Surveying the Best Picture field with the 2013-2014 Oscar season on the way
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Release date: Sept. 20 (Limited)
Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Daniel Bruhl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Christian McKay
Pros: The last time Ron Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan collaborated, the result was “Frost/Nixon” – a film that scored five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, despite it appearing to be nobody’s favorite film of the year. “Rush” could score top nods on similar grounds: another film about fractious male rivalry, it’s solid rather than spectacular, and the same goes for the reviews, but its combination of 1970s nostalgia and Morgan’s patented factional seriousness could appeal to much the same voting bloc, much of it British.
Cons: “Frost/Nixon” fell at least partly into the presidential-biopic column, giving it automatic gravitas for many Academy members – but will they know or care as much about racing-car drivers from the same era? Formula 1 has less of a following Stateside than it does elsewhere, and as much as Morgan’s script tries to universalize the protagonists’ struggles, that obviously curbs its appeal to US audiences and Oscar voters alike.