|Tom Hiddleston in I Saw the Light|
It's a pretty good time to be Tom Hiddleston. For starters, he has had an impressive run in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as series favorite villain Loki. He also recently worked with director Guillermo Del Toro for the Gothic romance film Crimson Peak from this past weekend. However, those wanting to bet on him getting an Oscar nomination to cap off 2015 will have to wait, possibly even give up hopes entirely. Director Marc Abraham's Hank Williams biopic has been delayed to 2016. This isn't the only film to get moved around, with the Bradley Cooper chef film Burnt also receiving a not as severe change of plans. If anything, these may serve as a slight change to their Oscar buzz going forward.
Up first is the one that is more telling. After being met with mediocre reviews, I Saw the Light didn't look to have strong Oscar chances. While Hiddelston has been praised for his performance, there's several complaints about the film being too conventional, or at times too silly - even to the point of comparisons to biopic spoof Walk Hard. This criticism likely benefited the eventual change, which has now caused the film to move out of the prime Oscar season slot to March 25, 2016. When asked for further reasoning why this happened, Abraham claimed that he didn't want the film to get lost in the shuffle. Even if that isn't a blanket statement, it doesn't seem like the most reassuring thing to say. Of course, the latest film from The Coen Brothers, Hail Caesar!, opens even early in February, so don't hedge your bets just yet.
On the other side is Burnt, which is a film that features three-time Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper as a chef. Unlike I Saw the Light, it has had a tumultuous history, even being renamed from Chef to Adam Jones to Burnt. Coming from Harvey Weinstein, the initial plan was for the film to be released in limited release and slowly gain word of mouth. This approach was largely used to great benefit for Cooper's Silver Linings Playbook, which ended up a huge success with this strategy by eventually opening in wide release. In fact, there's general concern that this means that Weinstein isn't so confident about Burnt's chances for Oscar gold.
In the summer, the film had been moved from October 3 to October 23 for limited release. For those getting ready to see the latest from Cooper, your wait will not be that much longer. It's been moved back a week to October 30, where it will open in wide release. While this may not seem like the biggest of concerns, it already feels like a lack of confidence in the film from Weinstein. Does he think that the film will not have Oscar Buzz, or is it a strategy to combat the prestige market that currently inhabits limited releases, specifically the likes of Steve Jobs and Truth. While it does seem likely that the film can rebound, I don't know that the new strategy says a lot positively about the film.
It could just be that Weinstein is placing all bets on Carol, which has been getting unanimously positive reviews. Whatever the case may be, the awards season is heating up, and the the contenders are starting to formulate in their own strange way. While it seems likely that neither of these films will prove much threat this year or next, I do think that it alters the playing field just enough to make certain things be reconsidered. Will Burnt, a film that I didn't have any hopes for anyway, actually do well enough on its own after being moved around so much? I doubt it, but that's the magic of awards season.