Oscar Beat TIFF 2013: Darkly Comic AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Offers Up Multiple Awards-Worthy Performances

     September 10, 2013


With regards to awards prospects, a common theme of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival has been outstanding performances.  Chiwetel Ejiofor is incredible in 12 Years a Slave, Sandra Bullock basically carries the enormous weight of Gravity all by herself, and Kate Winslet’s work in Labor Day is beautifully understated.  Many have been looking forward to director John Wells’ adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County for a while now, but the darkly comic film just premiered at TIFF and not only delivered with a mesmerizing lead performance by Meryl Streep, but the entire ensemble is simply fantastic.

Hit the jump for my rundown of the Oscar prospects for August: Osage County in this special TIFF edition of Oscar Beat.

august-osage-county-julia-robertsThe story finds the women of the Weston family reconvening in their hometown in northeast Oklahoma following a tragedy, and chaos ensues as the bitter, drug addicted matriarch (Meryl Streep) sets out to further damage every single familial relationship she has left.  Adapting a play for the big screen is a very difficult endeavor, and despite capturing the biting wit and darker elements of Letts’ screenplay, director John WellsAugust: Osage County still feels very much like a play.  That’s not exactly a bad thing though, as Streep and Julia Roberts turn in noteworthy lead performances that are buoyed by a truly phenomenal ensemble cast.

Streep is at once hilarious, terrifying, and sad, and she unsurprisingly takes this meaty character and absolutely runs with it.  Roberts does her best work in years as the co-lead of the film, but in the end she’s still overshadowed by Streep’s commanding work.  Margot Martindale, Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, and Benedict Cumberbatch all manage to stand out despite sharing screen time with the deep ensemble, and it’s a testament to Letts’ source material that the characters come across so distinctly.

august-osage-county-meryl-streepStreep appears destined to nab an Academy Award nomination, but her category is tricky.  Early word was that The Weinstein Company might be submitting Streep for Best Supporting Actress so that Roberts could be submitted for Best Actress, even though both Streep and Roberts are absolutely co-leads in this film.  However, GoldDerby.com now reports that The Weinstein Company has changed its mind and will now be submitting Streep for Best Actress and Roberts for Best Supporting Actress.  Regarding the swap, a TWC rep remarked, “who’s strong enough to beat Cate Blanchett?” Obviously that’s Meryl.

Martindale has a very strong shot at landing a Best Supporting Actress nomination considering she does really fine work here and is an incredibly well-liked character actress, but if Streep had gone Supporting that would have hindered Martindale’s chances.  Now it seems likely that Roberts will land a Supporting nod, and Martindale deserves to be acknowledged as well even though she gets a less showy role.  I also expect Tracy Letts to score a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for his wickedly smart and unflinching script.

August: Osage County is very much a performance-driven film, and while Wells’ direction is serviceable, it’s unremarkable.  The film could very well land a Best Picture nomination though, seeing as how the Academy’s acting branch is the largest voting body and Osage County celebrates a great number of talented and well-liked actors and actresses.  Beyond that, I’m not sure the pic has the goods to be a major player in the race.  It will probably be very well-liked by audiences and should nab multiple nominations in the many Oscar precursor ceremonies, but it’s best shots will likely come by way of Streep’s performance or Letts’ screenplay, with Roberts and Martindale as strong possibilities.

Click here to catch up on all of our TIFF coverage thus far, and peruse the rest of the TIFF Oscar Beat articles below:


Around The Web

Latest News

First THE MARTIAN Picture Reveals Matt Damon as Stranded Astronaut Mark Watney

Ridley Scott's adaptation of the Andy Weir novel is due in theaters on November 25th.

ASSASSIN’S CREED and Next BOURNE Movie May Add EX MACHINA’s Alicia Vikander

It looks like she won't star in 'The Circle' opposite Tom Hanks after all.


David Letterman's final 'Top Ten' and yet another enthusiastic 'Mad Max: Fury Road' recommendation also play roles in this week's Top 5.


Disney’s ‘Tomorrowland’ got the win yesterday, but will end up battling ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ for dominance over the long holiday weekend. Meanwhile, the ‘Poltergeist’ reboot opens on target, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ remains strong and ‘Age of Ultron’ gets set to pass $400 million domestic.

ENTOURAGE: Jeremy Piven Talks Returning to Ari, Cameos, and More from the Set

From the set of the film, the actor discusses the difficulty of coming back to the role of Ari, fan reaction to meeting him on the street, and more.

JURASSIC WORLD on Track for $100 Million+ Opening Weekend

The fourth installment in the 'Jurassic Park' franchise is looking to perform similar to 'Man of Steel', but will the movie be any good?

Caption This: MODERN FAMILY’s Luke Needs a Pick Up Line

Also, 'The Flash's' Jesse L. Martin is super sad -- is it because of Luke's woeful lack of game?

A Black and White Version of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Will Be on the Blu-Ray

Plus, watch a "deleted scene" from the movie featuring Patton Oswalt.

Damon Lindelof Talks TOMORROWLAND, Deleted Scenes, the Alternate Ending and More

He also talks about his favorite memory from filming, Easter eggs, what they learned in test screenings, and more.

New BLACK MASS Trailer: Johnny Depp Goes Gangster

Depp plays Whitey Bulger in the crime drama opposite Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, and more.

Page 1 of 3,96212345...102030...Last »