Oscar-teasing trailers are just like Oscar bait movies: they all come out at the same time. Can't there be a little breathing room? After Captain Phillips warned us that Tom Hanks (and Paul Greengrass) are ready to come roaring back... After Gravity teased us with visual effects so terrifying that the prospect of Sandra Bullock acting out existential despair (not something she's known for you must admit) already seems like The Must Event of the Year... After The Butler threw a Handful of Presidents & First Ladies , Oscar Winners, Ten History Lessons, and OpPRRRrraaAAHHHh in one trailer pot and stirred itself into an Oscar Bait Frenzy (or Parody)... came The Weinstein Co's major player: AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY.
The film stars 3 Oscar winners (Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper), 3 nominees (Juliette Lewis, Sam Shepard, Abigail Breslin), 1 underappreciated awesome fellow (Ewan McGregor), 1 recent Emmy winner (Martindale), 1 rising star Benedict Cumberbatch, 1 curiously resurgent Dermot Mulroney and 1 Misty Upham from Frozen River... so you know FYC ads will have to be five page spreads. The Hollywood Reporter's already counting the ad dollars because that's a lot of names to push. [more after the jump]
If you've been reading The Film Experience faithfully you know that I'm a huge fan of Tracy Letts (see his plays first chance you get!) and that I found this particular play just riveting and sublime on Broadway. But what of the trailer? Let's break it down...
Is anybody S'POSED to smoke?!"
- Meryl Streep's fourth Oscar? I wanna be there for that if/when it happens!
- The source material is just masterful and gripping with killer dialogue and at least a couple of moments which arrive with true seismic force. It's tough to shake when it's directed and acted well.
- Familial dramas that people actually feel excited about are in short supply in our comic-book world so we'd have to support this even if we didn't already love the play.
- George Clooney & Grant Henslov and Jean Doumanian, just a few of the producers, regularly shepherd quality films for adults into the multiplexes
- "Is anybody supposed to smoke" is a great line reading from Meryl -- and her character Violet Weston has plenty of funny/bitchy lines in the play -- and as per usual her chameleonic skills are in ample evidence despite this very brief peek. At least we get a taste of the voice choices: throaty, lower, and sardonic...
- Meryl Streep's fourth Oscar? If it happens so soon after snatching Viola's away and she's anything less than absolutely worthy it might be rough-going on Oscar blogs and forums all season
- Benedict Cumberbatch's big moment looks a little bit like SELF-CONSCIOUSLY BIG OSCAR CLIP out of context. I'm not sure it's that flattering in the generally light tone the trailer has gone for but I'll admit I didn't much care for "Little Charles" in the stage show either.
- Now, I don't want them to give away the best moments or anything but the trailer does seem curiously lacking in any specific hook to watch it beyond its list of heavyweight actors...
- ...though "heavyweight" is a generous term since one could argue that this cast-list veritably screams 'Mid 90s Production!' ...and here we are in 2013.
- There's nothing particularly delicious or interesting or even moving about the images and very very brief snippets we're shown here. It feels like you could have just skimmed the future DVD and taken lines out at random. As a trailer, it has very little in the way of "shape" or style. Will the movie also feel haphazard?
- We get only one real undistinguishing shot of the house and the house COULD be a great character in the movie as it is on the stage. But if I know modern non-auteur directors the whole movie will be shot in closeup and we'll miss the chance to really understand this as a home where multiple vivid characters have shared the same oxygen and painful history.
- But mostly, I thought John Wells didn't show much promise at all as a director in Company Man. I don't mean to be rude but what the hell did he do to deserve this big of a get for his second feature? You'd think the biggest name directors in the world would've wanted it.
- Meryl Streep's fourth Oscar? We can't wait to judge whether or not she's worthy... that's half the fun of Oscar-watching
- Listen, I have a bad memory for details of movies and plays if I haven't seen them recently and curiously very few specific moments from the play sprang back into my mind while watching this trailer. I wonder how faithful it is? I worry that's it's too faithful (different mediums need different things, as Tim was just reminding us with Gatsby)
- I feel bad for Julianne Nicholson who doesn't get a title card despite being in a lot of clips and Misty Upham who I don't think we see at all! Also bereft of title cards: Benedict & Margo
- I've never been entirely crazy about the casting of this movie -- as great as Margot Martindale sometimes is, she's also very expected... she's at the exact point in her career where she'd be the person you'd cast for this. But I realize this is also just me having trouble letting go of my dream cast. I so badly wanted someone to give Kathleen Turner a comeback shot and she would've been so perfect for that role. I wanted Laura Linney for Julia's role. Etcetera. Which is a long way of saying...
- Regardless of how famous the cast is and how great the play is, the success of this artistically will entirely depend on the execution, the chemistry, and the choices in direction and screenwriting and we can't truly know any of that from a 2 minute trailer. I wish them all the best of luck because I hope this is great great great.
And here's the trailer on the off chance you haven't yet watched it three times (or would like to see it for a fourth):
If I know the TFE crowd well, you're already a yes. As am I even if it's terrible. But I can't say that if I wasn't already attached that this trailer would've sold me on it as a must-see. So are you a Yes, No or Maybe So when it comes to the individual players? Break it down for us in the comments.