Warner Bros Sets Oscar Dates For J. Edgar, Extremely Loud And Gravity

Warner Bros. likes Oscars. And in a hope to grab some gold both this year and next year, they have set release dates for three very high profile projects that threaten to be major award contenders. This year the studio have placed Clint Eastwood‘s J. Edgar and Stephen Daldry‘s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in prime position for award consideration. But, they are also looking ahead to next year by placing Alfonso Cuaron‘s Gravity in a similar spot in what is presumably in hopes for Oscar glory.

Clint Eastwood‘s biopic of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, titled simply J. Edgar will hit screens on November 9th. With Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role, Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black of Milk fame penning the screenplay and Clint Eastwood behind the camera, it is no surprise this has been put forward as an awards baiter.

DiCaprio could be a serious contender for Best Actor, having been nominated multiple times but never actually winning and this is a real life character portrayal. Something the Oscar voters like. What may turn some off is the storyline about Hoover’s closeted affair with colleague Clyde Tolson (played by Armie Hammer). However, that didn’t stop Brokeback Mountain.

The film also contains a fine supporting cast of highly regarded thesps and previous Oscar nominees and winners including Naomi Watts and Judi Dench. With the period setting, Eastwood’s track record and a fine cast, this could be one to watch.

That being said, J. Edgar should watch its back as another contender: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, could take the edge away from Eastwood’s movie.

Stephen Daldry‘s adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s underrated novel will hit Christmas Day in a limited release before going wider in January. In a way, this could be the film with a bigger draw for the Academy. With the background of 9/11 looming large on the story, an array of brilliant actors (with previous winners Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks in large roles), a script by a hugely respected writer Eric Roth and directed by a three time Oscar nominee, this may very well steal J. Edgar’s thunder.

It is also a much more sentimental and emotional story. It follows the trials of a 9 year old boy trying to find out the use of a key left behind by his father, who was killed in the 9/11 attacks. As bad as this sounds, Warners may back this due to the emotional soft spot that 9/11 is for many people, and this year it is the 10th anniversary. The making of the film to chime with that event isn’t an accident either. In the past, the Academy have failed to recognize the few worthy movies that told the 9/11 story. Paul GreengrassUnited 93 was shut out by many, despite being arguably the very best film of that year.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close will likely be more popular with voters than United 93 simply because of its sentimentality. That sentimentality will likely remain considering Roth is writing and when he steps into whimsical (like parts of the novel are) he trips into saccharine. Viewers of Forrest Gump and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button should understand that. And it works, both those movies were huge award season successes. It also has a cast of recognisable faces including Jeffrey Wright, Viola Davis, John Goodman and James Gandolfini, all of whom are among the finest character actors around. This is one to watch.

And finally, Warners is already looking forward to next year’s Oscar season by positioning the most interesting film of the trio: Gravity for a November 21, 2012 release date. This is by far the most cerebral of the three. Set entirely in outer space, with largely one character at its centre and a much publicized opening shot supposed to last 20 minutes, it may sound a tad experimental or niche for Academy tastes but it also marks the return of Alfonso Cuaron.

It may be a tough sell considering this is a female driven sci-fi pic, who is mostly on her own for the majority of the film. But the person playing the central role is Sandra Bullock, who is likely to throw her box office clout behind the film. Also starring is George Clooney, another massive star, and though his role is reportedly small there is no doubt he will be instrumental in marketing this film.

I look forward to this largely because it marks Cuaron’s return to cinema after a 6 year hiatus, his last film Children of Men was brilliant and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us. It has been a long time coming due to numerous actors dropping out but filming finally began two months ago in London, so the film is well underway and should be very much on task for its 2012 release.

Source: The Playlist