By John H. Foote
Warner Brothers announced today that the new Clint Eastwood film The Mule will be released in December.
In the past, an Eastwood release in December could mean Oscar. Never forget that Million Dollar Baby (2004) was a late December release and snatched the Oscar from The Aviator (2004) and Martin Scorsese. American Sniper (2014) was also a December release and beyond being Eastwood’s biggest hit was an Oscar nominee for Best Picture.
The Mule features Eastwood, who also directed the film, as a senior citizen who volunteers to be a drug mule. Bradley Cooper co-stars with Eastwood, their first film together since American Sniper (2014).
Does this shake up the Oscar race?
Eastwood must be taken seriously when the studio gives his film a plum release in the middle of Oscar season. Remember they have seen the film already. If it is strong, expect Eastwood to be a Best Actor and Best Director contender.
The only things against him are his last few films, The 15:17 to Paris (2018), Sully (2016) and Jersey Boys (2014) did not do very well with critics. Tom Hanks deserved a Best Actor nomination for Sully (2016) but it did not happen.
The Academy, historically adores Eastwood, twice honouring him with Best Picture and Best Director for Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004) as well as nominations for Mystic River (2003), Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) and a Best Picture but not Director nod for American Sniper (2014). That said, the recent snubs could be saying he has won enough.
I think if his performance is strong the Academy would love to award him an Oscar for Best Actor, but truly, no one really knows.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.