Tim Burton's upcoming Big Eyes is a dramatization of real-life painter Margaret Keane, whose cute/unsettling (classic Burton dyad!) paintings of tiny children with big black-pool eyes were for years passed off as the work of her husband, Walter. With the exception of Sweeney Todd (which had other factors working for it), Tim Burton's movies haven't been Oscar contenders since Ed Wood in 1994. The fact that Big Eyes is being assumed as a pre-sold awards hopeful can be chalked up to a few factors:
- Distribution by The Weinstein Company
- The fact that it's a biopic
- The presence of lead actress Amy Adams
That last one is perhaps the most determining factor. After last year's Oscars, which saw Adams go home empty-handed on her fifth fruitless nomination, "When Will Amy Get Hers?" became an official Oscar subplot. Many people looked immediately to Big Eyes as her next big chance. So now that we've gotten our first look at the trailer, what does it all mean for Amy and possible nomination number six/win number one?
Pro: It manages to look baity without feeling overly heavy. This is the quality that Tim Burton brings, where even his most prestigious films are always at least half silly. This kind of important-but-not-self-important quality worked well for, say, The Iron Lady a few years ago. ("Worked" in that it won Meryl Streep an Oscar. That's basically the only sense in which one could say The Iron Lady worked.)
Pro: Margaret Keane looks like an easy character to root for. Single mom who winds up grasping for deal life onto a husband who ends up taking advantage of her, only to ultimately defy him and stand up for what's hers. Aunts everywhere are already applauding at that climactic courtroom scene.
Con: Christoph Waltz. This is going by an incredibly small sample, but history is history, and when Christoph Waltz ends up in a movie that gets Oscar attention, he's the one who gets the trophy, and his co-stars get squat, even if they're big stars (Brad Pitt; Leo DiCaprio) or giving great performances (Michael Fassbender; Melanie Laurent).
Con: That wig. The last time we had a Best Actress winner with a wig this bad, her name was Sally Field and the movie was Places in the Heart, and we all live in a much different world now. I don't know what kind of mojo Amy thought she'd attain by swiping Michelle Pfeiffer's wig from Love Field; Michelle lost on that nomination too.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.