Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The "Hitchcock" Trailer Shows the Acting Fields Filling Up Fast

Anthony Hopkins
Today saw the release of the trailer for what has long been considered "the other Alfred Hitchcock film." That's right, first the HBO film The Girl directed by Julian Jarrold and starring Toby Jones and Sienna Miller focusing on Hitchcock's relationship with Tippi Hedron (Miller) and more specifically The Birds. Now comes the less inspired title Hitchcock, directed by Sacha Gervasi and starring Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, and Scarlett Johansson focusing on the making of Psycho. Despite the dueling banjos aspect of these two films, buzz has been around Hopkins and his portrayal, which is pretty uncanny in the trailer. However, is the film capable of landing more credibility than this?

To state the obvious, there is little chance that Hitchcock will walk away with Best Picture. With competition like Argo, The Master, and even Les Miserables, it would be near impossible to even get a spot on the lower rung. However, it does add a lot of potential to the acting categories, which is starting to take shape, most notably with Joaquin Phoenix for Best Actor in The Master and the high praise of Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln, which is currently the front runner based on the most recent trailer. 

This is not to say that all of the slots are filled. There is a very good chance that Anthony Hopkins can squeak in. Just watch the trailer:

If the production stills previously released gave you any doubts of at least the uncanny mannerisms being perfected, then this trailer is for you. For the most part, the trailer plays much like The Girl, only giving us a vague idea of what happens and enough proof that Hopkins at least looks the part. We also see Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson doing decent work. This may be a good movie, but I don't see Best Picture written all over it.

However, as I've stated, Hopkins may be the best thing going for this film. In fact, portrayals of celebrities has long been an Oscar shoe-in for the acting category. Meryl Streep won Best Actress for The Iron Lady for playing Margaret Thatcher. My Week with Marilyn also earned Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh acting nominations for playing Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier respectively. As previously established, this could largely be due to the Academy's fascination with their own history, though it isn't always the case. The acting fields are usually reserved for either favorites or really good performances. The winner almost always falls directly in the middle.

With this established, Hopkins previously won Best Actor for Silence of the Lambs. It has been over 20 years since he has won something, but with an additional three acting nominations, he has the Meryl Streep (so many nominations without a single win) thing going for him. Depending on how well he pulls off the Hitchcock mannerisms (which it is looking like he might), the more confident that I am sure that he is looking at the very least at a nomination. Not too many other performances have yet to solidify their place in the Best Actor position.

Scarlett Johansson
It is also very assuring to note that the movie was moved up to a November release because it was believed that the film could compete against the big shots. While biopics don't do well in the Best Picture category (save for The King's Speech), there is always a chance for an upset. However, if this ends up causing controversy, it will only tarnish what is expected to be a solid but not life changing movie. Hitchcock will probably just be another film with a lot of great performances, but otherwise a forgetful story.

With that established, I wonder what the odds are that Mirren or Johansson can get nominations. Branagh got nominated for Best Supporting Actor for playing Laurence Olivier, which wasn't exceptional. Maybe Mirren's Alma Reville will actually be the surprise anchor to Hitchcock. Either that, or Mirren will just get nominated on account that like Meryl Streep, she is practically acting royalty at this point. The best question comes from Johansson as Janet Leigh, whose brevity in this does nothing to establish a valid opinion. Still, if Branagh can get a nomination for a mediocre role, there is a chance that Hitchcock's ladies can fill out the holes in the acting fields. 

Still, chances are that the film will not win. It may play well and garner enough buzz for nominations, but I cannot see it beating the top dogs in this year's race. At most, it will be like Doubt and just round out the acting fields. I do not see it getting anything like Best Adapted Screenplay or even technical fields. At most, I can see make-up, though I would like to think Cloud Atlas will nudge Hitchcock out of that slot. 

So while it is looking like a pretty decent movie, I cannot say that I hold high hopes for the Oscars. It isn't anything personal against the film. It is just that you have to compete against Daniel Day Lewis and Joaquin Phoenix, who already show promising leads. At very least, we can at least bet our money on whether or not it will be better than The Girl. At this point, that will be the real competition, thus finally replacing the Infamous/Capote competition of 2006.

Does Anthony Hopkins look like he will pull a surprise win? Will he even get nominated? Does Scarlett Johansson have what it takes for a nomination, or is it too early to decide? Could this be My Week with Marilyn all over again? 

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