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Oscars Check-In: 'Nightmare Alley,' The Best Pure Entertainment From This Year’s Nominees

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> Oscars Check-In: 'Nightmare Alley,' The Best Pure Entertainment From This Year’s Nominees

Director Guillermo del Toro scores his second Best Picture nominee in a row thanks to noir-ish thriller film Nightmare Alley. This adaptation of the 1946 novel of the same name explores the depths of showbiz, digging into human nature’s darkest corners. Aside from Best Picture, Nightmare Alley received nominations for the 94th Academy Awards for its production design, cinematography, and costume design.

Plot of ‘Nightmare Alley’

Stan Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) starts his journey to stardom at (almost) the bottom rung of a traveling circus, becoming more power-hungry and despicable as time goes on. Through his ups and downs, Stan takes advice from the hustlers and grifters of the carnival world, ultimately becoming one himself.

Cast of ‘Nightmare Alley’

  • Bradley Cooper - Stan Carlisle

  • Rooney Mara - Young Performer Molly Cahill

  • Willem Dafoe - Carnival Owner Clem Hoatley

  • Cate Blanchett - Psychologist Dr. Lilith Ritter

  • Toni Collette - Clairvoyant Zeena Krumbein

  • Richard Jenkins - Ezra Grindle

Is ‘Nightmare Alley’ Worth Watching?

Though not a perfect film, Nightmare Alley maintains a consistent vision under del Toro’s direction and co-writing. At two-and-a-half hours in length, there’s a lot of slow material to get through, but ultimately it’ll all be worth it for a hard-hitting ending. The resulting themes and characterization of the main character are exquisite, though the side characters are a bit lacking beyond their service to Stan’s development. Like all of del Toro’s movies, Nightmare Alley is a visually stunning and well-acted treat, thoughtfully constructed and enjoyable in the moment.

Where to Watch ‘Nightmare Alley’

Nightmare Alley is available at no extra cost on HBO Max and Hulu. It does not appear at this moment to be available for rental.

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