It may be taking the stealth approach in this year’s awards season, but Kris has already flagged up “The Book Thief” as one to keep an eye on as the Oscar race takes shape. Fox 2000 quietly scheduled the prestige drama for a November 15 release — prime real estate in the awards game, as we all know — and the film ticks any number of baity boxes: based on a 2006 international bestseller by Markus Zusak, the film centers on Liesel, a nine-year-old girl in Nazi Germany, studying her relationship both with her foster parents and the Jewish fist-fighter her family shelters in their household.
Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush and Oscar nominee Emily Watson play her guardians, while Liesel herself is played by 12-year-old French-Canadian prodigy Sophie Nélisse. If you don’t believe the youngster has the potential to be this year’s Quvenzhane Wallis or Keisha Castle-Hughes, check out her devastating performance as an emotionally traumatized schoolgirl in last year’s foreign-language Oscar nominee “Monsieur Lazhar” — she’s more than a cute kid who can be coached into winsome reactions. British director Brian Percival is pretty green when it comes to feature films, but has won both an Emmy and a BAFTA for his work on “Downton Abbey,” and another BAFTA for his 2001 short “About a Girl.” Could he be this year’s Tom Hooper?
The name currently drawing the most eyeballs to the project, however, is that of venerable composer John Williams. The legend hasn’t scored a film outside the Spielberg-Lucas realm in almost a decade — does his attachment bode well for this potential awards sleeper? (If nothing else, it means we can pretty much set at least one nomination in stone — the music branch is powerless to resist him.)
Fox is skipping the festival circuit with this one, which could be a smart move — sometimes it pays to reveal yourself after the glut of Toronto/Venice/Telluride hopefuls. And the trailer, released today, promises a polished production that could well be up the alley of the Academy’s more traditionalist voters. Check it out below and tell us what you think.