Who will be left standing by...August?
“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
Director: Justin Chadwick
Stars: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Gys de Villiers
Release Date: TBD
Festival Speculation: Venice, Telluride, Toronto
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Why: Three years ago, Morgan Freeman nabbed an Oscar nomination for playing South Africa's first democratically elected president in Clint Eastwood's turgid “Invictus,” but the film otherwise ailed to fulfill most pundits' sight-unseen awards expectations. You may wonder how relatively undistinguished British director Justin Chadwick (“The Other Boleyn Girl,” “The First Grader”) can expect to succeed where Eastwood failed, particularly with an ambitious project that bites off the great man's entire life story, based as it is on Mandela's bestselling 1995 autobiography. Idris Elba, fine actor that he is, isn't the first name you'd think of to play Mandela, but as his wife Winnie, newly-minted Miss Moneypenny Naomie Harris shouldn't find it too hard to clear the bar set by Jennifer Hudson two years ago in the still-unreleased “Winnie.” Add Bille August's justly forgotten “Goodbye Bafana” to the mix, and it's clear the Mandela legend is a tough one to put to screen, but the Weinsteins obviously believe in this one.
- Guy Lodge