You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

House of Sand and Fog

Release date: Dec. 26
Distributor:DreamWorks
Prior Oscar winners: Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi”), Jennifer Connelly (“A Beautiful Mind”), James Horner (score, “Titanic”)

A tragedy of Shakespearean magnitude, “The House of Sand and Fog” is DreamWorks’ late-season entry into the Oscar stakes.

Hearkening back to the studio’s 1999 best pic winner “American Beauty,” helmed by theater recruit Sam Mendes, DreamWorks has scored another coup by landing a first-time director, Vadim Perelman, who orchestrates like a seasoned maestro.

A film with no clear-cut villains or heroes, “House” deals with several ambitious themes: bureaucratic victimization, clinical depression, familial bonds, marital fidelity, xenophobia, violence that begets violence, and, finally, a sense of profound humanity. These universal themes are handled with an almost seamless mix of assured acting, dramatic tone, absorbing visuals and lush score.

Cast is top-notch, including Oscar winners Ben Kingsley as Massoud Amir Behrani, an Iranian immigrant who was a colonel under the shah, and Jennifer Connelly as Kathy Nicolo, a recovering alcoholic whose house is mistakenly seized for back taxes. In addition, Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo makes an astonishing English-language debut as Behrani’s proud wife, Nadi.

A native of Kiev in the Ukraine, Perelman — who adapted Andre Dubus’ bestselling novel — established himself in the big-ticket commercial and musicvid world, and his dexterous hand with composition, lighting and mood is sustained throughout the film’s two-plus hours.

Oscar-winning composer James Horner sustains a tone of palpable dread, and cinematographer Roger Deakins, the five-time Oscar-nominated lenser and frequent collaborator of the Coen brothers, delivers a muted palette of gleaming surfaces and ominous shadows.

Pic is benefitting from an aggressive push by DreamWorks, which is four-walling the Music Hall in Beverly Hills for Acad members beginning Nov. 14.

Potent mix of Oscar stalwarts and the arrival of strong new talent in Perelman could prove the right combo come noms time. And pic’s ability to deliver an emotional knockout with no easy resolutions is just the kind of serious drama to which the Acad responds.

More Film

  • Andy Serkis Flarsky

    Andy Serkis Joins Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron in 'Flarsky'

    Release date: Dec. 26Distributor:DreamWorks Prior Oscar winners: Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi”), Jennifer Connelly (“A Beautiful Mind”), James Horner (score, “Titanic”) A tragedy of Shakespearean magnitude, “The House of Sand and Fog” is DreamWorks’ late-season entry into the Oscar stakes. Hearkening back to the studio’s 1999 best pic winner “American Beauty,” helmed by theater recruit Sam Mendes, […]

  • John Lasseter Pixar

    John Lasseter Takes Leave of Absence From Disney/Pixar, Apologizes for Unwanted Hugs

    Release date: Dec. 26Distributor:DreamWorks Prior Oscar winners: Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi”), Jennifer Connelly (“A Beautiful Mind”), James Horner (score, “Titanic”) A tragedy of Shakespearean magnitude, “The House of Sand and Fog” is DreamWorks’ late-season entry into the Oscar stakes. Hearkening back to the studio’s 1999 best pic winner “American Beauty,” helmed by theater recruit Sam Mendes, […]

  • at&t time warner merger

    AT&T-Time Warner Merger: Does the DOJ Have a Case?

    Release date: Dec. 26Distributor:DreamWorks Prior Oscar winners: Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi”), Jennifer Connelly (“A Beautiful Mind”), James Horner (score, “Titanic”) A tragedy of Shakespearean magnitude, “The House of Sand and Fog” is DreamWorks’ late-season entry into the Oscar stakes. Hearkening back to the studio’s 1999 best pic winner “American Beauty,” helmed by theater recruit Sam Mendes, […]

  • Tom Hollander A Private War

    Tom Hollander Joins Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan in 'A Private War'

    Release date: Dec. 26Distributor:DreamWorks Prior Oscar winners: Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi”), Jennifer Connelly (“A Beautiful Mind”), James Horner (score, “Titanic”) A tragedy of Shakespearean magnitude, “The House of Sand and Fog” is DreamWorks’ late-season entry into the Oscar stakes. Hearkening back to the studio’s 1999 best pic winner “American Beauty,” helmed by theater recruit Sam Mendes, […]

  • Spirits Awards Nominations Analysis: 'Call Me

    Spirit Awards: 'Call Me by Your Name,' 'Get Out' Soar, 'Shape of Water' Shunned Again

    Release date: Dec. 26Distributor:DreamWorks Prior Oscar winners: Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi”), Jennifer Connelly (“A Beautiful Mind”), James Horner (score, “Titanic”) A tragedy of Shakespearean magnitude, “The House of Sand and Fog” is DreamWorks’ late-season entry into the Oscar stakes. Hearkening back to the studio’s 1999 best pic winner “American Beauty,” helmed by theater recruit Sam Mendes, […]

  • "Roman J. Israel, Esq."

    'Roman J. Israel, Esq.': How Jake Gyllenhaal Helped Prepare Denzel Washington for Title Role

    Release date: Dec. 26Distributor:DreamWorks Prior Oscar winners: Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi”), Jennifer Connelly (“A Beautiful Mind”), James Horner (score, “Titanic”) A tragedy of Shakespearean magnitude, “The House of Sand and Fog” is DreamWorks’ late-season entry into the Oscar stakes. Hearkening back to the studio’s 1999 best pic winner “American Beauty,” helmed by theater recruit Sam Mendes, […]

  • Spirit Awards Nominations 2018: 'Call Me

    Spirit Awards Nominations Led by 'Call Me by Your Name'

    Release date: Dec. 26Distributor:DreamWorks Prior Oscar winners: Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi”), Jennifer Connelly (“A Beautiful Mind”), James Horner (score, “Titanic”) A tragedy of Shakespearean magnitude, “The House of Sand and Fog” is DreamWorks’ late-season entry into the Oscar stakes. Hearkening back to the studio’s 1999 best pic winner “American Beauty,” helmed by theater recruit Sam Mendes, […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content