Ford v Ferrari

Matt Damon and Christian Bale on the set of ‘Ford v Ferrari.’

In 1966, “Grand Prix” had James Garner as the star and won three Oscars. Other memorable racing films include Steve McQueen in “Le Mans” and Tom Cruise in “Days of Thunder.” “Ford v Ferrari” ranks with the best of them.

Let me get this right out there. Christian Bale should get a nomination for best actor. Matt Damon should get one for the best supporting actor. OK then.

As well as the actors performed in “Ford v Ferrari,” the director takes the pole position. The race scenes have more intensity than any of the aforementioned films. We sit right in the driver’s seat, swaying with each of the deadly turns at Le Mans, the famous French race course.

We have a real feeling for just how fragile highly stressed race cars are. We get to see a few disintegrate before our eyes. We thrill to see the action from the safety of the theater seats.

Director James Mangold has made a long string of famous films. His Oscar nomination came with “Logan” for writing. He directed the comic “Knight and Day,” the heroic “3:10 to Yuma” and the wonderful biopic “Walk the Line.” We must count him as one of the great living directors.

Only a few men have the skill, courage and judgment to race at the international level. Ford, for reasons of branding, prestige and frankly for simple pig-headed pride, set out to make their nameplate famous for more than producing serviceable family cars. Thanks to driver Ken Miles (Bale) and epic car designer Carroll Shelby (Damon), Ford fulfilled the mission. Ford took first place at Le Mans four years in a row, indelibly imprinting the brand on the race car world.

Also worth mentioning on the acting side, we have Jon Bernthal as a young Lee Iaccoca and Ray McKinnon. Irish born Caitriona Balfe plays Mr. Miles with admirable verve. Tracy Letts makes Henry Ford II into a force of nature, a power not to trifle with.

“Ford v Ferrari” gets a blazing fast four sawblades. The PG-13 film runs an extra long two hours and 32 minutes.

I admit to a poor record as a predictor but I think Bale and Damon will both get Oscar nominations as will Mangold for best director. It should also be nominated for best picture. “Ford v Ferrari” reminds us of why we love the movies.

Race driver Ken Miles had a grade school age son who has a part in the film.

The actual Peter Miles helped the movie guys get the details of his dad’s life straight. I admire that.

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