Michael Hoffman's "The Last Station," a drama chronicling the final months in the life of Leo Tolstoy, found a lot of support after its debut at the Telluride Film Festival, but it didn't get the same amount of buzz that films that also hit up Venice and/or Toronto did. The period piece does have it's supporters, however, and now it appears an Awards-qualifying run is in the works. Longtime and respected Envelope Oscar pundit Pete Hammond reports that an unnamed specialty division will distribute the picture in limited release this December and ride possible awards buzz for stars Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer (as Tolstoy), Paul Giamatti and James McAvoy into wider release in 2010.
It's unclear who will distribute "Station," a deal hasn't formally been announced, but Sony Pictures Classics and Apparition would seem the likely suitors even with their already packed holiday schedules. The only question mark on the picture is director Michael Hoffman, whose track record doesn't necessarily shine with excellence. "Restoration," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "The Emperor's Club," etc. are all pretty uninspired but well constructed Oscar bait films. "Station" seems intriguing, but more people need to see it than those in the the thin air of Colorado before it's taken very seriously.
Speaking of December releases, Overture Films can now officially wipe the sweat off their brow and take a sigh of relief as the battle between George Clooney prestige pics just became a little less intense.
Overture's "Men Who Stare At Goats" has been slotted to open nationwide on Nov. 6. Paramount was considering releasing "Up in the Air" on Nov. 13 with a gradual rollout through Nov. Now, cooler heads have prevailed and "Air" will now officially open in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 4. The studio expects it to be close to nationwide by Christmas.
Clooney shines in both "Goats" and "Air," but it's certainly not in his best interest for both films to cannibalize their box office prospects. The former Oscar winner is a candidate for a best actor nomination for "Air" and a best supporting nod for "Goats." If both do well, it will only help his cause and we're not just talking for awards season. Considering that many still remember how badly "Leatherheads" did at the box office ("Burn After Reading's" success was attributed to the combo of him and co-star Brad Pitt), two solid hits in a row will give him the clout to continue to make unconventional flicks just like...you guessed it..."Goats" and "Air." Oh, and did we mention Clooney lends his voice to the title character of "The Fantastic Mr. Fox"? Yep, the man keeps busy.
In other news, we warned you that the Hollywood Film Festival was going to be handing out more, um, "awards" and we can now officially confirm Sony Pictures and Paramount Pictures will have premier tables at the Oct. 26 show! This week's announced winners are:
Hollywood Director Award: Kathryn Bigelow, "The Hurt Locker" (Deserved!)
Hollywood Animation Award: Peter Doctor, director of "Up" (Debatable!)
Hollywood Screenwriter Award: Nora Ephron, "Julie & Julia" (Eh, she's still not forgiven for "You've Got Mail" in our book)
Hollywood Visual Effects Awards: Scott Farrar, visual effects supervisor of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" (even the CG community is like, "Really? The Hollywood Awards?")
Ah, the excitement of fake awards shows. You can just taste the excitement (or at least the bland Beverly Hills Hotel chicken).
For constant updates on awards season and entertainment news follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter at Twitter.com/HitFixGregory