Is Sean Penn crashing the best actor race?

09.21.11 6 years ago 7 Comments

The Weinstein Company

After his public comments about the editing of “The Tree of Life,” we’re still unsure if Sean Penn will appear at any future SAG screening or, now, Academy member screenings of the critic’s favorite, but his other film from the 2011 Cannes Film Festival has finally found a home. HitFix can confirm The Weinstein Company has picked up U.S. distribution for Paolo Sorrentino’s “This Must Be The Place.”

The unconventional road movie begins with our hero, former Goth rocker Cheyenne (Penn), deciding to follow his father’s obsession with finding a Nazi officer who made his life hell while he was interned at the Auschwitz concentration camp.  This man may still be alive somewhere and Cheyenne leaves his family to crisscross America in his hunt for the rogue SS officer.  The picture, which mixes comedy and striking sentimentality, also stars Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsch and David Byrne as, um, David Byrne. 

“The Place” received positive notices after its Cannes debut, but the reaction to the film was mostly all over the place (a consistent thread in most reviews).  Penn received a significant amount of praise for his performance as a man stuck in the ’80s (he still looks like a Robert Smith of The Cure wannabe), but  according to sources there is no plan on releasing “The Place” in time for Academy qualifying.  Instead, the picture, which will need a deft hand on the publicity side, will come out sometime in 2012. 

That effectively eliminates two-time Oscar winner Penn from this year’s race which should feature Leonardo DiCaprio (“J. Edgar”), Gary Oldman (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”), Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”), Michael Fassbender (“Shame”), Brad Pitt (“Moneyball”), Michael Shannon (“Take Shelter”), Ryan Gosling (“Drive,” “The Ides of March”), Anton Yelchin (“Like Crazy”) and George Clooney (“The Descendants”).  Of course, Harvey Weinstein has been known to throw last minute surprises into the awards season mix.  And since it’s only Sept. 21, well, never say never.

For year round entertainment commentary and awards season news follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter @HitFixGregory.

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