Back in April, Sony Pictures Classics snagged worldwide rights to “I Saw the Light,” writer/director Marc Abraham’s biopic of country western singer Hank Williams, whose life was destroyed by fame. Now SPC has dated the movie for prime time on November 27 for Thanksgiving weekend. This means that Michael Barker and Tom Bernard are adding Tom Hiddleston, who has never been nominated for an Oscar, to their burgeoning awards campaigns.
That will not include Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man.” While Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone are entertaining, the all-too familiar romantic comedy scored middling reviews out of Cannes. Sure to be high on critics’ ten-bests and rewarded by awards groups, however, is Cannes Grand Jury Prize winner “Son of Saul,” which has already been submitted for the Oscar by Hungary.
Other awards possibilities include rising Swedish star Alicia Vikander, who carries intense World War I drama “Testament of Youth” (which played well for the Academy last weekend), Lily Tomlin as “Grandma,” which although it has earned strong reviews out of Sundance and LAFF, still carries the comedy stigma, as does Sundance and New Directors/New Films breakout “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” from writer-director Marielle Heller (my interview here); critics love it but audiences will have to embrace the film at the box office more warmly than, say, “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.” Star Bel Powley and supporting actors Kristin Wiig and Alexander Skarsgaard are all awards candidates.
Sony also plans to push Robert Redford as Dan Rather in James Vanderbilt’s controversial network news drama “Truth,” the story of CBS producer Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) and broadcaster Dan Rather’s wade through the George W. Bush war-record scandal (based on Mapes’ own book). Stay tuned. SPC just scored back-to-back Best Actress wins for Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) and Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”) –so never count them out.
More and more in recent years, dramatic biopics are often soft lobs for the Academy, especially the actors’ branch, from Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe to winners Philip Seymour Hoffman (Truman Capote), Robert De Niro (Jake LaMotta) Sissy Spacek (Loretta Lynn), Charlize Theron (Aileen Wuornos), Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich), Marion Cotillard (Edith Piaf) and Meryl Streep (Margaret Thatcher).
Could Hiddleston as Hank Williams be next? The country crooner died in 1953 but left behind a legacy of songs including “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Cold Cold Heart,” “Lovesick Blues” and, of course, “I Saw the Light” (below). Based on Colin Escott’s award-winning biography, the film stars Tom Hiddleston as Williams, along with Elizabeth Olsen, Bradley Whitford, David Krumholtz and Cherry Jones.
RatPac Entertainment’s Brett Ratner and Bron Studios’ Aaron L. Gilbert produced the film, with G. Marq Roswell and Abraham. James Packer of RatPac Entertainment and Jason Cloth of Creative Wealth Media Finance executive produced. Dante Spinotti was the cinematographer.