Last year the Weinstein Company reaped six Oscar nominations for “Lion,” including Best Picture. That film was based on an riveting true story as is the studio’s current Oscar contender, “The Current War,” which had its world premiere at the Toronto film festival on Sept. 9. This period piece chronicles the battle waged between Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) over the spread of electric power.
“The Current War” is directed by two-time Emmy nominee Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (“American Horror Story”) from a script by rookie Michael Mitnick. The studio has done well with this sort of fare at the Oscars, winning Best Picture in 2010 for “The King’s Speech,” which depicted the efforts of King George VI (Colin Firth) to overcome a stammer, and “The Imitation Game” (2014).
The latter starred Cumberbatch, who reaped his first Oscar bid for portraying the heroic WWII codebreaker Alan Turing. Playing such real-life roles has proven to be a winner for six of the last 10 Best Actor Oscar champs. Likewise Shannon could reap his third Supporting Actor Oscar bid (after “Revolutionary Road” in 2008 and “Nocturnal Animals” last year) for doing what he does best: stealing scenes.
The below-the-line roster of talent on “The Current War” is filled with awards contenders. Lensing is by Chung-hoon Chung, who earned critical attention for “The Handmaiden” last year. It was cut by David Trachtenberg who reaped an ACE Eddie bid for his 2015 collaboration with Gomez-Rejon (“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”). Costumes are by Oscar-nominated Michael Wilkinson (“American Hustle,” 2013) while the production design was overseen by two-time contender Jan Roelfs (“Orlando,” 1992; “Gattaca,” 1997). And composers Volker Bertelman and Dustin O’Halloran earned their first Oscar bid last year for “Lion.”
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