It's still months away from the true kickoff of the Oscar race, but following the debut of Foxcatcher at Cannes, it looks like there is now at least one horse competing.
It's unsurprising that Foxcatcher wowed audiences the way it did. The film about eccentric, murderous multimillionaire and wrestling enthusiast John du Pont, comes from Bennett Miller who had success with Capote and Moneyball. Even though Foxcatcher was pushed out of the 2013 Oscar field, there was no sense that anything was awry, and nothing apparently is. Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian calls it a "gripping film: horrible, scary and desperately sad."
Though the movie itself is receiving excellent reviews, the loudest Oscar buzz concerns Steve Carell, making a dramatic and prosthetic-laden turn as du Pont. A Variety headline blares today that Carell is an "Oscar lock," with Ramin Setoodeh writing: "It’s not just the physical transformation that’s so impressive. He seems to be living the character from inside his bones. Carell interprets du Pont as a modern-day Norman Bates mixed with Jay Gatsby, and he prepared for the part by studying hours of footage of the real man." Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy says that "from the beginning, you can’t take your eyes off of Carell; as if by some secret alchemy, the actor makes you believe that his character is an entirely uncharismatic man while delivering a completely charismatic performance." During a press conference, a journalist compared Carell's performance to Philip Seymour Hoffman's in Miller's Capote, Vanity Fair reported.
But Carell isn't the only performer in the movie getting Oscar notices. Kyle Buchanan—who called 12 Years a Slave's win last year way back at the Toronto Film Festival—highlighted the work of Channing Tatum, who plays Mark Schultz, the wrestler du Pont takes under his wing. "It wasn't clear until today just how throughly integral Tatum is to the film, and how much of himself Tatum pours into his role: When upset, the miserable Mark has an inclination for self-harm — he'll punch his own face over and over, or smash a mirror with his forehead — and Tatum is so committed to those scenes that he left the audience fearful not just for Mark's well-being, but for his own," Buchanan writes.
"When awards season starts to get underway, let's hope we find him in the thick of the Best Actor derby right alongside his flashy co-star Carell."
Of course, sometimes being the toast of Cannes does not equal Oscar success—sorry, Llewyn—and there is a ways to go before we get to the Dolby, but consider Foxcatcher an integral part of the conversation, starting now. The movie opens November 14. Watch a teaser here: