UPDATED: Following the film’s gasp-inducing Australian premiere, “Unbroken” director Angelina Jolie is back in Los Angeles, finished filming “By the Sea” with Brad Pitt and ready for awards season (Pitt is a producer onboard “Selma,” picking up Oscar steam). “Unbroken” has started screening for critics but remains under embargo until December 2, at which point we will finally know whether it’s simply an Oscar-maybe, or genuine Academy Awards material.
And if both Jolie and “Selma” director Ava DuVernay land Best Picture and director nominations, that will break new Academy ground as well. “Selma” is screening well so far, and the Best Picture field is weaker than usual. “Gone Girl” and “Interstellar” are widely perceived as commercial hits more than artistic achievements, and the jury is out on two gorgeously visual achievements from Rob Marshall and Mike Leigh, “Into the Woods” and “Mr. Turner,” respectively. may settle for tech nods. There’s room for new entrants, in other words.
“Unbroken” won’t open in Australia, where the entire film was shot in the states of New South Wales and Queensland, until January 15, several weeks after the US release on December 25.
Jolie offers a moving tribute to Zamperini in Variety: “It’s not about ego, he didn’t want to be famous. He wanted to make sure his message was clear. It’s why he did speaking engagements, it’s why he did his book. It’s why he tried to get a movie made for 57 years. Everybody who reads this book and knows his life feels very connected to this man.”
Angelina and her hot young star Jack O’Connell also appear on the cover of Entertainment Weekly this week.
Universal Pictures, meanwhile, is also tapping into the veteran contingent for this film, spearheading the #IAmUnbroken campaign celebrating inspiring stories of “unbroken spirits.” More on that here. Universal knows one thing: in the awards race, leave no stone unturned.
EARLIER: Angelina Jolie opens up about her buzzy Louis Zamperini biopic “Unbroken,” while revealing that she’s not ruling out a possible political run someday.
“Unbroken” is Angelina Jolie’s third outing as a director, a chronicle of the life of Italian American Louis Zamperini (British Indie Film Award nominee Jack O’Connell), an Olympic runner and WWII airman turned war hero who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces.
In a new Vanity Fair cover story, Angelina Jolie offers the first extensive look at the making of “Unbroken,” during which she became close with Zamperini, who was able to see a cut of the film before he passed away in July 2014 at the age of 97.
“It was an extremely moving experience to watch someone watching their own life… someone so physically strong” Jolie says. “And they are at the stage where their body is giving up…yet we laughed together, and talked about his mom. And being a man of such faith, he talked about all the people he believed he would be seeing on the other side. And that it would bring him peace. After a life of fighting, he could rest.”
While a few Oscar predictors see Academy hopes in the film’s future, we won’t call it until we’ve seen it. Which we haven’t because “Unbroken” has evaded the festival circuit. (The film opens December 25, rivaling Ava DuVernay’s buzzed MLK biopic “Selma.”) “Unbroken” does show early potential to dominate the crafts awards, with naturalism maestro Roger Deakins and composer Alexandre Desplat aboard. The Coen Brothers, William Nicholson and Richard LaGravenese all had hands in the script, adapting the book by Lauren Hillenbrand.
Though she did enjoy the smash success “Maleficent” this year — breaking down a lot of barriers for women at the box office — Jolie appears to be favoring directing over acting. Yet the politically active actress also remains open to the idea of running for office: “When you work as a humanitarian, you are conscious that politics have to be considered…I am conscious of what I do for a living,” she tells Vanity Fair. When asked if she sees herself as a politician: “I am open.”
Watch the “Unbroken” trailer here. The full Vanity Fair issue arrives digitally tomorrow and on newsstands November 11.