By Edward Davis | The Playlist October 24, 2013 at 4:30PM
“Grace Of Monaco”
Nicole Kidman starring in a biopic of Grace Kelly as directed by Olivier Dahan who took Marion Cotillard to Oscar gold in her terrific lead performance for “La Vie en Rose"—smells like Oscar-bait all the way, no? But, maybe not so much. The ruthless Harvey Weinstein doesn’t want to overspend on something he doesn’t have to during the awards season and he’s pushed the movie into the spring of 2014 which suggests it’s a good indie-drama, but perhaps not simmering Oscar material. What’s more, he’s currently fighting with the director over the final cut. Dahan recently publicly cried about Harvey’s scissorhands and called the studio mogul’s changes and suggestions a “piece of shit.” Regardless of whatever version hits screens, compromised or otherwise, it appears that Weinstein has no Oscar confidence in the movie and if he did, he would have found a way to release it, pronto. Plus with a final cut still needing to be negotiated, the movie will need further time to finally coalesce, so spring obviously gives a few more months of breathing room (we’ll surely hear of more drama) and time enough for both parties to hopefully compromise. TWC will instead put their Oscar eggs in the basket of “Philomena,” “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom," "Fruitvale Station" and “Lee Daniels' The Butler” basket (which is why the myriad movies TWC bought at TIFF are being held for next year).
These last two films were never guaranteed for a 2013 release, but they’ve come up in conversation often, we thought they're worth discussing. So, why was James Gray’s “The Immigrant” held for next year? For one, what the film is on paper is different from what the film is in practice. Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Company bought the film back in Cannes 2012, because Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner in a James Gray-directed drama smells like Oscars to Harvey. And hell, to be fair, that does smell and sound like Oscar bait to anyone. But Gray’s films are never traditional dramas anyhow, at certainly not in the expected Oscar season mold. They’re often tragedies, trafficking in moral compromises and corrosion. And Gray’s movie while being quite good—a slow-burning period drama about redemption that’s reverse engineered to have an emotionally resonant climax—just doesn’t have the kind of scene-chewing acting sparks that Oscar season loves. It’s a subtle, restrained film with an elegant melodrama to it that’s not melodramatic. Set for an spring 2014 release by Radius-TWC, The Weinstein Company’s VOD arm, the movie will hit theatrically and VOD likely around the same time in April. While that’s not the prestigious Oscar season, spring in general is becoming a terrific season for quality indie movies (think “Frances Ha,” "Mud," “The Place Beyond the Pines,” “Spring Breakers” and more) so really, the lovely drama will be right at home during that slot.
This high-concept sci-fi thriller by South Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho was never going to be an Oscar-film, let’s get that out of the way now, but lots of people were hoping it was going to hit this fall regardless. In truth, when The Weinstein Company bought the U.S. rights to the film ages ago, they pegged it for a summer 2013 release, but that was almost a year before it was complete. Starring Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Go Ah-sung, Jamie Bell, Ewen Bremner, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, and Ed Harris, the movie has a terrific international cast, but it always smelled too smart for summer tentpole season. This is a film that feels like it will fit perfectly during March—the pre-tentpole season that has been home to movies like “The Hunger Games,” “Wrath of the Titans," “Oz the Great and Powerful” and “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.” And it also kind of feels like “Elysium,” a would-be smart sci-fi film that was originally pegged for a March release, but was bumped into August because of studio release date horse trading (it was completed and ready to go in March).
Then there’s the fact that Harvey Weinstein obviously doesn’t wholeheartedly love it. At least not the director’s cut and he’s planning a version that’s rumored to be 20 minutes shorter and apparently easier on American audiences (and yes, he had final cut in the first place, which was part of his deal when he bought it, but note the director’s cut is being released in many non-TWC claimed territories internationally). So what’s the deal? Well, at this point Harvey’s probably working with Bong Joon-ho on the edit, but to be honest, he probably doesn’t really care about the bad press. He's been through this before, and the average audience member isn't paying attention to the interwebs noise from genre fans anyway, so to them it won't make much difference. And as for a release date, once he’s done with focusing his energies on the 2013 Oscar season, he can then probably determine what’s the best season for “Snowpiercer.” Until then, we’ll wait and see what ultimate fate awaits the film but here's a new poster.