Release date: Dec. 12
Prior Oscar winners: Jack Nicholson (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Terms of Endearment,” “As Good as It Gets”), Diane Keaton (“Annie Hall”), Frances McDormand (“Fargo”), Joe Hutshing (editing, “JFK,” “Born on the Fourth of July”)
While it’s harder for mainstream comedies to bulldoze their way into the hallowed realm of Oscar nominations, a combination of factors could give this role reversal love story from writer-director Nancy Meyers a solid edge.
First, there’s the Academy Award pedigree of the cast: former winners Jack Nicholson (no fewer than three times), Diane Keaton and Frances McDormand. Nicholson, having fun with his lothario image, plays a rich, smug record executive playboy who — while convalescing at the home of one of his much-younger girlfriends after a heart attack — begins to fall for her mother (Keaton), a highly accomplished playwright.
Nicholson’s been having a banner year already, from his Oscar nom for “About Schmidt” to the box office success of the Adam Sandler vehicle “Anger Management,” but this movie’s ace-in-the-hole is likely to be Keaton. Pic has great chance of reminding Academy voters why she was the “it” girl of Woody Allen’s seminal ’70s comedies: her timing, emotional honesty and simply the fact that in many of her scenes she looks as glamorous as ever. The smart, funny and unexpectedly poignant chemistry between Keaton and Nicholson — they were previously coupled only in Warren Beatty’s 1981 epic “Reds” — could bring out voters’ love of recognizing veteran stars at the top of their game. McDormand, playing Keaton’s sharp-witted sister, could land a nomination if pic nabs other key noms.
The 53-year-old Meyers, now on her own after a long collaboration with ex-husband Charles Shyer, has a huge solo directing hit in the bag already (“What Women Want”). This time, though, the singularity of a big Hollywood movie sincerely addressing late-in-life love gives new pic added weight. Previously a nominee 21 years ago — for co-writing “Private Benjamin” — Meyers might be considered a dark horse for her acutely observed romantic comedy.
Success at the box office, though — the film is scheduled for a wide Dec. 12 release from Sony — is almost required for the for pic’s Oscar chances, as has been the case with high-concept comedies in the past (“As Good as It Gets,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” “Shakespeare in Love”).