There comes a point every year when the studios reach a panic. They need to give their movies a placing that will optimize critical, commercial and awards potential. No one is more notorious about this than the Weinstein Company. Harvey loves to move things around to see what sticks, and it seems this time he is joined by Filmnation, as Weinstein’s The Founder has been moved from an August release date to December 16th, and Filmnation’s Miss Sloane has been given a key December 9th release date.
The Founder is Weinstein’s big Oscar horse this year. A parable about greed in the vein of The Social Network and There Will Be Blood, the film tells the story of Ray Kroc’s rise to power and his creation of the McDonalds’ empire. The film studies his strategy to corner the market, as well as the way he stabbed the real-life McDonald brothers in the back. Michael Keaton plays Kroc, Laura Dern is his put-upon wife, and character actors Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch as the brothers. I have read the script for this film, and I absolutely hated it. Despite an interesting premise and a normally strong writer, the script is derivative, childish, and utterly condescending to its audience. That being said, it was a first draft, and while director John Lee Hancock is a bit of a mixed director, Keaton is always great, being the most deserving Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for Birdman and Spotlight, respectively (despite not winning for the former or even being nominated for the latter). The film was originally given an August release date, which is a death slot, but this recent move implies awards hopes for the film. Expect a Toronto Film Festival appearance in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Jessica Chastain is looking to get back into the Academy’s good graces after a four-year absence. She has teamed up with Shakespeare in Love director John Madden for Miss Sloane. The film follows a cutthroat political lobbyist who will do whatever it takes to win. That’s a fairly basic concept that has a lot of room to stretch. At this moment I’m not sold on the film being a major award contender. However, every year there’s something that breaks late in the race that ends up taking the Best Actress award, and I pooh-pooh it every year at the first announcement. Last year, it was Brie Larson, the year before it was Julianne Moore, and in 2012 it was Jennifer Lawrence. This could be a sign that Chastain is going to win this year. But I’m going to wait and see. The film is scheduled for release on December 9th.