The new Oscar season just got a little hotter.
Adding to the existing titles like “The Social Network” and “The King’s Speech” is a new contender called “The Fighter.”
Directed by David O. Russell, “The Fighter” is an A plus effort, the missing piece in this year’s Oscar puzzle. All the main performers–Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo–are headed to nominations.
This is the film about real life Boston boxer Micky Ward (Wahlberg), his crack addicted trainer brother (Bale), their flamboyant mother (Leo), and Ward’s girlfriend (Adams).
Set in the Boston suburb of working class Lowell (birthplace of Jack Kerouac, FYI) in the early 90s, “The Fighter” is a huge leap forward for Russell, whose best film up til now had been “Three Kings.”
“The Fighter” is so absorbing that it wasn’t until ten minutes had passed that realized Alice Ward wasn’t a real person, but Melissa Leo playing her. Leo scores a grandslam home run.
Also: the film opens with Bale, and he’s so far already into the role of Dickie Ecklund, Ward’s half brother, that you almost feel like you have to catch up with him. Like Leo, Bale is working on a different planet.
Wahlberg and Adams are just as good, but there are parts aren’t quite as showy. Wahlberg told us at last night’s dinner following the movie, at the Porter House, that he’d been working on this project for five years. His boxing scenes are incendiary. Adams really wanted this part, Russell told me. It’s a breakout for her since Amy usually plays good girls.
Director James Toback, Robert Wuhl, actors Bob Dishy and Judy Graubart, were among those in the audience. I do think when “The Fighter” finally releases on December 10th it’s going to be a smash. I’d put it with “King’s Speech,” “The Social Network,” “127 Hours,” and “The Town” as — so far– the top 5 films of 2010. And that’s quite an impressive group!