April 21, 2014

Can “Tyrannosaur” stomp into the Oscar race? – AWARDS ALLEY


By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: I arrived late to the “Tyrannosaur” party, though I’d read the attempts at Hollywood Elsewhere, In Contention and elsewhere to drum up support for Paddy Considine’s indie cast, particularly Olivia Colman as Hanna, a shop keeper who opens herself up to a surly, destructive drunk (Peter Mullan) with devastating physical, spiritual and emotional results.

The film won trophies out of Sundance and gradually has been picking up support on the awards circuit. It recently nabbed a pack-leading seven nominations from the British Independent Film Awards, putting it in the company of Steve McQueen’s “Shame” and Tomas Alfredson’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.”

And do you know what? It belongs there.

As suspected, Considine’s directorial debut is a redemption project, with broken souls leaning on each other as they find their way through difficult times. Like a traditional Irish wake, it is, at times, depressing, celebratory, devastating and boisterous. Yet the script’s honest probes of such taboo subjects as rape, alcoholism and savage, blue-collar violence are unflinching, which pushes “Tyrannosaur” past like-minded, melodramatic Sundance pap.

What you’ve heard about Colman is true. Her Hanna is a bruised and battered individual hiding behind her wavering faith. And when her belief system’s is challenged by an abusive husband (Eddie Marsan), the actress allows numerous difficult emotions to flood across her tranquil face. Considine’s focus shifts from Colman to Mullan at times, though both are so good at wallowing in the human pain of this raw story that “Tyrannosaur” rarely misses a step.

Can grassroots efforts help Strand Releasing get “Tyrannosaur” in front of enough Oscar voters to push the challenging drama into awards consideration? Anything’s possible. The performances are worthy. But every year, we see casualties of the awards marathon that, while deserved, can’t gain or maintain traction. It will be interesting to see how “Tyrannosaur” fares.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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