'Ford v Ferrari' is a strong Oscar contender that will turn even the most casual viewers into racing fans

Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox‘Ford v Ferrari’ will convert even the most casual of viewers into fans of car racing by its end.
  • Warning: There are minor spoilers ahead for “Ford v Ferrari.
  • Director James Mangold (“Logan,” “Walk the Line”) delivers an Oscar-worthy film with “Ford v Ferrari.”
  • If you’re a fan of Christian Bale or Matt Damon, you’ll want to see it for their on-screen chemistry as racers Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles.
  • It’s also worth a watch for its high-octane races done with real race cars. Mangold said of the thousands of shots in the film, only about two include a digital car.
  • You feel like you’re right in the driver’s seat with Miles as he tries to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966, and it often makes for a heart-racing watch.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Director James Mangold has done it again. “Ford v Ferrari” is a likely Oscar contender not only for the performances of Matt Damon and Christian Bale, but also the execution of its heart-stopping races.

Damon and Bale star as racers Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles who team up with Ford to build a race car that will beat Ferrari at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race. The catch? They only have 90 days to make it happen.

Through setbacks and pushback from Ford executives, Shelby and Miles achieve the impossible. By the film’s end, you’ll have an appreciation for the sport even if you knew nothing about it at the start.

Why you should care: This is another hit from director James Mangold and the cinematography of the races. This is Disney’s shot at some real Oscar gold this year because of Christian Bale and Matt Damon.

Ken miles christian bale movie20th Century Fox, Bob D’Olivo/The Enthusiast Network via Getty Images/Getty ImagesChristian Bale versus the real life Ken Miles in 1966.

If you don’t recognise Mangold by name, he’s worked on a lot of Oscar-nominated and winning movies you know, including “Girl, Interrupted,” “Walk the Line,” and even Hugh Jackman’s final turn as Wolverine in “Logan.”

The film is based on the true story of Henry Ford II going to war with Ferrari after a failed attempt by Ford to buy the foreign company. The film does an excellent job of transforming Tracy Letts into Ford and of making Bale look and sound like a convincing Ken Miles. Bale said he met with Miles’ son to make sure he captured him correctly. Damon plays an equally convincing Shelby.

After acquiring 20th Century Fox and dealing with a few tough box-office losses (notably “Dark Phoenix”), “Ford v Ferrari” offers the studio a chance to be an awards contender.

What’s hot: Christian Bale and Matt Damon’s camaraderie on screen and the three high-octane, heart-stopping races.

Ford v ferrari 20th Century FoxYou feel like you’re behind the wheel with Ken Miles during each of his races.

From the moment the film starts, it does an excellent job of foreshadowing what’s to come late in the film. It’s something Mangold achieves so effectively that he has you anxious on the edge of your seat any time a race occurs.

If you’re not familiar with the true story the movie’s based on, your heart will be beating in your chest during every race, worried something will go wrong.

Ford v ferrari race20th Century FoxThere are only about two CGI moments in ‘Ford v Ferrari’ during the race scenes.

The races themselves are gorgeous and should undoubtedly help the film get some Oscar nods for cinematography. According to an interview with our sister site Business Insider, Mangold said there are only two CGI moments in all of the races (not counting the crowds).

The intense moments don’t only occur on the racetrack. A moment between Ken and his wife (Caitriona Balfe) will have you in knots as she races dangerously down a highway as they have a heated argument.

There are also some genuinely funny bits and lines to lighten up the mood. The best occurs during an all-out brawl between Bale and Damon involving a trash can lid and sliced white bread, which looks like it was quite a fun time on set.

Christian bale matt damon fight ford v ferrari20th Century FoxOne of the most enjoyable moments of ‘Ford v Ferrari’ occurs during a street fight between Bale and Damon’s characters.

Shelby taking Henry Ford II for a spin in their race car –a scene teased in trailers – is another one of the film’s funniest moments as the head of the company is reduced to tears.

Ford v ferrari matt damon car ford II scene20th Century FoxOne of the film’s most enjoyable moments between Shelby and Ford II is teased in the trailers, seen above.

Some of the most interesting parts of the film aren’t even about the competition between Ford and Ferrari. It’s really about Ford v Ford. An internal feud constantly brews behind the scenes between Shelby and the Ford marketing executives over how to make the perfect racing car.

Shelby constantly faces an uphill battle from Ford marketing executive, Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas), who tries to control Shelby and his car experts in order to make sure things are done the “Ford” way. Beyond the racing and car feuds, the relationship between Miles and his young son is at the heart of the film and will pull at your heartstrings.

Christian bale ken miles son ford v ferrari20th Century FoxKen Miles tells his son about the perfect lap and the relationship between a racer and his car.

What’s not: Not much, though the film could have used more of Jon Bernthal as Ford exec Lee Iacocca.

Jon bernthal ford v ferrari20th Century Fox‘Ford v Ferrari’ could have used a little more of Bernthal.

There’s not a lot of negative things to say about “Ford v Ferarri.” None of its lengthy runtime of two-and-a-half-hours slogs.

Most surprising is that the film didn’t showcase more of Bernthal (“Punisher”). Early in the film, he receives one of the tensest (and funniest) moments with the Ferrari CEO as Ford considers purchasing the company. Once Beebe comes onto the scene, Bernthal takes a bit of a backseat.

It’s a shame to see Bernthal’s talents squandered in the latter half of the film to little more than looks and stares.

Overall: See this for Bale and Damon’s excellent performances along with the beautifully shot races.

Ford v ferrari christian bale matt damon 20th Century FoxBale and Damon play best friends Miles and Shelby in ‘Ford v Ferrari.’

“Ford v Ferrari” showcases a story of friendship and the lengths one will go for someone they believe in. The film’s cruel finish will stay with you long after it ends.

Even if you’re not into racing, you’ll enjoy this for Miles’ style of racing once he’s behind the wheel. It may even convert you into a racing fan by its end. At the least, it will have you searching for the true story of the 1966 24 hour Le Mans race.

Expect a lot of buzz for this film come Oscar season.

Grade: A

“Ford v Ferrari” is in theatres on Friday, November 15. Watch a trailer for it below.

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