Freya Mavor by Nicolas le Forestier.
Freya Mavor by Julien Panié.
Films that may be serious Oscars contenders
Directed by Angelina Jolie, from a script by Joel & Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravanese and William Nicholson, and starring Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Garret Hedlund and Jai Courtney.
Synopsis: A chronicle of the life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces during World War II.
Release Date: December 25th
What Are Its Oscar Chances? Um, did you read that synopsis? The Oscar potential for this one is pretty much off the charts — in fact were we to concoct in a test tube the ideal Oscar bait movie, it would probably turn out looking something like this. A stirring, life-affirming true story of resilience in the face of insurmountable odds, based on an already bestselling prestige biography, adapted by Oscar-winning writer/directors, directed by one of the most powerful people in Hollywood making that admired transition (after her small-scale drama debut “In the Land of Blood and Honey”) from actor to director, and starring a white-hot new face who will undoubtedly be given a separate push for Best Actor ? Come on. In fact the only thing really counting against “Unbroken” at this stage is that it feels so much like an Academy pick that the more contrarian element may kick against it just for that. Still, something would have to go really, really, really wrong for this not to be a major player.
But How Excited Are We Really? It’s the sort of thing that we might ordinarily be a little dismissive of — oh no, not another painfully sincere period biopic — but we thought Jolie’s directorial debut was promising, if flawed, and the advance materials we’ve seen here look impressively epic and visual. The Coens’ involvement on the script is also heartening, as well as La Gravanese’s considering his screenplay for “Behind the Candelabra” is in roughly the same genre and aside from an Emmy nod, didn’t get the props it deserved. And most importantly, perhaps, we’re already dyed-in-the-wool fans of Jack O’Connell, who got our year off to such a terrific start with “Starred Up” in Goteborg, followed by “‘71” in Berlin that we’re willing to believe he can bring to a terrific close too.