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Hollywood Contenders – Can “Secret in their Eyes” be an awards friendly remake?

secret in their eyes
The word “remake” is a dirty word to critics, but it doesn’t always have to be the case. Once in a while, something even becomes an awards player, like when Martin Scorsese took Infernal Affairs, remade it as The Departed, and won the Oscar for Best Picture, along with his first Academy Award for Best Director. It doesn’t happen often, but it has happened. This week, another remake hoping to appeal to the Academy, namely the remake of The Secret in their Eyes (which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Feature, incidentally). This time just called Secret in their Eyes, it’s out on Friday and would love to be the next incarnation of The Departed…

The film is, as previously mentioned, a remake of the Oscar winning original. It centers around the 13 year obsession over the murder of a government agent’s daughter. The agent, along with her former colleagues, hunt for the killer initially, before being told to back off for political reasons. In the present day, one of the three can’t let it go and begins the quest all over again. Billy Ray writes and directs, while the main trio consists of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, and Julia Roberts. Also in the cast are Joe Cole, Zoe Graham, Michael Kelly, Alfred Molina, Dean Norris, and more.

secret in their eyes poster

I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of this film, but the performance by Julia Roberts is worth taking note of. She’s as good here as she’s been in quite some time, at least since Charlie Wilson’s War, if not all the way back to Erin Brockovich. She really digs deep to portray this damaged character, someone who loves her job, but loves her daughter more. In the aftermath of the tragedy, she’s a shell of her former self. Roberts sells it rather perfectly, creating one of the more compelling characters of her career so far. If the movie had been a bit better (honestly, it’s just unnecessary with how good the original is, if you ask me), I could have seen a definite case made for Roberts to be in the Oscar race once again this year. Now, it’s a much longer shot for Ray’s flick, to say the least.

Hypothetically speaking, there could have been lots of awards potential for Secret in their Eyes. In a perfect world, you would have seen campaigns for Best Picture, Best Director (for Ray), Best Actor (for Ejiofor), Best Actress (for Roberts), Best Supporting Actor (for Norris), Best Supporting Actress (for Kidman and/or Roberts, depending on what category placement would have been like), and Best Adapted Screenplay (for Ray). There might still be a push, but the only one you need to pay any attention to is Roberts’, be it in Actress or Supporting Actress. She’s the sole hope for this film, but it’s not very likely, if you ask me. We shall see, but don’t bet on it happening.

Overall, Secret in their Eyes is likely just going to have to settle for trying to appeal to the masses as a police procedural. Starting tomorrow, it will have that chance, and who knows, maybe I’m all turned around on this one? I doubt it, but anything is possible. In all likelihood, it will come and go, like many other non prestige November releases. At the very least though, it was something to once consider. Give it a shot if you think it appeals to you, but if not, just remember that The Secret in their Eyes is available to watch as well, and is the superior film. As remakes go, this one is just not up to snuff. Make of that what you will…

Secret in their Eyes is in theaters everywhere on Friday!

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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