|Jake Gyllenhaal in Southpaw|
Oh, Jake Gyllenhaal. Much like Leonardo DiCaprio, he has become a prime target for "overdue-Oscar" consideration. Following last year's excellent Nightcrawler, he returned this summer with the boxing drama from director Antoine Fuqua called Southpaw. The results were less than stellar, as those thriving to get Gyllenhaal into the Oscar conversation were immediately dismissed when the film, despite decent box office, failed to keep the hype alive. Between his other 2015 films (Everest and Demolition), it doesn't look to be a great year for him. That is, unless Harvey Weinstein saved a big surprise for the campaign this upcoming weekend with its planned rerelease.
There's a common notion that summer movies are not Oscar material. Based on patterns, this is kind of true. However, I do think that August is the mystery month that sometimes pans out. It's what made Get on Up with Chadwick Boseman so compelling. It is, after all, what made The Help a surprise box office hit and inevitably earned Octavia Spencer a Best Supporting Actress Oscar that year. To disregard August is to not notice a compelling crop of films. To some extent, I think that this is what Oscar fans were holding onto with Southpaw - a film that got decent reviews, but was more focused on Gyllenhaal's "transformation" performance. If anything, it now seems like another silly Oscar bait movie.
Even in the hands of Weinstein, Southpaw felt like a major disappointment. To put it bluntly: nobody is talking about it. Nobody has been talking about it for close to two months now. This isn't a cry against the film, it's a cry against its hype machine. However, the crazy producer thinks that expanding it to 300 screens this weekend will make a difference.
His reasoning is a little uninspired, considering that he is a man of clever trickery. He claims that it will:
"Give more serious-minded audiences who may have missed it the first time around a chance to see a film that we feel is a very serious contender."
To be honest, rereleases have rarely worked in the favor of Oscar consideration, especially when the season has a lot more shining films distracting from this. In fact, the only rerelease that held any impact was for The King's Speech, in which the film released a "clean" version of the film that took away the profanity so that a younger audience could see it. Even then, that was more of a punchline than a successful release, as that version bombed at the box office.
Will Southpaw's second coming work? I doubt it. However, I don't know that Gyllenhaal is entirely out of the race yet. Sure, Everest doesn't look to have much muster, but director Jean-Marc Vallee has had a strong record of getting his actors nominated. While Demolition doesn't look to be the awards contender that Dallas Buyers Club or Wild was, I do think it's a better pony to bet on at this point.