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Weinstein Co. Awards Plans Come Into Focus: What Are Their Oscar Frontrunners?

Weinstein Co. Awards Plans Come Into Focus: What Are Their Oscar Frontrunners?

Dating a film says a lot about a distributor’s plans. So the later the film comes out–in the thick of the most congested season of the year– the more willing the company is to step up and promote. It means they have skin in the Oscar game. There’s no other reason to put out a limited-release movie in that time frame.

Every year, Hollywood looks to the Weinstein Co. to put several awards-season players in the race. A wide release (such as Dimension’s "Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," set for August 22, and Christmas opener "Paddington Bear") bespeaks less confidence in award-season play, which usually involves sticking around in theaters for a while.

At Cannes this May, Harvey Weinstein hosted his usual dog and pony show at the Hotel Majestic to promote his upcoming slate. There was plenty to savor. But it was hard to tell which of these high-strutters had the right stuff to go all the way. 

Check out the TWC release slate for fall 2014, below.

The company released French designer biopic "Yves Saint Laurent" to little fanfare on June 25 (Metacritic score: 50). That’s unlikely to resurface on critics’ ten-best lists or be the French Oscar submission. 

Their lineup includes a quartet of premieres from last year’s Toronto Film Festival that were not deemed ready for 2013 prime time. John Carney’s "Begin Again," starring Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley, while a commercial and critical success, seems unlikely to yield any Oscar fruit outside the original song category. That’s one reason why the company put it out on June 27. True story "One Chance," starring Brit theater star James Corden as a Welsh miner turned opera-singer, earned so-so reviews at TIFF and opens August 29.

TWC’s most likely awards contenders are opening in September and beyond. John Curran’s well-reviewed true desert trek "Tracks," starring the incandescent Mia Wasikowska, is set for September 19. She has a Best Actress shot. So far the combined single film version of Ned Benson romance "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her," starring respected actors James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain (limited September 26), earned strong reviews out of Cannes. Critics will need to be rapturous going forward. 

Not getting a festival berth is veteran Philip Noyce’s "The Giver," slated for release on August 15th, based on Lois Lowry’s bestselling 1983 young adult classic, which inspired such follow-ups as "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent." This time, grey-haired Meryl Streep (resembling long-tressed Holly Hunter in "Top of the Lake") is in the Kate Winslet Fascist leader role and Jeff Bridges plays an older wise man much like the one he played in "Tron: Legacy." Brenton Thwaite ("Maleficent"), Alexander Skarsgard and Katie Holmes co-star.  While Noyce could pull off a winner–reviews will tell the tale–this may prove too genre-oriented for the Academy. (My Comic-Con coverage here.)

The fact that broad comedy "St Vincent," starring Bill Murray, Naomi Watts and Melissa McCarthy, is going wide on October 24 reveals more confidence in its commercial than awards chances. It’s not likely to hang around.

The last two films on the TWC docket are what they consider to be their strongest awards performers. Benedict Cumberbatch-starrer "The Imitation Game," Morten Tyldum’s World War II nail-biter about decoder Alan Turing that co-stars Knightley, has been booked on the fall festival circuit, including Toronto and London (it’s the opener). TWC plunked down a hefty advance of $7 million out of the Berlin market last February. So they’re looking to get some of that back. Time for Cumberbatch to land his first Oscar nomination? 

Last out of the box on Christmas Day is Tim Burton’s "Big Eyes," a colorful 50s biopic, written by Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander, and starring two Oscar perennials, Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams. He plays a sexist credit grabber who refuses to admit that his wife (Adams) created the signature "Keane" paintings. This looks like a return to idiosyncratic indie form for Burton, and never count out Waltz and Adams, but this needs to be seen to be appreciated. TWC can decide which route to take depending on how the film turns out–they can go commercial with it and open it wider, or stick it out in limited release if they get strong reviews through the height of awards campaigning. 

Notably missing from the 2014 slate is Justin Kurzel’s moody Shakespeare drama "Macbeth" starring Michael Fassbender in the title role as the future King of Scotland. Marion Cotillard plays Lady Macbeth. The film is currently set for 2015, along with four other high-profile films that are still in production–or in the editing room.

That includes Olivier Dahan’s Cannes opener "Grace of Monaco," starring Nicole Kidman as the Hollywood princess. Right before Cannes Harvey Weinstein closed a deal to release the movie at a reduced fee. He and Dahan are working together on a new cut–a release date is not yet set. One objective of the North American edit would be to placate Monaco’s royal family the Grimaldis, who were not pleased with the Cannes version.

Still in production are Simon Curtis’s true story "Woman in Gold," about Jewish WWII survivor Maria Altmann’s rescue of a Gustav Klimt painting stolen during the war, starring Helen Mirren as Altmann, Ryan Reynolds as a Jewish restitution lawyer, and Daniel Bruhl as his opponent. Also in the production stage is Antoine Fuqua’s promising fighter flick "Southpaw" starring Jake Gyllenhaal in awesome physical condition, and World War II heart-tugger "Suite Francaise," based on the novel by Irène Némirovsky, starring Weinstein regular Michelle Williams, Kristin Scott-Thomas and Sam Riley.

Never expect Weinstein to hang onto this schedule, however. If any one of these movies arrives in an award-worthy state, all bets are off. 

YVES SAINT LAURENT – 6/25/14 Limited
BEGIN AGAIN – 6/27/14 Exclusive, 7/2/14 Limited, 7/11/14 Expansions
THE GIVER – 8/15/14 Wide
ONE CHANCE – 8/29/14 Limited
TRACKS – 9/19/14 Limited
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY – 9/26/14, Limited
ST VINCENT – 10/24/14 Wide
THE IMITATION GAME – 11/21/14
BIG EYES – 12/25/14, Moderate

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Comments

Carlos

Mia, Mia, Mia. What a TALENT.

Pat

What do think about 'The Immigrant'?

newyorker

out of alot of the weinstein films, the ones i know have more of a chance for oscar love are
Begin Again & One Chane(mostly the original song categlory)
Yves Saint Laurent(best foreign language film)
Eleanor Rigby
The Imitation Game
Macbeth
Big Eyes

Mark

I hope the Weinstein Company's Oscar push includes at least a Best Supporting Actress slot for the great Tilda Swinton for her insanely good performance as Mason in "Snowpiercer". She absolutely deserves to be one of the five, I think.

Doctor R.

So give Mia Wasikowska an Oscar already. She deserved one for Jane Eyre.

emma

Macbeth is the only movie I want to see from this list. Fassbender and Cotillard, such an epic couple on screen!

Suzanne

I love Michael Fassbender so I'm really looking forward to "Macbeth", I was disappointed in "The Councelor". I've seen "Tracks" and it's a fantastic performance. Mia Wasikowska certainly deserves a nomination for brilliantly pulling off such a challenging role. I hope Weinstein doesn't hold "Macbeth" too long and he really should push "Tracks", for direction and cinematography, too. Come to think of it, Adam Driver might also be best supporting actor material in that film. It is a wonderful movie.

annie

Ms.Thompson

are you aware of what the new regime for Focus has in store for Kill The Messenger, outside of the platform release. thank you

I would expect Harvey to really push The Imitation Game in Best Picture/Best Actor categories

Dede

I need to see Macbeth…STAT. I want quality so I'm willing to wait. I hope Harvey doesn't tamper with it. Stay in your lane Harvey.

Gautam

Don't count out St. Vincent so early, Anne. It has couple of very good performances — Watts and Murray — and Original Screenplay too is a very strong possibility.

PG

I've heard whispers that Tracks was pushed back from its September release date because of Wild. I sure as hell hope this is not true; I've waited so long enough to see it.

Anne Thompson

I still haven't seen The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, to my dismay. The footage of Macbeth I saw in Cannes LOOKED black-and-white, but it may have been a photo effect. I'll fix.

Harvey

I would've thought CAROL would be worth mentioning.

MACBETH is not in black and white.

KateM

Did you have a chance to see The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her while you were at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival? I think that if you had, then these films would be your WCs Oscar frontrunner instead of the safe bets that you named.

It's easy to speculate but it's too bad that when you had the chance to see DoER you didn't. TWC hasn't announced which film/films they are going to push only that he said they are doing it for DoER.

Haven't heard a word about any of the other films, could he be waiting for film festival reactions? Like you said, he could change any one of those release dates.

DoER also stars two exceptional actors, McAvoy and Chastain and has a supporting cast just as great. I would think that alone would get you excited for this, it has HW.

Noa

I'm still not convinced about Macbeth..

Kate

Suite Francaise was test screening ages ago, so I doubt it's still "in production".

Macbeth finished filming in April, so it was always a stretch that it would be released this year, especially since Shakespeare isn't really up AMPAS' street. And I'm pretty sure that it's not in black&white, even if the teaser was.

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