Trying to follow in the footsteps of last year’s best original screenplay winner Kenneth Branagh (“Belfast”), Focus Features is trying to position writer, director and co-producer James Gray as one of the awards season’s breakout nominees for “Armageddon Time.” The film is currently sitting with a respectable 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the awards team will be looking for opportunities beyond the Writer’s Branch.
After debuting the film at the Cannes Film Festival, before making stops at Telluride and later this week at the New York Film Festival, the distributor has revealed exclusively to Variety its awards submission categories for the film’s actors.
Anne Hathaway, who plays the devoted mother Esther, was one of the actors who seemed to straddle the line between lead and supporting, and she will be seeking the latter. A two-time Oscar-nominee for “Rachel Getting Married” (2008) and “Les Misérables” (2012), which she won for best supporting actress, she hasn’t been back to the ceremony as a nominee in the last decade. With Michelle Williams’ turn in “The Fabelmans” moving to lead actress, the studio apparently sees an opening for Hathaway in a wide-open category.
As spunky grandmother Mickey Rabinowitz, four-time Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh will also compete alongside Hathaway. While not having a bulk of screen time compared to her co-stars, Feldshuh’s role is full of one-line zingers and steals the movie every moment she’s on screen.
For supporting actor, Emmy winner Jeremy Strong (HBO’s “Succession”) as the stern father Irving, will attempt to break into a race that’s stacked with multiple veterans, including his co-star Anthony Hopkins as wise and loving grandfather Aaron. Hopkins also has a one-scene wonder turn in Florian Zeller’s “The Son” opposite Hugh Jackman that could also factor into the discussion.
In his feature film debut, Jaylin Webb as Paul’s Black friend Johnny Davis, who undergoes a multitude of hardships, will also be presented as a supporting player. His co-star Banks Repeta, who plays the young Paul, will be the sole actor submitted for lead consideration.
The coming-of-age story, which focuses on the strength of family and the pursuit of the American dream, is also seeking recognition in the technical races: production design (Happy Massee and Teri Bella), cinematography (Darius Khondji, who also shot “Bardo”), costume design (Madeline Weeks), film editing (Scott Morris) and original score (Christopher Spelman).
Also serving as producers alongside Gray are Oscar-winner Anthony Katagas (“12 Years a Slave”), Marc Butan and Rodrigo Teixeira.
Gray will be getting the director honor at Mill Valley and the Bill Wittliff Award for screenwriting from the Austin Film Festival.
“Armageddon Time” will open in limited release on Oct. 28 before expanding on Nov. 4.