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Reese Witherspoon's 'Wild,' Jon Stewart's 'Rosewater' enter awards race

Reese Witherspoon's 'Wild' and Jon Stewart's 'Rosewater' have entered the awards race
Fox Searchlight will release Reese Witherspoon's 'Wild' on Dec. 5
Open Road has acquired Jon Stewart's directorial debut, 'Rosewater,' which will open in the fall

Two new films have joined this year's crop of award-season hopefuls: Reese Witherspoon's next movie, "Wild," and Jon Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."

Fox Searchlight has set a Dec. 5 release date for "Wild," the studio announced Monday, placing it squarely in the territory of presumptive Oscar contenders. Meanwhile, Open Road Films announced that it has acquired U.S. distribution rights for "Rosewater," which also will open in the fall.

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee ("Dallas Buyers Club") and based on Cheryl Strayed's bestselling 2012 memoir, "Wild" follows the author's 1,100-mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. At 26, Strayed, who is played by Witherspoon in the film, spontaneously embarked on the adventure following the death of her mother and a difficult divorce.

Though Strayed encountered eclectic characters along her journey, her story is largely one of self-reflection. So there's a good chance the film will be in the vein of recent movies starring one actor alone with the elements, such as "All Is Lost" with Robert Redford or "127 Hours" with James Franco.

Strayed was heavily involved with the production, much of which took place on the famous hiking trail. Last fall, the author shared photos of a makeup-free Witherspoon from the Oregon set. The actress, 38, has not been in the Oscar conversation since eight years ago, when she won for her turn as June Carter in "Walk the Line."

"Rosewater" is also based on a bestselling memoir: Maziar Bahari's "Then They Came for Me: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival," co-written with Aimee Molloy.

The film stars Gael Garcia Bernal as Bahari, a Tehran-born, London-based BBC journalist who returned to Iran to cover the country's 2009 presidential elections, only to end up being arrested, imprisoned and tortured for 118 days.

Stewart, who is best known as the political satirist and media critic who fashioned "The Daily Show" into a perennial Emmy winner, took a three-month summer hiatus from the show to direct the film, for which he also wrote the screenplay.

Stewart has a direct connection to Bahari's saga, which he covered regularly on "The Daily Show." Bahari also appeared on the program to talk about his ordeal after being released.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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