The most common films released in the fall festival season are what I lovingly refer to as “old people dramas.” These are the films hoping to make an Oscar push that are usually focused on history, costumes, and either romance or drama. They are usually released by Weinstein or some unknown European company, but they are specifically designed to put that warm feeling in your grandmother’s heart. I reference these types of movies because we have not one, but two trailers meeting these criteria released today: Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom and Garth Davis’ Lion.
A United Kingdom follows the first President of Botswana (David Oyelowo), who is forced into exile in England for falling in love with and marrying a white woman (the fantastic Rosamund Pike). The couple then takes on the British Empire to secure their right to love. Asante is a rising director, having made the well-received Belle in 2013, and with a powerful story and two great leads on her side, I’m sure the film will become a hit.
Meanwhile, Lion is the former Oscar heavyweight Harvey Weinstein’s big Oscar push for this year, having put all his eggs into this basket. Based on a true story, the film follows Saroo Brierley (Dev Patel), a young man on an impossible quest. Twenty years earlier, Saroo lost his family in a series of train stations in Calcutta, India. He eventually found his way to an orphanage, where he was adopted by loving Australian parents (David Wenham and Nicole Kidman). Saroo loves his family, and soon assimilates with Australian culture, but never forgets his mother and brother back in India. Now, at the age of twenty-five, he sets out to find them, using only his memories and a new-fangled piece of technology called Google Earth, in a global quest to be reunited with the family he lost so long ago. It’s an interesting concept, and one that can definitely make a splash with the right type of audience. Kidman especially looks top of her game, and it’s one that audiences should keep an eye on for the near future.
Personally, I think both films look fine, but I don’t have any special feelings for either of them. They could potentially become awards players, but I don’t see anything in either trailer that screams “Oscar.” However, I reserve the right to be wrong, and I look forward to seeing both films upon their release. You can watch both trailers below (Lion courtesy of USA Today), and see the films when they are released. A United Kingdom will be released November 25th in the U.K., Lion will be released on November 25th everywhere, and both will be premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in a couple weeks.