It’s difficult to get your movie out there in the thick of the awards race, but especially so this year with so many great films trying to push through a few very small holes. It takes a big star to get attention – which is why, around this time of year, they are brought out to help films that are struggling. A big star will always draw a crowd. The bigger the better. Here is Guy Lodge reporting the Jolie Impossible screening:

Jolie: “What the filmmakers have done, they have made [the tsunami], through this one family’s story, personal. We feel like we are in it and we travel through it, and it changes us. That is quite an extraordinary thing and I think that is due to the brilliance and the elegance of the script by Sergio Sanchez. You can see the detail and the care that he took when you watch this, and the respect for this family and all of the families involved. When you take a true story like this, to handle it with such delicacy is really to be commended. It is also masterfully directed by J.A. Bayona, and there will be many scenes where you will be sitting here watching it thinking, ‘How did they do that? That is insane! I don’t understand.’ I was asking them myself and they said, ‘Don’t you know? Aren’t you an actor?’ And I said, ‘It is just beyond imagination.’

“The true testament of any film is what you walk away with, and I think in this film you walk away with more empathy, with a greater sense of connection to your fellow man, and you want to run home and hug your kids, and tell the people you love that you love them. There is no greater message and this is an extraordinary film.”

Lodge: “Beyond imagination” is apt choice of words: it’s the film’s skill in realizing an experience effectively unimaginable to anyone but its survivors that distinguish it from the rest of the prestige pack this season — as physical, sensation-based filmmaking, it bears comparison with the work of Spielberg and Cameron. Summit has posed themselves a challenge by releasing “The Impossible” in the thick of December, but if enough Academy members make time to watch it, many of them will find themselves as profoundly affected as Jolie.

I had a brief chat with McGregor, and seeing him in typically genial, relaxed mode only highlighted how contrastingly frayed and beaten he is in the film; he described it as the most challenging work of his career. McGregor has, of course, never been recognized by the Academy — partly, I suspect, because he excels at playing everymen. As a natural movie star, his best performances tend to look easier than they are: he was as worthy as his Oscar-winning co-star Christopher Plummer in “Beginners,” for example, but it was an evocation of anguish too subtle — too casual, even — to register with voters. In “The Impossible,” he’s crying out louder — let’s see if they hear him this year.

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  • phantom

    They are really pulling out all the stops here : they’ve already mailed the screeners, Watts has just done the THR Roundtable, McGregor had this special screening with Angelina Jolie, they released a brand-new featurette featuring the mother Watts plays etc. The first reviews were stellar, the film is a huge hit in Spain, and considering it is a tearjerking family drama, I could easily see it break out in the US too, this could be the sleeper hit of the Holiday Season. Frankly, I don’t understand why more people don’t take it more seriously. I think it has tremendous potential to surprise in Best Picture and maybe even Best Director and I consider Naomi Watts the most viable contender to pull off an upset in Best Actress. There, I said it.

  • This is a great way to help Oscar voters to decide what to actually watch before they vote. It’s unfortunate that this is how the game is played.

  • Leocdc

    I really don’t care that much about the “game”. What really amazes me is that a Spanish director, who made one of the few great horror movies from the last decade (“El Orfanato”), received the opportunity to make a movie on English language, with no lesser budget, and two stellar actors, and now is being known as a possible contender on the most important categories on Oscars. I find that incredible, and very interesting, more considering that this looks like one of those movies that all people end up loving and having teared-eyes after walking out the cinema. I’m happy for J.A. Bayona, and his talented skills as director.
    I hope this be the surprise we have been waiting for this season.

  • d2

    “a Spanish director, who made one of the few great horror movies from the last decade (“El Orfanato”), received the opportunity to make a movie on English language, with no lesser budget, and two stellar actors, and now is being known as a possible contender on the most important categories on Oscars”

    Much like Tomas Alfredson, save for the nationality and the fact that he had a whole roster of great actors in TTSS

  • Casey

    Good for Angelina!

  • Genadijus

    Naomi Watts becomes the biggest threat for Jennifer. I’m not counting so much on Jessica Chastain… Best Actress race becomes realy interesting.

  • Julia

    Sorry, but “El Orfanato” is a terrible movie.

  • keifer

    Jennifer Lawrence? Deserving, yes. Popular with the public? Certainly. Oscar nomination? Best bet.

    But I don’t think she has it sewn up. I’m not so sure she is that popular with the critics organization, so the next three weeks will be very interesting.

    Naomi Watts, Keira Knightley, Maggie Smith, Jessica Chastain. I think they all have a decent shot.

  • Jerry

    “Naomi Watts becomes the biggest threat for Jennifer. I’m not counting so much on Jessica Chastain” Jessica Chastain is the golden girl of the moment. She is not going to miss out after her banner year. Not as the lead in Bigelow’s film tracking down Osama bin Laden. Would love to see Watts in the mix but I’m 100% sure Chastain is in.

  • Joseph

    Watts is NOT a threat to win. I saw this at TIFF. She’ll be lucky to get nominated. If she does she’ll be 4th or 5th place.

  • AD

    I am not interested at all about this movie and I think that it is a shame that they didn’t use spanish actors and had to resort to make them an English couple, just to sell the movie.

  • rufussondheim

    I wasn’t aware that only certain nationalities can tap into the human experience. Thanks for letting me know.

  • Mel

    You weren’t? Why do you think Hollywood white washes everything?

  • Andre

    Is this the so-called Oscar video clip? Blah.

  • Sam

    I just watched The Impossible, and while I think Watts is great, I don’t think she’s getting the nomination. Actually, she’s about as lead as Samantha Morton was in In America. In my opinion, the movie will not sustain the campaign. The Tsunami sequences are nuts! Amazing…but, the rest of the story is not as compelling….and it is the boy’s story.

  • Sam

    That was stupid…since Morton was nominated in Lead category…but, I never understood why. Watt’s role isn’t a tour de force by any stretch. And, as I said, not the central focus. The Tsunami first and then the boy.

  • Numil

    This could be a big boost to the film! Remember when Julia Roberts publicly campaigned for Javier Bardem for Biutiful, he got the nomination!

  • Yeah, I saw The Impossible at TIFF too. Found it to be profoundly moving on a basic human level, but lots of critics saw it as over the top sentimentality. The visual effects deserve an Oscar nomination because the Tsunami scene is one of the best (and most horrifying) of the year. I still think that lots of voters will feel safely detached and not emotional connected enough to the story to vote for it over their own history (Lincoln, Argo, ZD30) or sweeping classics (Les Miserables).

    Thank God that Guy Lodge is talking about McGreggor though. He’s way better than Watts in the film and seriously deserves a Sup. Actor nomination.

  • John

    I feel like The Impossible is under the radar because – despite buzz, reviews, and box office – it’s got Watts, Mcgregor, and a relatively unknown crafts team. None of those 3 things I mentioned are automatically in the AMPAS wheelhouse.

  • sandy

    Angelina Jolie is a Mediocre Actress and is a Horrible Director.

  • steandric

    “Naomi Watts is one of our acting treasures.”

    Mark Ruffalo on Naomi Watts in ‘The Impossible’
    SAG Preview: Actors on Actors – Ruffalo on Watts

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