“The Immigrant” – Marion Cottilard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner

the immigrant 600x338
Directed by: James Gray
Written by: James Gray and Ric Menello
Main Cast: Marion Cottilard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner, and others
Past Oscar relations: Cottilard, Phoenix, and Renner all have Oscar nominations, while Cotillard won Best Actress for La Vie en Rose.

Today we’re focusing on James Gray’s The Immigrant, a new period piece opening this weekend which hopes to at long last get Gray headfirst into the awards race. Gray directs and co-writes (with Ric Menello) here, with Marion Cotillard in the lead role of an immigrant struggling to make it in New York. Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner have the main supporting parts as men in Cotillard’s life, and after a debut last year at the Cannes Film Festival and a spot in the New York Film Festival lineup, the film is coming our way and hoping for the best. The A list cast and period setting definitely has an inherent appeal to awards voters, so that’s a start.

What this flick has going in its favor is a strong cast doing strong work. Cotillard especially is really great here, though Phoenix and Renner are very solid as well. The former two certainly give performances that are up the Academy’s alley, so with a little bit of a push from other voting bodies, Oscar voters could potentially consider their candidacies. Gray also has a great visual palate on display, so it’s hardly just an acting showcase. He really transports you back to turn of the century New York City, so that immersive aspect is a big plus for the film as well.

Working against The Immigrant is that the initial Cannes reviews weren’t overly enthusiastic and Gray’s works on the whole have so far been ignored by the Academy. The period piece aspect here is baity, but without much in the way of raves, as well as a small release from The Weinstein Company here in May as opposed to during prime awards season, this isn’t particularly set up to succeed. Perhaps if it surprises at the box office, things will change, but my hunch is that there won’t be too much of a campaign in place for the movie.

So, can this be a player at all? I’d say that the time has come and gone for this one to make an impact (if it were going to have been a major player, it likely would have been Harvey Weinstein’s horse last awards season, before he settled on Philomena), but it wouldn’t be the first time that a film has been able to beat the odds. More likely than not, Oscar voters will have to really see some strong precursor love for The Immigrant in order to consider it in any real way. Gray’s movies seem to have bad luck with awards, so this is nothing new. Still, it’s well worth seeing, so take a look and perhaps it can surprise on the precursor circuit later this year…

Grade: Long Shot Contender

Stay tuned for another one of these profiles coming your way next week!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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