Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand Bring Joel Coen’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth” to Oscar Race

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The early days of awards season bring buzz and promise, but they also mean it’s time for studios to strategize and think about strike opportunities.

The Toronto International Film Festival presents its prestigious People’s Choice Award to Kenneth Branagh’s filmBelfastThe Focus Features drama has the power to declare itself the best picture favorite for this awards season – but hanging onto the throne won’t be easy.

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Speaking of thrones, Joel Coen’s adaptation of “Macbeth’s tragedy“, his first solo director without his brother Ethan in years, performed like gangbusters on the September 24 opening night of the New York Film Festival.

Confronting William Shakespeare is always a daunting task, with some successful films (like Branagh’s “Hamlet” in 1996 or the 1996 version of Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet”) and others less (e.g. the 2014 take by Michael Almereyda on “Cymbeline”).

Set as a period piece in black and white, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” by A24 and Apple Original Films, can easily find love in artisan categories such as production design (Stefan Dechant and set decorating). by Nancy Haigh), cinematography (Bruno Delbonnel), sound (to be determined) and original score (Carter Burwell). Consumer audiences might not be flocking to theaters on Christmas Day, but the film doesn’t need that kind of narrative to translate into voters.

Denzel Washington Macbeth will be a formidable challenger to Richard Williams of Will Smith in the “King Richard”. It marks a possible rematch at the Oscars, 20 years after Washington’s performance in “Training Day” claimed Smith’s lap victory in “Ali.” It should also be noted that there are already many top men in the mix with Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog”), Clifton Collins, Jr (“Jockey”), Peter Dinklage (“Cyrano”) , Joaquin Phoenix (“C’mon C’mon”) and Simon Rex (“Red Rocket”) are already making some noise – with more possibilities waiting behind the scenes (Javier Bardem, Bradley Cooper, Leonardo DiCaprio, Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield and Cooper Hoffman).

The supporting actors are the film’s brightest point, which is not typical of adaptations of “Macbeth”. Corey Hawkins’ Macduff is passionately grounded in his limited scenes, and he has vengeful words running through his veins throughout. If Washington is a real contender for his third Oscar, someone like Hawkins might join us.

With just 10 movie credits in the past 30 years, Kathryn Hunter’s Witch (and Old Man) is inventively complex and beautifully orchestrated through contortions and piercing dialogue. She could become a critical darling this season (the future NYFCC winner perhaps?), Which could lead to some traction in the supporting actress. In a one-scene wonder, recent Emmy nominee Moses Ingram (“Netflix’s Queen’s Gambit”) Tells Hollywood She’s Not Going Nowhere And Every Producer Should Line Up To Cast Her Roles . This will likely be one that people like me drum up drums for, but most likely they will fail. But we can pray.

Francoise McDormand, who plays Lady Macbeth, made history last year when she became the first woman to be nominated for producing and performing that same year for “Nomadland”, winning her third and fourth Oscars respectively. She could also win two awards for “Macbeth”.

I’ve heard rumors that the studio is considering her for a supporting role this time around, although the role of Lady Macbeth has always been considered a leading role. A source close to the studio shared that the decision to support is highly unlikely and that she will end up competing for the lead actress again. But when voters hear McDormand’s delivery of “Out, damned spot,” they’ll likely do whatever she wants.

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