This next installment in the 12 for '12 Oscar Watch series, the article features three period pieces that are sure to garner a lot of Oscar attention. All three could be considered as biopics of various figures from history; however, two of the three do not look as strong as the other.
The second post in the series featured two heavy-hitters in the Oscar race, Moneyball and The Ides of March. The other film in the post, The Rum Diary, could be considered a dark horse in the race, as well.
Well... add one more to the Oscar race, and two more dark horses.
|Should Brad Pitt and Moneyball be concerned|
with the following...?
A Dangerous Method
Director: David Cronenberg (A History of Violence, Eastern Promises)
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightly
Reasons It’s a Contender: Cronenberg is due for an Oscar win… Violence and Promises are both excellent, underrated films, both starring Mortensen. Once again, Cronenberg teams up with
Viggo and Peter Suschitzky, who was Cronenberg’s cinematographer in Easter Promises, in this period piece
about two of the greatest philosophical/analytical/psychological minds of the
20th Century. Mortensen portrays Sigmund Freud, who is battling the
wits of his apprentice, Carl Jung, played by Fassbender. Fassbender burst onto
the scene playing Erik “Magneto” Lensherr in X-Men: First Class, in which he was one of the few bright spots.
The acting chops of Mortensen and Fassbender, along with the psychological
material that Cronenberg has to work with, should be an Oscar lock. It also
helps to have screenwriter, Christopher Hampton, on board with this ambitious
project. Hampton not only wrote the play, The
Talking Cure, of which Method is
based upon, but he is probably best known for being nominated for his writing
work for Atonenment, another
beautifully presented period piece. So… Cronenberg + Mortensen + Fassbender +
Suschuitzky = Potential Oscar Boom.
Reasons It’s a Pretender: Well, Cronenberg’s films have been snubbed in the past… While Method should be a sure to attain an Oscar nomination or four, it faces stiff competition from other contenders. Other than that… I can’t really see any real flaws in A Dangerous Method, other than Keira Knightley… (that being said, Knightley was fantastic in Atonement, and playing mentally unstable people are usually Oscar bait…) The source material may be a little too dark, as I would assume it examines the darkness and carnal nature of humanity (mainly… “man”). However, that could also be very attractive to Oscar voters. Overall, A Dangerous Method should be one to watch out for come the award circuits.
Release Date: 23 November 2011
Director: Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, Gran Torino, Invictus, Hereafter)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Judie Dench, and Naomi Watts
Reasons It’s a Contender: One of the most controversial figures in United States history finally gets his much anticipated biopic. It also helps that said figure is played by one of the top actors in Hollywood. DiCaprio under Eastwood’s direction should garner plenty of Oscar attention. Look for Hammer (The Social Network) to share some of that limelight with Eastwood and DiCaprio. Even though Eastwood denies it, J. Edgard could very well deal heavily with the allegations that Hoover was a closeted homosexual. While it may not go as far as having DiCaprio cross-dress, the script is written by Dustin Lance Black, who also wrote the script for Milk, which dealt with the openly gay politician, Harvey Milk, so I would have to suspect that Hoover’s sexuality will be incorporated into the film. Judi Dench also lends a hand as Hoover’s mother.
Reasons It’s a Pretender: Recent Eastwood works have been unfortunately snubbed at various award shows, and J. Edgar could follow suit. While DiCaprio is a phenomenal actor, I’m not really buying into his New Englander accent… And it seems that he’s incorporating his Dom Cobb character into his Hoover character… The makeup for the elder Hoover scenes also looks less-than-convincing. While J. Edgar should grab some Oscar attention, it may not have enough to separate itself from an already crowded award show race.
Release Date: 14 December 2011
The Iron Lady
Director: Phyllida Lloyd (Macbeth, Mamma Mia!)
Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent
Reasons It’s a Contender: Meryl Streep playing, well, anyone will be enough to grab Oscar headlines. Streep performing as the polarizing British politician, Margaret Thatcher, will definitely garner some Oscar attention. Let’s think of another period biopic that was on a British politician… Oh yeah, The King’s Speech. That one film that swept Oscar voters off their feet, and won huge. Coincidently, The Weinstein Company is distributing Iron Lady, as it did with The King’s Speech. While Speech was helped by Firth’s excellent performance, Streep isn’t what you would consider an acting slouch.
Reasons It’s a Pretender: Well, after the distributor, top actors, and their British-ness, the comparisons between The King’s Speech and Iron Lady end quite abruptly. Lloyd is no Tom Hooper, and as much as I appreciate Broadbent, he is no Geoffrey Rush. While The King’s Speech burst onto the scene with a standing ovation at the Toronto Film Festival, Iron Lady is already receiving some flak from Thatcher’s family. The portrayal of Thatcher in frail health will also be interesting, as reactions will probably be negative. Oh, and Streep isn’t British. What…? Sure she’s a fantastic worldwide name, but c’mon. Really? But she’s won award in Britain! Okay, fine. But for a film that needs to be as authentic and as evocative as possible (Oscar ingredients…), having a British actress playing a British PM would have been preferred. All-in-all, Iron Lady will probably help Streep receive her 16th Oscar nomination, and possibly even win her 3rd Oscar trophy. However, I cannot see The Iron Lady going in the same direction as last year’s big British (and Oscar) winner, The King’s Speech.
Release Date: 16 December 2011
|Still the favorite...|
While I still have Moneyball and The Ides of March as my front-runners, A Dangerous Method should make some noise in that race. J. Edgar and The Iron Lady just don't seem to have the same potential as those three films. While they will make some noise, it will probably quickly fade into the background, leaving Moneyball, The Ides of March, and A Dangerous Method the films in the foreground.
Fish Fingers and Custer.