Does ‘Warrior’ have fighting chance for awards recognition this year?

Gold Derby recently sat down with Gavin O’Connor, the director of “Warrior,” Lionsgate’s most likely awards contender this year.


Warrior” is the story of two brothers, estranged for years after a difficult childhood, who are brought together, along with their alcoholic father, in the most unusual of circumstances – the world of mixed martial arts. It stars Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, and includes a captivating and buzzed about tour-de-force performance from veteran actor Nick Nolte.

O’Connor recalls the long process of casting Hardy and Edgerton as his two leading men. The irony of casting a Brit and an Aussie to play two very American men is not lost on O’Connor; however, a crucial element in casting the film was for the actors to not be overly familiar faces. At the time the search was on for the two brothers, Hardy and Edgerton were not very well known at all, and O’Connor had already scoured the country looking for the right fit for the parts. As luck would have it, the release of this film couldn’t have been timed more perfectly, as just under three years later, both actors are poised to be superstars in their own right, as Hardy is busy filming the eagerly anticipated “The Dark Knight Rises” and Edgerton is starring in Baz Luhrmann’s “Great Gatsby” remake.

At this early stage of awards season, the attention is firmly focused on the spectacular comeback performance by Nick Nolte. Nolte is a two-time Best Actor Oscar nominee: in 1991 he was nominated for “The Prince of Tides” (he lost to Anthony Hopkins for “The Silence of the Lambs”) and in 1998 he was nominated for “Affliction” (he lost to Roberto Benigni for “Life is Beautiful”).

As the once washed-up alcoholic father hanging on to his sobriety and trying to make amends with his two estranged sons who harbor their own deep resentment and anger against their father, Nolte is a force to be reckoned with in the Supporting Actor race this year. Two other “overdue” actors are being touted for that category — Christopher Plummer in “Beginners” and Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” 

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O’Connor is enthusiastic about Nolte’s raw and emotional performance and the support being thrown behind Nolte thus far. “To see Nick get recognised is very gratifying to me because I love Nick, he was so committed to this film, he didn’t do it for a payday, he poured his heart into the part, and he went to some very deep emotional, painful places that required a lot of courage,” O’Connor says.

Depending on how the various critics associations and other awards groups vote in in the coming months, “Warrior” might also make a showing in other categories, especially for Hardy or Edgerton as well as for its screenplay and its director. O’Connor is happy to wait and see what happens. “The thing about making movies is, you don’t make them alone; I call it a ‘team sport’ and we all worked really hard and it was a long journey.”

Is it possible that the film’s journey might include a stop at the Kodak Theater?


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