The Year’s First Oscar Contender Just Premiered at Cannes

The buzz out of Cannes, France this morning is all about Foxcatcher, the Bennett Miller-directed true story starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. We’re months away from true Oscar season, but it looks like we already have our first contender.

Foxcatcher was originally slated for a release last fall, but Sony Pictures Classics delayed it until this year, ostensibly realizing that there was no room in what was essentially a three-way race between Gravity, American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave. Now, it appears to be Foxcatcher’s time, as the film is receiving raves following its premiere this morning at Cannes Film Festival. Variety’s review, posted online almost immediately following the film’s premiere, calls it a “model of bleak, bruising, furiously concentrated storytelling, anchored by exceptional performances from Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and an almost unrecognizable Steve Carell.”

Foxcatcher is the story of John du Pont, played by Carell, who paid for aspiring Olympic wrestlers to train at his family farm in the 1990s until he was sent to jail for murder in 1997. It is his prosthetics-heavy performance that is receiving the most notice. Vanity Fair notes that at the screening, one journalist compared Carell’s performance to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Oscar-winning turn as Truman Capote in Capote, also directed by Miller. In The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy writes that “from the beginning, you can’t take your eyes off of Carell; as if by some secret alchemy, the actor makes you believe that his character is an entirely uncharismatic man while delivering a completely charismatic performance.” A separate Variety article calls Carell an “Oscar lock.”

In addition to a strong performance, a potential comedian-turned-dramatic actor storyline bodes well for Carell. But it’s not only Carell’s performance that’s receiving high marks. The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin foretells that we must “prepare … for a world in which the phrase ‘Academy Award-nominee Channing Tatum’ exists” while HitFix’s Guy Lodge calls Tatum “entirely wrenching” and credits Ruffalo with the film’s best scene.

Granted, charming Cannes does not always translate to Oscar victory. Last year’s most well-received (American) films were Gravity, which went on to win seven Academy Awards, and Inside Llewyn Davis, which received only two nominations and zero wins. But regardless of what happens, this is an excellent start for Foxcatcher and now it seems, Oscar season is at our doorstep. Like presidential campaigns, it starts earlier every year. Foxcatcher is out November 14.