Coming off a dazzling best picture win for Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight,” distributor A24 has locked in a wide-ranging slate of awards season players. Since last we checked, the company has acquired Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” (Nov. 10), which joins Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s “Woodshock” (Sept. 22), Sean Baker’s “The Florida Project” (Oct. 6), Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” (Oct. 27) and James Franco’s “The Disaster Artist” (Dec. 1) in an appropriately eclectic stable.
(Andrew Haigh’s “Lean on Pete” is also in the quiver, bowing at the Venice film festival later this month, but it is likely to be a 2018 release.)
The question in all of this is how far A24 can make it through the season with how many of these drastically different projects. “Lady Bird” has a good shot at wide-ranging appeal, tackling terrain similar to one of the company’s 2016 players, “20th Century Women.” But Baker’s Cannes sensation is an exciting option.
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Many have been drawing facile parallels between “The Florida Project” and “Moonlight,” presumably for no other reason than both are set in the Sunshine State and tell stories of the underrepresented. But it admittedly makes for a helpful shorthand in insinuating a movie like this into the season.
The film tells the story of Moonee (Brooklynn Prince), a precocious 6-year-old girl who lives with her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) in a community of extended-stay motel guests in pastel-streaked Orlando. It’s a hard life seen through the eyes of youthful adventure, a tightrope walk, really. And in a world where no one can say with any confidence what an Oscar movie really is anymore, it certainly has a chance.
In particular, Willem Dafoe is sure to be a story this season as a kind-hearted motel manager. Prince is wonderful and magnetic, though duplicating a run like Quvenzhane Wallis’ (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) is a tall order. Vianaite, a non-actor, deserves serious supporting consideration, and it’s not hard to see the Screen Actors Guild falling for such an effortlessly natural cast like this.
We’ll see what the season has in store, but for now, A24 has revealed the first trailer and poster for the film, which you can view below. “The Florida Project” will transition from Cannes to the early fall festival circuit before an early October release.