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“Truth” seeks to be a second Oscar vehicle for Cate Blanchett

Truth Cate Blanchett Robert Redford
In some ways, the film Truth is the “other” film in this year’s awards race, which can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on the situation. It’s the “other” Cate Blanchett Oscar player besides Carol, and the “other” journalism tale this season besides Spotlight. I’ll have plenty more on both Carol and Spotlight in the weeks to come, trust me there (especially in the latter’s case), but today I want to look at James Vanderbilt’s Truth, which opens in limited release this week and is not just a vehicle for Blanchett, but for Robert Redford as well. Is it up to snuff for the Academy? Well, I’ll tell you a bit more below…

The movie is an adaptation of the book by Mary Mapes and a look at the controversy surrounding those who worked at the news magazine show 60 Minutes and the CBS evening news. Blanchett plays Mapes, a producer, while Redford plays famous anchor Dan Rather, both of whom would get caught in a scandal after putting together a report on then President George W. Bush and his military service. They initially think they’ve done a solid journalistic piece, but a firestorm of criticism erupts in the aftermath, leading both to eventually lose their jobs. This is a look at the dangers of reporting on those in power and how one wrong move can cost you your career. Vanderbilt writes and directs, while the cast in addition to Blanchett and Redford includes Topher Grace, Bruce Greenwood, Stacy Keach, Elisabeth Moss, Dermot Mulroney, and Dennis Quaid. The cast is solid, trust me there, no pun intended.

Truth does suffer in comparison to both of the aforementioned titles, whether you’re comparing it as a Blanchett vehicle or a journalism story. Taken on its own though, away from Carol and Spotlight, it’s a solid, if overly dramatic look at a moment in time when no one wound up looking good on either side of the debate. Blanchett and Redford are quite good, while scribe Vanderbilt makes a mostly successful directing debut. In some ways, it treads similar ground to a plot line on the show The Newsroom, but this is far more based on reality, having come from Mapes’ own book. It might be too small for Oscar attention, but Blanchett’s presence on the precursor circuit will give it a fighting chance.

Speaking of awards, what kind of a campaign might this flick have? Personally, I think it should be a small targeted campaign, but I could definitely see a broader one being staged involving Best Picture, Best Director (for Vanderbilt), Best Actor or Supporting Actor (for Redford, depending on category placement), Best Actress (for Blanchett), and Best Adapted Screenplay (for Vanderbilt). I’m not sure Redford makes it in, regardless of category, but he’s definitely worth a campaign. Blanchett is a more likely nominee for Carol in Best Actress, so this could wind up a case of vote splitting, though again, it’s worth the campaign. She represents the best chance Truth has of an Academy Award nomination, but nothing at all is guaranteed here. Far from it, in fact. The precursors will have to be kind to the film in order to keep it from fading fast.

Overall, Truth is the sort of true life drama that ww get often during the fall and winter months of each year. It’s a solid enough movie, but sadly one that will pale in comparison for many when they see Spotlight. Similarly, Blanchett is strong here, but she has a more awards friendly/baity role in Carol, so that puts this movie between a rock and a hard place. Audiences will have a chance to see it for themselves starting on Friday, so if it catches on in limited release, all bets are off. That being said, outside of Blanchett potentially, I wouldn’t expect this one to make a big dent with Oscar. Sit tight though, as we’ll be finding out about its awards legs (along with many other contenders) soon enough…

Be sure to check out Truth, in theaters starting this weekend!

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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