Jake Gyllenhaal could well win the Best Actor Oscar for his heartfelt portrayal in “Stronger” of Jeff Bauman, Jr. who lost both his legs in 2013 Boston marathon bombing. This Oscar contender debuted at the Toronto film festival on Sept. 8 to strong reviews, especially for its leading man, a one-time Best Supporting Actor Oscar contender (“Brokeback Mountain”), as the heroic Bauman who was waiting at the finish line to cheer on his girlfriend Erin Hurley (Tatiana Maslany).
Despite his life-threatening injuries, this 27-year-old Boston native was a key eyewitness whose help proved invaluable in the hunt for the bombers. The film then follows him on his long road to recovery, which entailed grueling physical therapy as well as counseling to come to terms with his injuries. Miranda Richardson and Clancy Brown shine as his parents Patty and Jeff Bauman and both could well figure in the featured acting Oscar races.
John Poliono, who has a recurring role on “This Is Us,” adapted Bauman’s memoir of the same name and David Gordon Green (“Our Brand Is Crisis”) directed. By focusing on just one real-life victim of the attack, “Stronger” differentiates itself from last year’s “Patriot’s Day.” That film by Peter Berg starred Mark Wahlberg as a composite character, a police officer who was present at various key moments leading up to and after the bombing.
Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions are parlaying these rave reviews for “Stronger” into a Sept. 22 release, which puts it out ahead of many of the other Oscar contenders. Strong box office should boost its profile, as will a home video release timed to Oscar nominations voting in January.
After reading excerpts from some of the strongest notices, be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.
Andrew Barker (Variety): The director certainly gets plenty of help from a superb lead performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, whose recent work has been of such a uniformly high caliber that it’s almost easy to overlook, and who tackles this role with every ounce of his usual commitment.
Deborah Young (THR): Gyllenhaal, who coproduced the film with his company Nine Stories Productions, brings an Everyman quality to Jeff. Emotionally wounded by his domineering mother and by his own weaknesses, he makes a journey that everyone can identify with.
Benjamin Lee (Guardian): Another actor could have struggled with such naked camera work, the mechanics of their work seeming, well, mechanical, but Gyllenhaal is effortlessly good here. It’s an awards-worthy performance for a star who so often gets miscast and he sells both the good and the bad within Bauman.
Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives and top name stars can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.