The next three months of movie releases will see which heavy hitters will strike it big on Oscar night
The movie release schedule for the first two months of 2017 will be stuffed tight with potential Oscar nominees. Movies that opened pre-Christmas in the United States to meet the awards criteria will flood into Irish cinemas from the beginning of January starting with Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited period epic Silence on New Year’s Day. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, director Ang Lee’s first feature since The Life of Pi in 2012, will open a few days later and it will be followed by the well-regarded A Monster Calls; The Mercy - the true story of amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst’s attempt to fake his involvement in a round-the-world yacht race in 1968, follows that, along with the Ryan Gosling/Emma Stone musical La La Land and Ben Affleck’s elaborate Prohibition-era crime tale Live By Night. All in all, a busy season at the cinema awaits.
Manchester by the Sea, which is widely viewed as an Oscar front-runner, will be released on 13th January. Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, it is the story of a grieving Boston janitor (Casey Affleck) who is forced to return to his small home town to look after his nephew when his brother dies. The tender, human drama caused a minor sensation at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year when it started a bidding war that ended with Amazon Studios plonking down $10m for the rights of the film (the budget was a mere $9m).
Jackie is another one of those movies that journeys through the festival circuit throughout the year, building the sort of reputation that ultimately makes it a contender at the Oscars. It was originally conceived as a HBO miniseries; then, in 2010, Darren Aronofsky was slated to direct it with his partner Rachel Weisz in the title role, but they split up and Steven Spielberg showed an interest.
Towards the end of 2012, Fox Searchlight Pictures began courting Natalie Portman to play Jacqueline Kennedy and she was willing to join the production dependent on the choice of director. At this stage Aronofsky – with whom Portman had done the Oscar-winning Black Swan - was still involved as producer; he met the Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain at the Berlin Film Festival and, on the basis of seeing his movie The Club, he asked him to direct Jackie. From there Larrain and Portman came together and developed the film as a psychological portrait of the former First Lady in the four days after the assassination of her husband.
Jackie will now become the focus of an Oscar campaign in the US, beginning on 2nd December and we will see it here on 20th January.
Lion and Split will open on the same day and be followed by Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply and the true-life drama Denial.
February will kick off with three potential awards contenders – Fences, an adaptation of the August Wilson play from the early 1980s with Denzel Washington starring and directing; Gold, screenwriter-turned-director Steven Gaghan’s story of an unlucky businessman (Matthew McConnaughey) and a geologist (Edgar Ramirez) who team up to find gold in the uncharted Indonesian jungle, and Loving.
Starring the Irish actress Ruth Negga and Australian Joel Edgerton, Loving is a dramatisation of the landmark civil rights case which invalidated laws that prohibited inter-racial marriage in the United States.
Other February releases are The Founder, the true story of Illinois salesman Ray Kroc, who turned McDonald’s fast food operation into a national franchise, dislodging the original owners, Mac and Dick McDonald; Hidden Figures, Moonlight and Patriot’s Day, an account of the 2013 Boston marathon bombing and the subsequent manhunt for the terrorists responsible round up the season, each of which have potential for recognition come Oscar night.
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