Last year, Fox Searchlight became the toast of awards season by cutting it close — it picked up the season’s two darlings, “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Wrestler,” as late as August and September, respectively.
This year it could be cutting it even closer.
After the lukewarm response to one-time hopeful “Amelia” (not to mention boxoffice doldrums for young-skewing comedies “Whip It!” and “Gentlemen Broncos”), the specialty division may be making a fall push for “Crazy Heart,” the country-music drama starring Jeff Bridges.
At the moment, the picture remains dated for next year, as it has been since Searchlight acquired it this summer. But the specialty division has scheduled a surprise, last-minute screening for Wednesday in what wagging tongues are saying is a trial balloon for a 2009 release and awards push.
Company reps aren’t formally saying if there’s a calendar move or awards-push in the offing. But given how much Searchlight has been a fixture on the Oscar circuit the past few years (best pic noms or wins three straight years) — and how high expectations are for this pic (execs have been buzzing about it to reporters for several months), it would almost be odd if they didn’t (assuming the movie is deemed ready, of course — which is likely exactly the point of Wednesday’s screening).
The content of the film: Scott Cooper makes his directional debut with “Crazy Heart,” which is based on Thomas Cobb’s novel and centers on a washed-up country singer (Bridges) who gets his life back on track thanks to the help of a female reporter, and a close but complicated relationship with a younger country star.
It’s got some impressive bona fides: Music icon T-Bone Burnett serves as a producer, and Colin Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall also star.
Early buzz had the picture as “The Wrestler” for country music. If it plays well, expect that to continue. Jeff Bridges may not be the loose cannon that Mickey Rourke was last year (though is it us or does he even look a little like him in this photo?). And we’ll see if this pic can bring the drama. At the very least, though, it looks like we’ll have some drama on the awards circuit.-It's still scheduled for 2010, but it's something worth keeping an eye on....