It’s official: Christian Bale is set to shake up the Oscar race for Best Actor. Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures has landed U.S. distribution rights to “Hostiles,” the Bale-starring Western from “Black Mass” director Scott Cooper. The film was the rare title to premiere at Telluride without a distributor, and the strong reviews and Oscar buzz for Bale’s lead performances ignited a bidding war. Entertainment Studios will release the film in select theaters in December, before a nationwide rollout in January.
“Hostiles” marks a reunion between Bale and Cooper, who worked together on the drama “Out of the Furnace” in 2013. Bale plays an Army captain who agrees to help bring a dying Cheyenne war chief and his family back to their tribal lands in the year 1892. The two men are joined by a suicidal widow, played by Rosamund Pike, who is still grieving over the murder of her family by Comanche indians.
IndieWire’s David Ehrlich called “Hostiles” one of the most brutal westerns ever made in his Telluride review. Most critics singled out Bale’s performance as the highlight of the film, with Variety’s awards columnist Kristopher Tapley praising his work as “jaw-dropping” and among “the greatest performances he’s ever given.” “It could become an instant Oscar contender in the right hands,” he wrote.
Allen is now officially those hands, though it’s unclear whether or not they will bet he right ones to bring Bale his second Oscar. Entertainment Studios’ track record with the Oscars is untested as the studio is a newcomer to the awards game. The company launched its film division this year with “47 Meters Down,” which is still the highest grossing indie of 2017, and they picked up the well-reviewed TIFF title “Chappaquiddick.” Allen now has two prospective Oscar contenders.
Cooper, meanwhile, hasn’t been in the Oscar race since “Crazy Heart” won Jeff Bridges the Best Actor prize in 2009. His two follow-up films, “Out of the Furnace” and “Black Mass,” had solid buzz during the festivals but couldn’t land any nominations. “Hostiles” is already shaping up to be one of his most acclaimed works. Companies like Netflix were in talks to pick up the film, but Allen’s company landed the drama in the end.