"What's the deal with all these movies," one academy member asked me over the weekend. "All of a sudden, there are just so many of them, and they're all supposed to be really, really good."
There was a decided uptick in quality this weekend at the Goldwyn with a one-two punch of "Rush" and "Prisoners," fine films that seemed to impress academy members as much as they did festival crowds when they played in Toronto last week. Both movies arrive in theaters on Friday and, if they can catch a commercial foothold with audiences, they could well become factors in several categories this awards season.
"Rush," the story of the rivalry between Formula One racers Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and James Hunt (
Howard is in London, prepping another cinematic left-turn: "In the Heart of the Sea," a look at the 1820 sinking of the American whale ship Essex after it was rammed by a sperm whale in the Pacific, an incident that inspired Herman Melville to write "Moby-Dick." That left the academy screening in the capable hands of Bruhl and Hemsworth, along with producer Brian Grazer, screenwriter
What that means for the film's awards prospects is open to question. Again, "Rush" will need a decent commercial performance, if only to remain in the conversation. If it's a modest hit, all the better for landing one of the final best picture spots in a competitive year. Morgan, a two-time writing nominee, should have a shot for original screenplay. The movie's editing (longtime Howard collaborator Daniel P. Hanley, who won for "Apollo 13") and makeup are exemplary, as is Zimmer's propulsive score. (The composer is almost a lock to be nominated elsewhere, for his tense work on "12 Years a Slave.")
And though it's essentially a two-hander, Hemsworth has a slightly bigger part and will be campaigned in lead. That makes Bruhl, also seen in Toronto to lesser effect in "The Fifth Estate," a better bet in the supporting category, though I did rather enjoy Hemsworth's James Hunt as a James Bond (Roger Moore, of course, it's the '70s) vibe. Effortless charm deserves its rewards too.
There aren't any light or playful moments in "Prisoners," a disturbing revenge thriller starring