It's only May 19, but with the world premiere of "Foxcatcher" having occurred at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival on Monday, Oscar season has started its all-encompassing engines.
"Foxcatcher," which was pushed out of 2013 to allow director Bennett Miller time to finish (and to get the film away from "12 Years A Slave" and "Gravity"), is already being hailed as "an enormous film" and "a superb tragicomedy of the beta-male"; some critics have even compared Miller's film to Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master."
At the center of "Foxcatcher" is Steve Carell. The nominal comic actor plays John E. du Pont in the film, a millionaire who suffered from mental illness and murdered Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo), a gold-medal winning wrestler, in 1996. (Channing Tatum plays Dave's brother, fellow wrestler Mark Schultz, and the film is filtered through his perspective.) It has long been assumed that Carell would be an Oscar contender for the part -- he's almost unrecognizable, thanks to a prosthetic nose and bizarre speaking voice -- and, sure enough, that's the early consensus.
"Steve Carell is an Oscar Lock for ‘Foxcatcher'" is the headline on a Variety piece about the film. "His 'Foxcatcher' role feels like a career game-changer simply because it's so fascinating and brilliantly executed," wrote Vulture's Kyle Buchanan in a piece that also cites Tatum as a possible Oscar nominee in 2015.
Then there's this rave, from Jessica Kiang at Indiewire's The Playlist:
Carell is the revelation that everyone has suggested in the role, and then some: vocally, physically and psychologically he is not just unrecognizable, he simply is a different man, and a man whose tragic flaw (cursed to wield great wealth and influence with no shred of greatness to justify it) is the entire story of this film. It’s seldom we’ve ever witnessed such a total erasure of self in a role, and it deserves to win him everything, everywhere.
"Foxcatcher" is set for release on Nov. 14, so expect to hear a lot about Carell's performance between now and then. It should be noted that Miller's only other feature films as a director are "Capote" and "Moneyball"; both scored best actor nominations.