Almost every year there are a few films that are on nobody’s radar throughout the year that pop up at the eleventh hour and receive a significant amount of Awards attention. Past examples have included Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby and last year’s Crazy Heart. This year that film may be Geoffrey Sax’s Frankie & Alice from Freestyle Releasing, which has announced an Oscar qualifying release on December 17.
The film is about the true story of Frankie Murdoch, a woman in 1970s Los Angeles who suffered from multiple personality disorder. Portraying that eccentric leading role is Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry who may be in store to re-enter the Oscar race 9 years after her only nomination and win in 2002. Berry’s performance has been highly praised by those who have seen the film with The Hollywood Reporter calling her “spellbinding.”
Does this mean that Halle Berry is a name worth bringing up in the already crowded Best Actress race? Why not? Halle Berry is not an incredibly well-respected actress in the acting community, largely because her movie roles since her Oscar win have been dismal. The lack of great offers is probably what spurred her to produce this movie and give herself the leading role. Actors will respect that decision and if enough screeners are distributed and if she successfully makes the publicity rounds, she could be a talked up item.
Berry will likely not get much support from an Oscar campaign because of the small distributor who will be releasing the film. Freestyle Releasing does not have a good track record with getting their stars noticed for Oscar consideration. Last year they had two films with performances that were buzzed at film festivals – Christian McKay in Me and Orson Welles and Hal Holbrook in That Evening Sun. The lack of an Oscar campaign never really got either of those performances off the ground in terms of Oscar credibility despite the fact that they were on several predictions lists and won several precursor awards.
Perhaps Freestyle is figuring their strategy out, but for now I would keep Halle Berry at the distant 9th or 10th spot on the Best Actress charts.