It’s been a little bit since we got an update on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the upcoming Harry Potter spinoff based on J.K. Rowling’s fictional text. Last we heard, David Yates is directing the first film in the planned Fantastic Beasts trilogy, but that was months ago. Today finally brings an update on the new franchise, as recent Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne is reportedly the frontrunner to take the leading role in the film.
This year’s Best Actor Oscar race was incredibly tight, offering five nominees who delivered absolutely fantastic performances in some of the year’s best and most acclaimed films. The race is now over, as Eddie Redmayne has won the 2015 Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in The Theory of Everything.
You may or may not have noticed, but there’s an invasion afoot in Hollywood, and many of this past year’s most talked-about stars during awards season have been—gasp!—British. To celebrate the amazing performances delivered by these fine actors, Vanity Fair has delivered a three-part vintage-style short film, in which Keira Knightley, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch and basically every other beloved Brit actor invade Hollywood to recreate some of our most classic moments in film.
Episode 415 of ‘Seinfeld’ was called “The Movie,” and it ended with Jerry delivering a monologue about the guy in every group of friends who can’t follow the plots of films and invariably spends them whispering confused questions to their seatmates (“Why did they kill that guy? I thought he was with them? Wasn't he with them? Why would they kill him if he was with them? Oh, he wasn't with them. It's a good thing they killed him!”) ‘Jupiter Ascending’ turned me into that guy. If you can explain the plot of this baffling movie in all of its intricacies, you are either a genius or one of the Wachowskis who wrote and directed it. It’s hard to believe that a movie that contains this much exposition could also be this confusing, but it does and it is. Something went horribly wrong here.
It’s not surprising that the BBC made a little-known (at least to North American audiences) Stephen Hawking biopic back in 2004. This transforms into slightly interesting trivia when you realize that ‘Hawking’ stars a pre-fame Benedict Cumberbatch as the renowned theoretical physicist. However, it edges into wacky “Holy s--t!” territory when you realize that the Discovery Channel is going to re-air the film this Sunday. The same day as the Golden Globes. Where Eddie Redmayne is nominated for playing Hawking in ‘The Theory of Everything.’ And where his chief rival is Cumberbatch, nominated for playing another British genius in ‘The Imitation Game.’
There’s a special sensibility that James Marsh brings as the director of ‘The Theory of Everything,’ which, I suspect, has a lot to do with his success as a documentary filmmaker. Marsh won an Oscar for directing ‘Man on Wire’ – a documentary detailing Philippe Petit’s high-wire walk between the two World Trade Center towers – and now he’s back on everyone’s awards radar with his Stephen Hawking biopic, ‘The Theory of Everything.’
It’s a strange thing, admiring an actor’s ability to physically act out a part when the role in question has that actor almost entirely immobilized. And what Eddie Redmayne does in portraying Stephen Hawking in 'The Theory of Everything' is physical – what Redmayne conveys and accomplishes with basically just limited facial expressions is truly remarkable. But that’s the thing: who looks at Stephen Hawking and thinks to themselves, Yeah, I could successfully portray this man in a movie?
Felicity Jones in ‘The Theory of Everything’ is a revelation of sorts. Think about how many times a biopic has been done and the lead female character is written off in reviews as “So and so was great in a thankless role.” Ignoring the cliché of the word “thankless,” that’s almost become a trope in movies like this: The “thankless” role for a woman. But, that’s what’s so fascinating about Jones in ‘The Theory of Everything,’ not only is she Great with a capital G playing the role of Stephen Hawking’s first wife, Jane Hawking, an argument could also be made that Jones is the true lead of this movie. Put another way: There are a lot of thanks to go around.
The Oscar race is beginning to take shape, as more and more awards hopefuls make the rounds at film festivals. With press already shouting Eddie Redmayne's praises for his performance as Stephen Hawking in 'The Theory of Everything,' and the film's latest trailer debut, it looks like we have a frontrunner for Best Actor.
This is why awards season is stupid. (Full disclosure: I kind of like awards season sometimes, but it is stupid.) We can’t live in a world in which the media can see ‘The Theory of Everything’ or ‘The Imitation Game’ and just say, “That was a good movie,” then move on with our lives. No, it will be the battle for Best Actor between Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking and Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing.