'Philomena': An Oscar deep dive
Release Date: Nov. 22, 2013 (limited)
DVD Release: Unknown
Run Time: 98 minutes
Box Office: $33.7 million domestic; $51.6 million foreign
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92 percent fresh
Movie Math: (The Handmaid’s Tale minus the dystopia) + The Catholic Church x (The Trip minus the impressions) x (Driving Miss Daisy minus Morgan Freeman) divided by Philadelphia.
Tweetable Description: Sweet, old Irish lady and arrogant journalist team up to find her long-lost son, taken from her by evil nuns. Tears ensue.
What Chris Nashawaty Said: “The class differences between the old biddy who devours bodice-ripping novels and the T.S. Eliot-quoting Oxford atheist are laid on a bit thick. But [Judi] Dench and [Steve] Coogan’s chemistry is undeniably great. In the end, he manages to give her the answers she seeks and she manages to give him a heart.”
Number of Oscar Nods: The film is up for four awards — aside from Best Picture, Dench is nominated for Best Actress, while Alexandre Desplat is nominated for Best Original Score, and Coogan and Jeff Pope earned a nod for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Its Oscar History: Dench has seven nominations, and one win — for her turn as the formidable Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love. Desplat has six nods in the original score category, but no trophies yet. This is the first nomination for Coogan and Pope, while Coogan also shares his first Best Picture nomination with Gabrielle Tanna. The third producer of the film, Tracey Seaward has one other nod — Best Picture for The Queen. And although not nominated for Philomena, director Stephan Frears has two nods under his belt — Best Director for The Queen and The Grifters. Mare Winningham, who plays a small role in the film, was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1996 for Georgia.
What Is Has Won Thus Far: The biggest win for Philomena this season was the BAFTA for Best Screenplay, along with several Venice Film Festival awards.
Why It Should Win: It’s the “smallest” of the films — lacking even Nebraska‘s quirky black and white cinematography. And yet it leaves a mark on its audience through Dench and Coogan’s powerful performances.
Why It Shouldn’t Win: Maybe if it were set in space and featured Leonardo DiCaprio snorting cocaine off of a hooker, Philomena would have a shot. But amidst the historical significance of 12 Years a Slave, the breathtaking scope of Gravity, and the delightful pomp of American Hustle, a little movie about the injustice of the Catholic church against one woman doesn’t stand a chance.
Vegas Odds: 200/1, according to Las Vegas Sports Betting
Best Line: “Thing is, I didn’t even know I had a clitoris, Martin.” (It’s all in Dench’s delivery.)
Worst Line: “Because I think if Jesus was here right now he’d tip you out of that f–king wheelchair — and you wouldn’t get up and walk.”