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The Messenger: Oscar Contender?

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 17, 2009 at 8:10AM

Rookie director Oren Moverman's The Messenger faces the same obstacle in the fall awards season as the Michelle Monaghan star vehicle Trucker. It's one of many marginal outsider films that has to get seen before it has a chance. The movie is a stark portrait of two soldiers (Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster) who have to deliver news to families that their loved ones have died in Iraq. Not only do they have to handle their assignment delicately, but they must also absorb the shock, pain and grief of the bereaved.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Rookie director Oren Moverman's The Messenger faces the same obstacle in the fall awards season as the Michelle Monaghan star vehicle Trucker. It's one of many marginal outsider films that has to get seen before it has a chance. The movie is a stark portrait of two soldiers (Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster) who have to deliver news to families that their loved ones have died in Iraq. Not only do they have to handle their assignment delicately, but they must also absorb the shock, pain and grief of the bereaved.

Harrelson is having a very good year; he's also terrific in a very different comedic role in Zombieland. Foster, who impressed in Six Feet Under and 3:10 to Yuma, shows chops I had never seen before. Steve Buscemi and Samantha Morton also offer standout performances.

Micro-indie Oscilloscope, which plucked the movie off the fest circuit after Sundance, opens the movie limited on November 13. Last year, awards buzz for Michelle Williams in O-scope's Wendy and Lucy helped to propel the movie further than it might otherwise have gone. But Williams wound up with an Indie Spirit nomination. That may be the award ceremony that Monaghan, Foster and Harrelson also wind up attending.

The trailer for The Messenger is on the jump.

This article is related to: Awards, Independents, Video, Oscars, Indie Spirits, Trailers


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.