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Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Elle’ and Tom Ford’s ‘Nocturnal Animals’ Get Oscar-Friendly Release Dates

Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Elle’ and Tom Ford’s ‘Nocturnal Animals’ Get Oscar-Friendly Release Dates

Before Cannes, Sony Pictures Classics scooped up Paul Verhoeven’s provocative thriller “Elle,” starring Isabelle Huppert as a videogame entrepreneur who refuses to allow her violent rape in her own home to ruin her life.

Sony co-presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, with Cannes raves behind them, have booked “Elle” for November 11, smack in the middle of awards season. Will France submit Verhoeven’s first French-language film?
Maybe yes, maybe no. But it doesn’t matter. The movie is Verhoeven’s best in years and in any case, Huppert has a shot at a Best Actress Oscar nomination.

At 63, Huppert believably plays a younger woman in her sexual prime, bringing all her experience to bear on the role, which was adapted from a French novel by an American screenwriter (David Birke) and then translated back into French when Huppert came aboard. She elevates the character into almost making sense.

READ MORE: 16 Women Who Popped at Cannes

She doesn’t miss a beat. She doesn’t call the cops. She changes the locks, gets an STD test, buys pepper spray and learns how to use a gun. She’s a sophisticated, elegant, powerful, modern woman who lives alone, runs her own company, manipulates her family, has sex with whomever she fancies, and is free to do as she pleases.

Typically, Verhoeven refuses to supply psychological underpinnings for what she does. But Huppert makes us believe. With critics and awards-savvy SPC behind it, this commercial movie could wind up a North American hit this fall.

“Elle” will open a week ahead of Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals,” which Focus Features will release November 18. At $20 million, the project was the biggest acquisition of Cannes 2015.

Ford adapted the thriller from Austin Wright’s 1993 novel; it stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams, and it’s produced by George Clooney’s Smoke House Pictures. The film wrapped production last December; it’s expected to expand its release on November 23 and go wide December 9.

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