With the summer movie season winding down, attention will soon turn to the Oscars. The fall typically brings about several projects hoping to win major awards, and it's probably no coincidence that a majority of contenders see their theatrical release in the months of October - December. Though it's still very early to get a clear read on this year's race, a number of prospects have already made waves, including Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation, Damien Chazelle's La La Land, and Ang Lee's Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.
One upcoming film that looks like an Oscar lock on-paper is Allied, a World War II drama from director Robert Zemeckis (who received an Academy Award for Forrest Gump in 1994). The movie stars Brad Pitt as intelligence officer Max Vatan, who meets French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) while on a mission. The two are reunited in London, where the pressures of war put their relationship through an arduous test. Paramount hasn't done much by the way of advertising Allied to date, but that changes now with the release of the first still image.
Revealed as an exclusive to People, the picture shows Pitt and Cotillard sitting at a café table, seemingly enjoying each other's company. There isn't much to dissect in the photo, but cinephiles should get a kick out of the period setting and costumes, hinting at a top-notch production design. Check it out below:
Allied producer Graham King praised the stars in an interview with People, saying that they "immediately had the utmost respect for each other, so once they delved into their characters, their chemistry was electric." Apparently, Pitt and Cotillard spent time ironing out their characters with Zemeckis before production began, which made them feel "lived-in and real" according to King. It would seem that a majority of the film will revolve around Pitt and Cotillard's dynamic, so it's obviously great to hear that the two worked very well with one another. Love stories have to be convincing on-screen for audiences to buy in.
After spending most of the 2000s working in the realm of CGI animation to mixed results (see: Beowulf, The Polar Express), the filmmaker has recently made a successful return to live-action. In 2012, Flight earned $93.7 million at the domestic box office and a Best Actor nomination for Denzel Washington. And while The Walk bombed commercially last year, it received positive reviews, indicating Zemeckis can still blend compelling drama with his usual technical expertise. This is to say, Zemeckis should have a strong handle on Allied from behind the camera and craft something that feels cinematic and is emotionally engaging. Screenwriter Steven Knight (Seventh Son) has an up-and-down filmography, but his work on movies such as Locke and Eastern Promises shows he's more than capable as well.
Paramount has scheduled Allied for a November 2016 release, just more than three months from now. One would think that they'd make strides to raise awareness in the near future, meaning a trailer should be on the horizon. That would give people a better idea as to what to expect, and if Allied can indeed contend for Oscar glory. The Academy does have a soft spot for WWII, and Hollywood has no shortage of stories to tell.
Allied hits U.S. theaters November 23, 2016.