For Hilary Swank, "Amelia" is a labor of love.
The two-time Oscar winning actress executive produced the biopic of legendary aviator Amelia Earhart and stuck by the production through fits and starts over the years. In fact, Fox Searchlight didn't come on board until a few weeks into filming. But it's not hard to see why.
"Amelia" was directed by Mira Nair who had a sleeper hit with Searchlight's "The Namesake" and has a long resume of excellence with "Monsoon Wedding" and the HBO TV movie "Hysterical Blindness" to her credit. She's recruited a crew with many accolades of their own including composer Gabriel Yared ("The English Patient")and cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh ("The Piano"). The screenplay is by Oscar winner Ronald Bass ("Rain Man") and Anna Hamilton Phelan ("Girl, Interrupted") bringing more prestige to the production. In front of the camera, Richard Gere and Ewan McGregor climbed on board as George P. Putnam and Gene Vidal respectively, the two men in Earhart's life. Both actors are no strangers to awards season having starred in such favorites as "Chicago" and "Moulin Rouge." But, the focus of "Amelia" is clearly Hilary Swank.
Whether the film can make it into the top ten best picture nominees is an excellent question (in theory, it should), but actually its not as intriguing on whether Swank could seriously win a third Oscar. Swank is already on a very short list of multiple winners, but only Ingrid Bergman (three statues), Jack Nicholson (three statues) and Katherine Hepburn (a record four wins) have won more than two. Swank's previous wins also came in roles that either were tremendously unconventional ("Boys Don't Cry") or was a late arrival ("Million Dollar Baby"). "Amelia" is neither. Its clearly a prestige picture (ie, that dirty phrase "Oscar bait") that is hoping to extend its theatrical run with some awards season love. And when Meryl Streep, arguably the greatest living actress of our time, has had an embarrassing number of opportunities to get a third statue and has still come up short, it has to make you wonder whether the nomination would be the win for Swank for this one.
Of course, anyone who knows history already is aware of the film's ending. And unless the filmmakers have a new revelation about Earhart's fate, it will be had to spin the ending into something uplifting (no doubt why it was initially so hard to get a studio behind the film).
Still, "Amelia" is one to watch. Although that wide release date on Oct. 23 should give some awards watcher's pause...
To get your fill on "Amelia", the folks at Fox Searchlight have been kind enough to provide an exclusive new still from the film below featuring Swank and co-star Joe Anderson. Just below that is the film's new poster. And if you haven't caught it yet, the trailer is embedded at the top of the page.
"Amelia" begins it's awards season run on Oct. 23.