Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan will fight on in 'Suffragette' this awards season

Posted by · 2:12 pm · March 17th, 2015

Focus Features officially has two films in the 2015-2016 awards season game.  The mini-major recently announced they would distribute Tom Hopper's adaptation of “The Danish Girl” with this year's Best Actor winner Eddie Redmayne. That contender will hit theaters on Nov. 27.  Their next player?  “Suffragette,” another period drama that just happens to star Ms. Meryl Streep.

Directed by BAFTA winner Sarah Gavron, “Suffragette” features a noteworthy ensemble including Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw (also in “Danish Girl”), Brendan Gleeson and the aforementioned Streep.  The film”s original screenplay is by Abi Morgan who previously scripted “Shame,” “The Iron Lady” and the Emmy-winning “The Hour.” With Oscar winning composer Alexandre Desplat also on board this is one project that is bursting with pedigree players.

According to a release from the studio “Suffragette” is a “moving drama that will empower all who are striving for equal rights in our own day and age. The stirring story, inspired by the early-20th-century campaign by the suffragettes for the right of women to vote, centers on Maud (Mulligan), a working wife and mother who comes to realize that she must fight for her dignity both at home and in her workplace. Realizing that she is not alone, she becomes an activist alongside other brave women from all walks of life. The early efforts at resistance were passive but as the women faced increasingly aggressive police action, the suffragettes become galvanized – risking their very lives to ensure that women”s rights would be recognized and respected.”
Peter Schlessel, CEO of Focus Features, noted, “'Suffragette' is a story that will resonate with men and women across the generations; it is about parents and children, courage and dedication, and making hard choices. Sarah, Abi, Alison and Faye are women who represent an amazing convergence of filmmaking talent. We”re proud to partner with Pathé to bring this powerful drama to audiences worldwide.”

The film, which was financed by Pathé, is currently set for release in the UK on Sept. 11.  That early Fall debut is eerily similar to the Sept. 12 date Pathé released “Pride” last year.  That frame worked will in the UK, but forced CBS Films to open that crowd pleaser at exactly the wrong time and to substantially underperform in the U.S.  Will Focus be able to push “Suffragette” to a more friendly October or November release date?  Certainly something to look out for, but, at worst, it's a smart bet the movie will find its way to Telluride or Toronto for a North American debut (although “Pride” premiered at Cannes so you never know).  

Streep has just a supporting role in “Suffragette,” but it provides her with another opportunity to earn her 20th Academy Award nomination next January.  She already has Jonathan Demme's “Ricki and the Flash” set for August.

Carey Mulligan has Thomas Vinterberg's “Far from the Madding Crowd” arriving on May 1, but it's likely that Suffragette” has more awards potential for the one-time Best Actress nominee. Carter, on the other hand, is enjoying more box office success as the Fairy Godmother in “Cinderella” and has a leading role in the Steve McQueen HBO series “Codes of Conduct” expected later this year (one to keep an eye out for).

Does “Suffragette” seem like an awards season contender to you? Share your thoughts below.

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