The Fighter was to have a small-ish screening here in LA with lots of Oscar bloggers and critics, presumably, in attendance. But they decided instead to take it the AFI Fest as the surprise screening last night at 9:30pm (which excludes a single mom like myself from attending). A few of the responses have been enthusiastic, like this one from InContention’s Kris Tapley:
Amy Adams offers a tough performance of steel-eyed sincerity that is probably my favorite of the two supporting actress portrayals, but nevertheless, I think it‚Äôs safe to say both have clear shots at nominations.
The star of the show, however, might well walk away with the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor this year. Christian Bale is mercilessly precise, committed and authentic as Ward‚Äôs crack-addicted half-brother, Dickie Eklund, a former next-big-thing boxer who blew his chances and lives life vicariously through Ward. The film mostly concerns itself with that sibling relationship and finds its most profound notes of grace therein, and Bale is really something to behold throughout.
I‚Äôd say we‚Äôre looking at a solid contender for a Best Picture nomination. The film played like gangbusters and I‚Äôve heard from numerous critical minds responding likewise, so erase all doubt. ‚ÄúThe Fighter‚Äù is here to play, and what a coup for Paramount to have this dual reveal to the populace and industry alike. It was smart to eschew the typical festival strategy. This is a film meant to hit and hit big.
More reactions after the cut.
Indiewire and Thompson on Hollywood’s Anne Thompson is also positive but slightly more guarded:
Will the movie make the best picture top ten? If all goes right (reviews/box office/critics and guild prizes) it‚Äôs possible. The actors shine in this and should be rewarded.
Mandeville produced, Relativity financed the film with Weinstein Co. repping foreign sales; distributor Paramount came in for a few territories after production. Wahlberg brought in Russell, who he worked with on Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees, Russell‚Äôs last film in 2004. The movie opens December 10.
Deadline’s Pete Hammond doesn’t say for sure either way about Best Picture – but says this about the actors — Wahlberg, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams, “All have real shots for this vivid and colorful crowd pleaser.”
Although it could be classified as a boxing picture, it‚Äôs really a character study of two very different brothers and spends much of its time defining that rocky relationship. Actors playing boxers have had a pretty good track record right from the beginning of the Academy Awards with winners like Wallace Beery in 1931‚Äôs The Champ to Robert DeNiro as Jake LaMotta in 1980‚Äôs Raging Bull. Those nominated for stepping into the ring include Kirk Douglas in Champion (1949), Sylvester Stallone in Rocky(1976), James Earl Jones in The Great White Hope(1970), and John Garfield in Body And Soul (1947) to name a few.
With The Fighter now finally unveiled for the masses and press screenings starting this week on both coasts, there are very few mysteries left in the season. Par‚Äôs other holiday entry, the Coen‚Äôs True Grit (Dec 22) is still to be seen and ¬†just about the last of ‚Äòem that could provide fresh Oscar meat, at least in the major categories. Otherwise the lineup is fairly clear with no surprises on the horizon ‚Äì unless Yogi Bear (Dec 17) is better than anyone dreamed.
As for Yours Truly, I’m still scheduled for the screening tonight, if all goes well, I will be there with bells on. I can say this about The Fighter, though — its place in the predicted top ten has been held, I figure. So it didn’t have to do much to be in there – it just didn’t have to suck. That it turns out it might be a huge crowdpleaser and money maker makes it much more probable it is in. On the other hand, I’m going to say that will need either major bank, or else the critics on its side to do so. This is why, with the Oscar race, you can never count your chickens until they start laying eggs for the general public. However, it’s looking mighty strong right about now.