Since first premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, Foxcatcher, the biographical film about Olympic wrestling champion Mark Schultz, his brother David, and paranoid schizophrenic John du Pont, has been getting a lot of buzz in large part due to chilling performances from the film’s three leading men (Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, and Steve Carell). And now that it’s making the rounds at film festivals — it has since debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and will screen at the New York Film Festival starting Oct. 10 — Foxcatcher is all anyone’s going to be talking about from now until the 87th Academy Awards in February.
With that in mind, we break down the film to its essential talking points so you can get up to speed ahead of its theatrical release on Nov. 14.
Prepare to see Channing Tatum and Steve Carell like you’ve never seen them before
One sure way to get media buzzing is by undergoing a physical transformation on screen. Foxcatcher delivers on this twofold. First, Carell is barely recognizable under aging makeup, bald cap, and an enlarged nose that, at times, makes him look like Felonious Gru, the super villain he voiced in Despicable Me. Tatum is all muscle, cauliflower ears, and over-sized clenched bottom jaw as the Olympic wrestling champion. His performance is driven by the physical nature of the role and you can see the pain exerted on his body from what was a lifetime of training for the real athlete.
Get ready to utter the phrase, “Oscar nominee Channing Tatum”
While there’s no doubt there will be Oscar chatter surrounding the two performances for the quiet Ruffalo and Carell’s disturbing turn as du Pont, Tatum will likely hear his name tossed around among contenders for Best Actor. It’s not a showy role, but as Mark Schultz, Tatum holds the film together with a touchingly somber performance about a man struggling with own quest for glory under the clouded guidance of du Pont’s care.
This is not a sports film though it the best one about the world of freestyle wrestling
It’s easy to look at this film and label it another sports movie that would easily fall in line with lighter fare, such as Remember the Titans or Invincible. However, much like director Bennett Miller’s 2011 film Moneyball, this is about the larger story. Foxcatcher is about the layered internal conflicts of masculinity and pride. At the core of the film, du Pont is a man who uses money to inflate an almost imaginary world of power and brotherly (or fatherly) love, and prove to his mother that he is a leader among men.
As for the look inside of wrestling — prepare to feel the physical pain Tatum is put through as Schultz. From the rigorous training to the binge eating and subsequent extreme weight loss, it’s hard not to feel exhausted by the sheer amount of torment wrestlers face to compete on an international level.
Consider this a hat trick for director Bennett Miller
Not many directors have a track record like Miller. Foxcatcher is only his third feature length film — the first two being Capote (2005) and Moneyball (2011). Both of those films earned several nominations, including Best Picture at their respective Oscars. With this film already earning a Best Director win and Palme d’Or nomination at Cannes, it could easily find itself in a similar situation come awards season.
Learn this name: Megan Ellison
If you’re not convinced of this film’s lasting potential then don’t look at who is on screen — yes, Tatum can be a bit jarring to think about — and pay attention to who is producing the project. In this case, it is Megan Ellison (pictured second from left). The daughter of billionaire Oracle Corporation CEO Larry Ellison, Megan is making waves in Hollywood as one of the youngest yet most powerful film producers. At 28, she’s produced three Best Film Oscar contenders (American Hustle, Her, and Zero Dark Thirty) with the first two going after the prize in the same year. She also had a hand in the polarizing yet buzzy Spring Breakers starring James Franco and is behind the reboot of the Terminator franchise.
Foxcatcher is in theaters on Nov. 14.