Last year, Harvey Weinstein shepherded “The King’s Speech” to four Oscars, including Best Picture. However, as he was credited only as an executive producer on the project, he was not given an actual Academy Award. The three men who oversaw the film from start to finish — Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin — took to the stage of the Kodak Theater to claim their prize.
This year, the Weinstein Company is back in the hunt with a bounty of prestige pictures. While Weinstein does not have that all-important producer’s credit on any of these contenders, his winning ways could be just what is needed to steer them through the derby.
First up is “My Week with Marilyn” which will be the Centerpiece of this fall’s New York filmfest. Two years ago, “Precious” was showcased in this prestigious slot and ended up a Best Picture nominee. This new film details the encounter between a British production assistant (Eddie Redmayne) and the reigning Hollywood screen goddess Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) when she journeyed to London to co-star opposite Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) in “The Prince and the Showgirl.” Directed by Simon Curtis (“Cranford”), the film features a bevy of British talent including Oscar champ Judi Dench as the formidable Dame Sybill Thorndike, Julia Ormond as Olivier’s wife Vivien Leigh and Dougray Scott as Monroe’s husband Arthur Miller as well as Emma Watson and Dominic Cooper.
Another Weinstein biopic that boasts an all-star cast is “The Iron Lady.” Two-time Oscar champ Meryl Streep (“Kramer vs. Kramer,” 1979; “Sophie’s Choice,” 1982) has reunited with her ‘Mamma Mia!’ director Phyllida Lloyd to play Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. The script is by Abi Morgan, a two-time TV BAFTA winner for Best Single Drama (“White Girl,” 2009) and Best Drama Serial (“Human Traffic,” 2005). Oscar winner Jim Broadbent (“Iris,” 2001) playing Thatcher’s stalwart husband Denis in the film which is framed around the Falklands War in 1982. Thatcher’s steadfast leadership during that troubled time solidifed her hold on the office and she went on to win two more elections.
Two-time Oscar nominated actor Ralph Fiennes stars in and makes his directorial debut with “Coriolanus.” Two-time Oscar nominee John Logan (“Gladiator,” “The Aviator”) adapted this Shakespeare classic about a banished hero of Rome who allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city. Standing out among the cast of leading English thespians is Oscar champ Vanessa Redgrave (“Julia”) as Volumnia, the title character’s manipulative mother.
The savvy showman also acquired “W.E.,” the much ballyhooed romance film helmed by Madonna. Abbie Cornish plays a modern-day woman caught up in discovering the truth behind the infamous love affair between Edward VIII (James D’Arcy) and Mrs. Simpson (Andrea Riseborough) that captivated the world in the 1930s.