As we near the end of the year, there are only a few unseen Oscar contenders left that could spoil the race. That number shrinks by one, as Denzel Washington’s Fences premiered last night to rave reviews.
Fences was written in 1983 by August Wilson, one of America’s most renowned playwrights. It follows the life of 53-year old Troy Maxson, a garbage man in Pittsburgh. Troy used to be a beloved Negro League baseball player, but was forced out before African-Americans were allowed to join the MLB. He begins to struggle with the events that have led him to this place in life as he struggles to support a son he argues with and a wife who does her best to stand by him despite his flaws. The screenplay was written by Wilson before his death in 2005. The film will be based predominately on the 2010 revival that starred Washington and Viola Davis, and will include much of the same cast.
As the reviews rolled in, there was unanimous praise for the cast, especially Washington and Davis, who have placed themselves firmly as frontrunners in the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories. Mykelti Williamson has also made himself a major contender for Best Supporting Actor (Bubba!). Furthermore, the script looks to become a frontrunner for Best Adapted Screenplay, by far the weakest of the writing fields. The film’s biggest knock is it feels a little too theatrical (a knock against most of Washington’s directorial efforts) for the screen, giving it a bit of an inauthentic feel, and somewhat hindering it in the Best Picture and Best Director category. However, when a film has this level of love, and the actors are this well directed, that can sometimes be overlooked (look at Silver Linings Playbook and Room). At any rate, look for this film to play big at the Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globes in the coming months, and you can count this in as one of my most anticipated for the month of December. You can read my article about the trailer here, and get an early glimpse at an Oscar frontrunner.