Land, a perfect film from Matt Damon, John Krasinski and Gus Van Sant, is about fracking. They won’t be entirely wrong, but Promised Land is only about fracking if Jaws is about fishing.
Yes, you’ll know more about how we drill for natural gas than you did before you went into the theater but no one should stay away out of fear the movie is going to ask you to eat your vegetables.
In fact, Promised Land, which was just named one of the 10 best films of the year by the National Board of Review, is so deft in its storytelling that it also manages to dramatize one of the more compelling ANTI-environmental messages you’re likely to see.
Forget you just read the words “environment” and “message” — you’ll be completely taken in by the con game, the humor, the stakes, the absence of easy answers and the typically detailed, subtle and charismatic performances of Damon, Krasinski, Frances McDormand, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Hal Holbrook.
So when someone tells you Promised Land is about fracking, pretend they said whatever your favorite film genre is and trust that the director of Good Will Hunting, To Die For, and Milk is never, for a frame, going to stop telling you a good story so he can slip you some spinach.
— Aaron Sorkin
Promised Land, written by Damon and Krasinski with a story by Dave Eggers, opens on Dec. 28. It also won the Freedom of Expression award from the National Board of Review.
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