Preview: The Potential of “Big Eyes”
“Big Eyes” is good, or so say the small group of people who have seen early test screenings of the film. The consensus doesn’t exactly rave about, nor does it shame the film – it is good they say. Keep in mind you can never fully grasp the quality of a film from such a small group of people, it helps but we will only know “Big Eyes” full potential once it has premiered to a larger audience, perhaps at a festival.
The movie is based on a true story. We follow Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), a man who became a national celebrity after he pioneered the mass production of prints of big-eyed kid kids. He claimed to be the artist, but he wasn’t. His wife, Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) painted them from their basement. This broke up their marriage and let to a court battle, Walter claiming that his wife was crazy. It all ended when the judge put up two easels, side by side, and challenged each of them to paint a “big eyes” painting. Walter claimed he had a shoulder injury and couldn’t do it, while Margaret drew a big-eyed painting right there.
The hype began a while back, sometime last year. You don’t usually connect Tim Burton’s director status to a potential Oscar film at a glance, but in this case the story was very intriguing. And with a late release date combined with the support of Awards-guru Harvey Weinstein of The Weinstein Company – you have to consider the potential of this film to be something great.
Tim Burton hasn’t worked on an original story in quite some time. “Corpse Bride” was probably his last original story, he directed the animated film in 2005 alongside Mike Johnson. Many have followed his resumé back to 1994, 20 years ago, when he directed what is considered arguably his greatest film – “Ed Wood.”
That was 20 years ago. The well-known director hasn’t ever received an Oscar nomination except for producing the films “Frankenweenie” and “Corpse Bride” which gained nominations in the animated category. But “Big Eyes” could very well yield the same success as “Ed Wood,” primarily because it has the same writers.
The script was pinned by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski who were originally set to co-direct the film as well. On May 1st it was announced that the film would be released right in the heart of Oscar season, on Christmas Day.
The cast for the film is massive. Starring Amy Adams who is looking at a 6th acting nomination for the film (she has yet to win an Oscar) and two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz. The supporting cast includes Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman, Terence Stamp, and Danny Huston.
4-time Oscar nominee Bruno Delbonnel returns as the cinematographer who was previously nominated last year for “Inside Llewyn Davis” and in 2010 for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” He worked with Burton in 2012 on “Dark Shadows.”
Production Designer Rick Heinrichs previously worked with Burton on “Frankenweenie,” “Dark Shadows,” “Planet of the Apes,” and “Sleepy Hollow.” In addition he has worked on “Fargo,” “The Big Lebowski,” “Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3,” and “Captain America: The First Avenger.” He won one of his three Oscar nominees in 2000 for “Sleepy Hollow.”
Burton’s films typically have an inventive design and texture to them, so if anything expect the film to show up in the technical categories from production design to costumes and makeup. This is the first film Tim Burton has directed since “Edward Scissorhands” that won’t have Chris Lebenzon has an editor, due to scheduling conflicts with “Maleficent.” He is replaced by newcomer JC Bond who has contributed in several projects (including “Dark Shadows,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”) as a first assistant editor.
Another common Burton alumni, Danny Elfman, returns to compose the original music. He has never won an Oscar despite four nominations for “Milk,” “Big Fish,” “Men in Black,” and “Good Will Hunting.”
– Director Tim Burton has a strong resumé including “Sweeney Todd,” “Big Fish,” and “Ed Wood”
– It’s an interesting historical story with an unconventional, yet satisfying conclusion
– Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in the lead roles, and a strong supporting cast
– The Weinstein Company will help promote and sell this film for awards
– Great above-the-line crew including composer Danny Elfman and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel
– Tim Burton has a weak resumé including “Alice in Wonderland,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Dark Shadows,” and “Planet of the Apes”
– Early word is good, but not great