|Scene from Wonder Wheel|
It seems like no year is complete without a new film from Woody Allen. Last year marked the first since the early 90's to feature two (Cafe Society and the "limited series" Crisis In Six Scenes). Still, it's been awhile since he's released an out and out hit. With Wonder Wheel, he looks to be making a return to the awards race with a film that potentially puts Kate Winslet into the Best Actress race. Based on the first trailer, it looks like the odds are more than in her favor. It also helps that this is also one of his best looking movies in years and one of the most promising since Blue Jasmine, which was his last movie to receive Oscar consideration. All things are looking up in the first trailer, which looks to at least be his most upbeat and accessible movie in awhile.
It's difficult to explain the dichotomy of Allen movies anymore. He is impossible to leave out of the race, but he seems to average only one out of five movies as a potential Oscar consideration. Some of it's just because he's as hit as he is miss, but it's also because few of his modern films capture the pantheon in the correct way. Blue Jasmine benefited from a slow word of mouth that landed it on several end of year lists, and lead Cate Blanchett to a Best Actress win. Next to screenplay (usually original). As a fan of his films, I tend to not ignore his potential, though his recent run hasn't been too promising with Magic in the Moonlight and Irrational Man. He's fine, but he hasn't had a runaway hit in awhile.
That's part of the excitement about Wonder Wheel, which has already gotten plenty of press for Winslet's potential Oscar campaign. Considering that it also features Justin Timberlake and Twin Peaks: The Return's Jim Belushi in considerable roles, there's odds that this might pick up some awards love as the season continues. For now, it has to deal with a pretty solid marketing so far. The first poster for the film is one of the more gorgeous pieces of movie art this year. It's also being put out by Amazon Studios, who are coming off of a strong 2016, winning Best Actor for Casey Affleck (Manchester By the Sea) among other nominations. With that clout behind him, Allen at least has the formula for a hit on his hands.
Check out the trailer below:
It looks really good. In some ways, this trailer reminds me of elements of Annie Hall, which is a good thing. The famous roller coaster scenes feel elevated in this film to capture a different kind of anxiety. Who knows what Winslet's character is going to do. However, Allen's cinematography is some of the strongest that it has been in ages. The carnival setting on Coney Island is beautiful, and it looks to be his most stylish. One can only hope that this translates in ways that Magic in the Moonlight failed to do. With that said, this trailer is better than the average Allen trailer, which tends to be generic and lackluster. Amazon Studios must've gotten rights to program this, because it looks better than any Allen movie - in the best ones - in terms of marketing.
Here's the plot according to IMDb:
On Coney Island in the 1950s, a lifeguard tells the story of a middle-aged carousel operator and his beleaguered wife.
Will Wonder Wheel end up being one of his best movies? From the looks of it, the cast is very strong and could pull in some surprise Oscar nominations. If nothing else, it looks like it will give many films a run for its money with Best Cinematography, which you can't say about most Allen movies. It all depends on how Amazon Studios plays the race. They're already doing than most Allen movies from before. With the race starting to take shape, one can only think that, provided the movie is as good as this trailer, we'll be seeing a lot of Winslet on the red carpet this year. I can only expect so, because this has gotten me excited after a few years of lulling returns. Allen's never been a bad director, but it's been awhile since he's been great. Here's hoping Wonder Wheel fixes that.