Hollywood Contenders – Angelina Jolie’s “By the Sea” is finally revealed

Angelina Jolie Brad Pitt By The Sea
Last night, the very first look at Angelina Jolie’s passion project of sorts By the Sea was given to folks at AFI Fest. As one of the last titles to have not shown itself to basically anyone (along with The Hateful Eight, Joy, and The Revenant), it’s been an X factor for basically all of 2015. Now that it has been seen by some, it’s a perfect time to take a look at if the Academy will be considering this one at all. Initially reviews have been mixed at best, so that’s not an immediately positive sign, but it does have a lot of ingredients that could still appeal to Oscar. With it hitting theaters next week, now’s the perfect time to discuss just that…

The film is a 1970’s set look at a married couple unraveling/trying to save their union while vacationing in a small seaside town. Jolie (or again, Jolie Pitt) plays Vanessa, while Brad Pitt is Roland, both of whom are dealing with tragedy in their own way. They’re essentially caught in stasis, though the arrival of newlyweds Lea (Melanie Laurent) and Francois (Melvil Pouopard) stirs them somewhat. Jolie writes, directs, and stars with Pitt here, while other members of the cast include Niels Arestrup, Sarah Naudi, and more. Cinematography is by the great Christian Berger. Overall, it does seem like a vanity project for the actress, but voters have gone for that sort of a thing in the past.

Angelina Jolie By The Sea

What will determine the fate of By the Sea, more so than these first reviews (which veer towards being unkind as opposed to kind) is whether audiences will come see something like this. If there’s a notable box office and proof that this duo brings butts into seats, Oscar voters could take notice. When it comes to the Academy Awards, money doesn’t mean everything, but it does mean something with middle of the road titles like this one. Voters used to go for actors or actress who wrote and directed their own passion projects all the time, but they had to be financially successful first. That will be the biggest hurdle for this flick here.

Awards wise, I think the odds favor a shut out for By the Sea more than anything else, give or take some mild precursor attention. That being said, a campaign will likely be mounted for it all the same. Look for it to be at least slightly considered in Best Picture, Best Director (for Jolie), Best Actor (for Pitt), Best Actress (for Jolie), Best Supporting Actress (for Laurent), Best Original Screenplay (for Jolie), and Best Cinematography. None of it seems extremely likely to happen, but you can’t quite count it out yet either. Pitt has The Big Short to also have him in contention, but this is Jolie’s only horse in 2015, so she could really wage a blitzkrieg to try and slip it in somewhere. Don’t hold your breath, but don’t completely dismiss it either.

Overall, I suspect that By the Sea will come and go fairly quickly. I see it on Monday, so if it’s noteworthy in any way, I’ll discuss it again, but this could be the last time we think much about this would be contender. That all remains to be seen, but with a release date of next Friday, it could be now or never for the film. We shall see what happens, but as a curiosity at least, this has some appeal. I’ll report back in on the movie if the need arises, but with the theatrical release just a week away now, have this one on your radar if you’re a fan of the power couple…

Be sure to check out By the Sea, in theaters in November 13th!

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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