We've had "The Impossible" -- a true-life survival drama set against the tragedy of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami -- in our Contenders section for a while now, though for whatever reason, it's been languishing in the lower reaches of our category lists. Perhaps it's the question mark of Spanish genre director Juan Antonio Bayona ("The Orphanage") handling his first English-language production. Perhaps it's that Naomi Watts, good actress though she is, has had such a tepid run of recent projects. Perhaps it's that the thought of a film on that tragedy, however indirectly, conjures traumatic memories of Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter."

Or perhaps the film is, as some advance word suggests, is really strong, and could benefit from lying low. Certainly, Summit Entertainment -- who steered "The Hurt Locker" to Oscar glory nearly three years ago -- have high hopes for the Spanish production, and have just positioned it as their prime awards pony with the announcement of a December 21 release date.

Now, as I was just writing, December releases have lately met with mixed fortunes in the Oscar derby, but it's sometimes the relatively unheralded sleepers -- as opposed to the hype-burdened juggernauts -- that benefit most from a late unveiling. If the film can avoid the cod-inspirational pitfalls of its premise -- and Bayona's certainly a counterintuitive name to be handling this premise -- there may be something here. (Less about the "journey to the core of the human heart," please.) Keep an eye on it.

From the press release:

THE IMPOSSIBLE will open on December 21, 2012 in New York and Los Angeles, from Summit Entertainment.

Cast: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland
Director: J.A. Bayona
Screenwriter: Sergio G. Sánchez
Producers: Belén Atienza, Enrique López Lavigne, Álvaro
Production Companies: Apaches Entertainment, Telecinco Cinema
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Country of Origin: Spain

Synopsis:
From Summit Entertainment. A powerful story based on one family's survival of the 2004 tsunami, THE IMPOSSIBLE stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor and is directed by J.A. Bayona (THE ORPHANAGE). Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three sons begin their winter vacation in Thailand, looking forward to a few days in tropical paradise. But on the morning of December 26th, as the family relaxes around the pool after their Christmas festivities the night before, a terrifying roar rises up from the center of the earth. As Maria freezes in fear, a huge wall of black water races across the hotel grounds toward her. Based on a true story, THE IMPOSSIBLE is the unforgettable account of a family caught, with tens of thousands of strangers, in the mayhem of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time. But the true-life terror is tempered by the unexpected displays of compassion, courage and simple kindness that Maria and her family encounter during the darkest hours of their lives. Both epic and intimate, devastating and uplifting, THE IMPOSSIBLE is a journey to the core of the human heart.
 

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