Weinstein Co. has a full slate this year:
“Carol.” This is a strong contender on many fronts. Most likely are its two leads. Rooney Mara shared the Cannes Best Actress jury award, which will help her going forward and lends support for a Best Actress slot along with Cate Blanchett. Mara was nominated once in that category for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” while Blanchett has scored six nominations and two wins, most recently for Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.”
The lesbian romance should continue to fare well with critics, who will provide a needed boost as the film tries to connect with audiences through the fall festival circuit and its December 18 opening. We root for the well-heeled older suburban housewife (Blanchett) and the younger shopgirl (Mara) to find ways to express their love within the constraints of early Fifties society. But Haynes often tends toward the stately and formal; this is not a sentimental emotive weepie.
The movie is gorgeously wrought. The Guilds and Academy voters should recognize the production design, cinematography, costumes and score, as well as Phyllis Nagy’s adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel. Depending on the year-end competition, this could go all the way to Picture and Director as well.
“Southpaw.” At his annual Cannes presentation, Weinstein promised that his company would deliver an Oscar nomination for Jake Gyllenhaal for his dramatic role as a troubled, muscle-packed fighter in Antoine Fuqua’s “Southpaw.” He explained that the festival offered the movie an official slot, but they withdrew “Southpaw” in order to let Gyllenhaal participate on the Competition jury. He promised to show the film, and his people invited press to a Tuesday night market screening, which was canceled in favor of a later glittery yacht showing attended by Gyllenhaal and celebrities in Cannes, but no press. So what does this all suggest? Critics and audiences have yet to see the film, which opens in July.
“Tulip Fever” was the footage that popped at the TWC show-and-tell. The Amsterdam period romance based on the bestseller leans heavily on blossoming star Alicia Vikander (“Royal Affair, “Anna Karenina,” “Ex Machina”), who was on hand. In the film she’s married to older man Christoph Waltz; when a young painter (Dane DeHaan) comes to do a portrait, an affair inevitably ensues. The movie, which also stars Dame Judi Dench as a nun, will likely be introduced at Venice, Telluride, Toronto or New York ahead of its November release.
Warner Bros. launched non-stop action adventure “Mad Max: Fury Road” at Cannes to effusive, exuberant praise for one of the best-made movies of the year. The Academy will ignore its violent pedigree and recognize the moviemaking skills of director George Miller and his technical team, from D.P. John Seale to the sets, costumes, visual effects, makeup, editing, sound and score. Think “Avatar,” “Life of Pi,” “Gravity” or “The Lord of the Rings.”
This year Disney/Pixar’s animated family comedy “Inside Out” could break out of the animated Oscar ghetto for the first time since “Toy Story 3” in 2010 and Pete Docter’s 2009 Cannes debut “Up.” Reviews are through the roof for this original movie, and on June 19, boffo box office should follow.
Now that “Dheepan,” Jacques Audiard’s beautifully crafted emigre story about a young Tamil family trying to rebuild a life in France, has won the Palme d’Or, France may decide to submit the film for Oscar consideration, but it will face heavy competition in a strong year for French dramas. IFC’s Sundance Selects will likely send the film to the fall festivals.
Denis Villeneuve’s Mexican border actioner “Sicario,” starring Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin, played well at Cannes but is too much of a routine thriller to rise to the level of Oscar consideration. Lionsgate will release the film in September.