The Weinstein Co.’s Cannes presentation is always an early launching pad for fall awards season. But on Thursday afternoon at the Majestic Hotel, Harvey Weinstein actually started handicapping the 2016 Oscars race from the South of France.
Joined by Jake Gyllenhaal onstage, Weinstein said it was an outrage that the star was snubbed for his performance in “Nightcrawler,” which was released by Open Road Films last fall. “We’ll get revenge,” Weinstein said. “This transformation in ‘Southpaw’ is amazing,” Weinstein added about the upcoming summer movie directed by Antoine Fuqua, where Gyllenhaal plays a professional boxer. Weinstein revealed that “Southpaw” had been selected for Cannes, but it couldn’t play in competition because Gyllenhaal is a member of the jury.
COO David Glasser opened the event by telling the international crowd that 2015 would be a strong year for TWC. After a series of clips premiered, Gyllenhaal, Sienna Miller (“Adam Jones”) and Alicia Vikander (“Tulip Fever”) took the stage.
Variety attended and graded some of the strongest and weakest trailers that debuted. Many of these films don’t have release dates yet, though the more Oscar-friendly movies will probably open near the end of the year.
The Hateful Eight
Weinstein noted that he and Tarantino have worked together on eight films over 22 years. “It’s the best marriage I’ve had,” he said. “Don’t tell Georgina [his wife.]” The footage from this Western, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh, lacked the flair (and star power) of recent projects like “Django Unchained” and “Inglourious Basterds.” But it could just be that this trailer, which featured a series of quick cuts of cowboys, horses, guns and blood, was meant to be intentionally vague.
The trailer for this 1950s-set lesbian romance directed by Todd Haynes opens with Rooney Mara looking wistfully at a toy train running in circles in a department store where she works. Then Cate Blanchett strolls in wearing a fur coat. Based on the preview, “Carol” seems like a bona-fide Oscar contender a la “Brokeback Mountain.” It’s the most promising role Mara has had since “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”
This title based on the bestselling book by Saroo Brierley was a hot sale out of Cannes last year, and the trailer has the feel of another TWC Academy Awards contender. Dev Patel (“Slumdog Millionaire”) is barely recognizable as Saroo, and Nicole Kidman has some vulnerable moments that could enter her into the best supporting actress race for the first time.
Even though Weinstein compared the film to “Raging Bull,” it also looks like an entertaining summer crowd-pleaser. The new trailer reveals a plot twist involving Rachel McAdams (who plays Gyllenhaal’s wife) that suggests her role in the film might not be large. The drama, which showcases another major transformation for Gyllenhaal, comes across as “Rocky” meets “The Pursuit of Happyness.”
Bradley Cooper played a chef once before (on TV’s short-lived “Kitchen Confidential”), so he looks comfortable in an apron as a reformed addict who wants to open a restaurant. If the Oscars gave awards for most eclectic cast, “Adam Jones” would be a frontrunner. The movie reteams Cooper with his “American Sniper” co-star Sienna Miller, who is continuing to make an admirable comeback, alongside Uma Thurman, Emma Thompson and Jamie Dornan (only seen for a second).
Owen Wilson is an American trapped with his family inside a war zone in Asia, but the movie has a generic ’90s action-thriller vibe, with co-star Pierce Brosnan doing his best Bond scowl. It probably won’t be a blockbuster given its early September release date.
The Little Prince
This film based on the classic children’s story is the most promising animated pic to come out of the Weinstein Co. in years.
This is another adaptation based on a popular book, but given that Dane DeHaan looks like a young Leonardo DiCaprio and Alicia Vikander is channeling Claire Danes, it also comes across as a remake of Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Bonus points to Judi Dench for her witty 17th century nun.
Hands of Stone
The second boxing movie on TWC’s slate, which was just acquired out of Cannes, will come out in early 2016. Usher plays Sugar Ray Leonard (in what looks like one of his meatier screen roles), with Edgar Ramirez as his nemesis Roberto Duran, and Robert De Niro as Duran’s trainer. But how many boxing movies has De Niro done?