The Contenders 2011

On paper, “The Ides of March” — with its intimations of Shakespeare, the sin of pride and John Edwards’ ill-fated run for the White House — would seem like the zeitgeist film of the moment as the nation revs up for another presidential election. The cast alone — Oscar winners George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Marisa Tomei, young hot shots Ryan Gosling and Evan Rachel Wood, as well as sharp, Yale-schooled character actor Paul Giamatti — lends it a rarified pedigree.

And yet the film lacks the critical heat often needed to fan Oscar’s flames. It scored a 67 out of 100 on the Metacritic.com site, with Entertainment Weekly (“a grippingly dark and cynical drama”) and the New York Observer (“one of the most important films of the year”) among its ardent champions. But big-circulation dailies like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the L.A. Times were lukewarm, suggesting a lack of gravity and a certain timidity in the film’s depiction of backroom politics.

Still, as smart, thought-provoking entertainment, “Ides” has plenty going for it, including contributions from A-list composer Alexandre Desplat; scribe Grant Helsov, who adapted the Beau Willimon play “Farragut North” with Clooney; and ace editor Stephen Mirrione — all previous Acad favorites. Plus, audiences have embraced it, racking up an impressive $37 million for the indie-scaled drama at the domestic box office.”Farragut North” with Clooney; and ace editor Stephen Mirrione — all previous Acad favorites.

Release date: Oct. 7
Sony
Read the Variety review

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