“Foxcatcher”: What’s Up with the 2015 Awards Race

foxcatcher Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo
Directed by: Bennett Miller
Written by: E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
Main Cast: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo Vanessa Redgrave, and Sienna Miller, among others…
Past Oscar relations: Futterman, Miller, and Ruffalo are previous Oscar nominees, while Redgrave is an Academy Award winner on top of her multiple citations

Today we have another brand new article in this ongoing series of mine concerning certain high profile 2014 releases hoping to compete for some sort of actual Oscar attention as a contender at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for here for us is one of the more honored contenders of the year already in Foxcatcher. It’s a festival favorite that’s hoping to become one of the top prestige works in the Best Picture race. Does it have a strong chance? Well, let me get into that a little bit right now…

This movie is a drama based on the infamous true story of Jon du Pont and brothers David and Mark Schultz. In short, du Pont is a disturbed millionaire who becomes interesting in coaching wrestling and recruits Mark to be his prized pupil. He eventually also hires well respected coach David to head up the team, though he quickly feels inferior to him, much like Mark has as well. Tension rises until the real life tragedy occurs. It’s a powerful film, to say the least. Bennett Miller directs, while Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo Vanessa Redgrave, Sienna Miller, and Anthony Michael Hall head up the cast. E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman co-wrote the screenplay, and now the film begins its official run this weekend, hoping to attract solid Oscar attention.

What this film has going in its favor is the top notch performances by Carell, Ruffalo, and Tatum, as well as the direction from Miller. They’re all at the top of their game, doing tightly wound and uncomfortable yet unforgettable work. There’s an undercurrent of humor here as well that really gives it an added bit of darkness. It’s uncompromising, but in the best way possible. Miller won Best Director when the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, so the pedigree is already there. If Oscar voters are as taken as the jury at Cannes was, Best Picture, Best Director (for Miller), Best Actor (for Carell and/or Tatum), Best Supporting Actor (for Ruffalo), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Original Score could easily be in play. Not all of those nods will end up happening, but some will for sure. At least one acting nom seems all but certain, if nothing else.

Working against Foxcatcher is just how long the road has been from Cannes to release. Back before that festival started, it was a potential X factor and frontrunner. Directly after the fest, it was basically the one to beat, and now with all the other contenders that have popped up, it’s possibly dropped to middle of the road status. None of that is the fault of this very strong film, but it shows a chink in the armor. If it’s such a good movie, how come it’s paling in comparison to certain other ones? I’m not sure this will prevent it from scoring any of its probable nominations, but it does seem to make any wins a far longer shot than you’d have initially expected. There’s no chance it’ll wind up being shut out or anything of the sort, but wins in Picture, Director, Actor (for Carell), Supporting Actor, or Original Screenplay seem less than likely. Sometimes that’s just the way that the cookie crumbles.

So, can this be a player at all? It really all depends on how the precursors treat it. If Foxcatcher shows up with regularity, it could get cited by the Academy all over the place. If other flashier contenders get all the love, the movie might have to settle for perhaps even just a single citation or two. It’s really up in the air right now, but with the film hitting theaters tomorrow, at the very least you’ll be able to see and appreciate it for yourself. Don’t miss it…

Grade: Likely Contender (in the major categories at least)

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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