The early part of awards season is a demonstration in how fad-driven we are. Every time a new film trailer lands it instantly becomes an Oscar contender until the next new film trailer lands, and so on until we’ve seen every trailer and every film and make common assertions on the best and worst.
There is a reason why Silence is still to be heard. There’s a reason The Founder has not yet made its way forward and, until now, that was why Lion had not yet roared with critics. But Harvey Weinstein is back, and he will not back down this year without a big fight.
Lion takes an Oscar nominated cast led by Dev Patel, a feel good story about a boy understanding who he is and the Indian landscape, which has definitely won the Academy over before. And let’s face it, Dev Patel travelling through India in pursuit of happiness sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it? Though at the Toronto International Film Festival, the star has emphasised the difference to Slumdog Millionair, it may not be a terrible thing and Big Harv knows it.
On that note, Harvey Weinstein’s crown as King of the Oscars has been substantially challenged in the past five years, with no big hitters since The Artist. The rulebook which he practically wrote is becoming old hat and he has struggled to follow campaign changes as well as champion them. Nothing much has changed with Lion – November release, typical promotional strategy, big cast – but the crucial difference is people are talking more about the movie than the man behind it.
Harvey Weinstein has a self-inflicted stigma, blighted by his own success, and this can drive a lot of voters in other directions. A tick for Weinstein is a tick for the expected, a sign that you have somehow been duped by the campaign machine.
Lion gives voters a real reason to get behind it, and following a surge of positive reviews following its Toronto screening, this potential contender has put itself on centre stage. With that comes greater expectation but also the publicity, particularly the talk of it in relation to the Oscars, which can take it all the way to the nominations.
But we are fickle.
We are yet to see The Founder. We are yet to see Silence. We are still over five months away from the Oscars. Anything can happen.