Ruth Bader Ginsburg gets the biopic treatment in the On the Basis of Sex trailer, which features Felicity Jones (Rogue One, The Theory of Everything) as the crusading lawyer turned Supreme Court Justice. 2018 is already a big year for RBG at the movies, thanks to directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West's documentary about her life. That film, which is simply titled RBG, hit it off with critics and has even broken into the U.S. box office's top 10 over multiple weekends (despite playing in under 500 theaters).
Written by newcomer Daniel Stiepleman and directed by Mimi Leder, On the Basis of Sex wisely doesn't attempt to beat RBG the documentary at its own game and instead winds the clock back to early in Ginsburg's career, at a time when she was a lawyer working on a landmark gender discrimination case before the U.S. Court of Appeals. Armie Hammer costars in the film as Ginburg's husband Martin, with Kathy Bates playing activist Dorothy Kenyon. Callum Shoniker and Cailee Spaeny (Pacific Rim Uprising) round out the main ensemble as Ginsburg's son James and daughter Jane.
As one might expect, Focus Features and Participant Media's trailer for On the Basis of Sex paints the memoir in broad awards season-friendly strokes, as a way of planting its flag in the sand for the next Oscar race. The studios only just moved the film's arrival date back to Christmas Day this year, in order to ensure that it arrives in time to commemorate RBG's 25th anniversary as a member of the U.S. Supreme Court, while still qualifying for 2019's biggest film awards shows. You can watch the first trailer in the space above, then check out the On the Basis of Sex poster below.
For Leder, On the Basis of Sex is a welcome return to the big screen. The director has only made one film (the direct-to-DVD crime/thriller Thick as Thieves) since her heyday in the late '90s and early '00s (Deep Impact, Pay It Forward), but has spent the years since then doing celebrated work on such TV series as Shameless and, most notably, Damon Lindelof's harrowing HBO drama The Leftovers. It's good to see her back in action at long last, with an A-grade biopic no less.
As far as the film's odds of success go, it's a bit difficult to call. Open Road Films didn't have much luck in 2017 with Marshall, Reginald Hudlin's own courtroom drama involving the early legal career of a groundbreaking Supreme Court Justice. That movie got buried at the box office and gained little traction during awards season, despite a good reception. Focus Features and Participant Media no doubt intend to prevent On the Basis of Sex from meeting a similar fate by releasing it in the dead-heat of the Oscar conversation this fall.
Source: Focus Features/Participant Media
- On the Basis of Sex (2018) release date: Dec 25, 2018