'Rampart' campaign ramps up with qualifying release next week

Posted by · 8:21 am · November 15th, 2011

I’m finally seeing Oren Moverman’s police drama “Rampart” tomorrow evening, so for now, I’m taking it on Kris’ word that Woody Harrelson’s lead performance in the fall festival baby is a dark horse to be reckoned with in the Best Actor race. Kris has opined that Harrelson’s turn as a volatile cop in 1990s LA is the high-water mark of the two-time Oscar nominee’s career, but has voiced concern that his under-the-radar vehicle (distributed by budget outfit Millennium Pictures), may have landed too late in the race to get him in the circle, despite critical support.

“Why not hold it until Sundance next year?” was the question Kris and Anne brought up in last week’s edition of Oscar Talk, something one asks every year of several indies that impatiently decide to debut in the cold crush of awards season. Still, Millennium are opting for the best of both worlds: they’re releasing the film in late January 2012, when it’ll have slightly more commercial breathing room, but holding a one-week, one-screen release next week so as to qualify it for Oscar consideration this year.

That’s good news for hungry Oscar-watchers in the area, who’ll have a chance to check it out from next Wednesday at Laemmle’s Sunset 5. (I assume they know where that is; I sure don’t.) Whether it’s good news for the film or not remains to be seen, but Harrelson is clearly in with a chance: the Best Actor race is currently heavy on major star names in the Clooney-Pitt-DiCaprio range (with Jean Dujardin fixed in place as this year’s exotic intruder), but there’s room for an indie favorite, and while the heat is currently with Michael Fassbender, Harrelson’s popularity shouldn’t be underestimated.

Collaborating with Moverman panned out well for both men two years ago with an even lower-profile pic, “The Messenger” — could it work out again? If so, could Moverman, this time working with esteemed crime writer James Ellroy, once more surprise with the writers’ branch?

I look forward to seeing where I land on the film, and the performance; meanwhile, check out Kris’ rave here.

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