Are early Oscar prognosticators usually talking out of their asses? Yes and no. It’s certainly far too early, and admittedly somewhat amusing, to be predicting a film’s chances without having seen one strip of celluloid. But sometimes you can safely make educated guesses (you can see how well we’ve done so far with our Premature Oscar Predictions here and even peruse previous years where we’ve been fairly on the mark). So if you like to laugh at early predictions that ended up wildly wrong, one can’t blame you, but trust us when we say English actor Jack O’Connell is the real fucking deal. He’s blown us away twice in 2014, once via the prison drama “Starred Up” (read our review here), and again with “‘71,” a thriller set during the Irish Troubles of the 1970s. We saw the film in Berlin earlier this year, it made waves once again at Telluride and Toronto, and will be shown at the upcoming New York Film Festival. Most major film festivals would rather not show movies that have screened at competing fests, but “‘71” is becoming the exception to the rule.
This is to say that if you’ve seen O’Connell predicted to be an Oscar contender for Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken” (and yes, we made that bet), don’t laugh. The movie is going to get a big Oscar push in December from Universal, and O’Connell is so damn good in everything we’ve seen him in, we can safely say his name will be in the mix.
Set in the mean streets of Belfast over the course of 24 hours, “’71” is a riveting thriller that brings the grim reality of the Troubles —the ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland in the ‘70s— to vivid, shocking life. O’Connell is fantastic therein, but as our reviewer in Berlin wrote, “‘71’ is more than just a performance showcase, delivering a gripping, at times almost unbearably tense and incredibly involving anti-war statement, made the stronger for being set against the less cinematically familiar backdrop of Belfast in the year 1971.”
Directed by Yann Demange (who we placed on our 2014 directors to watch list specifically due to this film), “’71” co-stars Sam Reid and Sean Harris among others.While Roadside Attractions will be releasing the movie in the first quarter of 2015, the UK will naturally get a wide release first. The movie opens on October 10th and will also be screened as part of the 2014 London Film Festival. Watch two clips from the film below, along with some new photos. We’ve posted the trailer, and if this movie isn’t on your radar yet, it should be.