In only a few days, we’ll get our first idea of what’s in store for The Whale, the latest film from director Darren Aronofsky. The revered filmmaker behind Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, Black Swan, and, most recently, mother! is most certainly known for his bold, relentless, intensive, and visceral films, and his adaptation of Samuel D. Hunter‘s 2012 play of the same name may not be an exception.
Slated to premiere on September 4th at the Venice Film Festival, the upcoming drama is already predicted to be a major awards season contender, notably for Brendan Fraser‘s transformative lead performance, and it makes sense that A24 is slating to release the movie on December 9th, which puts it right smack dab in the middle of Oscar consideration. It’s not yet certain if this date is a limited engagement or a wide rollout.
The release date announcement was included in Vanity Fair‘s extensive article breaking down the making of this intimate character piece. The film’s release date makes it readily available not just for awards consideration but best of the year round-ups as well. Of course, it’s much too early to know if this movie will match the expectations of audiences and awards pundits alike, but there’s already good reason to believe that Fraser’s performance will be among the most acclaimed of this ongoing year; about a week ago, it was announced that Fraser is slated to be the recipient of this year’s Tribute Award for Performance at the Toronto International Film Festival. Previously, this festival award was given to Jessica Chastain for The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Joaquin Phoenix for Joker, both of whom went on to win their respective Oscars. That’s not to say that it’s a guarantee that Fraser will walk away with his own Oscar statue, but it certainly suggests that he’s on the path to getting a lot of awards attention.
Certainly, Aronofsky is no stranger to leading his Oscars into the awards season conversation. Natalie Portman won an Oscar for her spellbinding lead performance in Black Swan, while Mickey Rourke and Ellen Burstyn were nominated for their work in The Wrestler and Requiem for a Dream, respectively. It’s safe to say that Aronofsky‘s work hasn’t always suited the Academy’s tastes. mother! was maybe a little too extreme and allegorical for their tastes, it seems, and the same could be said for The Fountain and Noah, as they were also snubbed from their respective Oscar seasons. It seems The Whale will perhaps be more stark and subdued than the notoriously stylistic director’s previous films, which might ultimately work in its favor come Oscar season.
Of course, we’ll have a much better idea of what’s in store for The Whale when the movie premieres at the beginning of September. But as its new release date makes evident, it’s expected to be a contender.
The Whale hits theaters on December 9th.