It’s not always bad to be late to the party, even when it comes to the Oscars. The official premiere of Sony Pictures’ “A Man Called Otto” took place Monday at the Academy Museum, with a packed crowd of voters and critics alike. Although the movie wasn’t really on anyone’s radar, the reception was surprisingly enthusiastic based on social media reactions.
After sitting through the Best Picture discussion of the past three years, Sony has a few hands to play during the season. Aside from Gina Prince-Bythwood’s “The Woman King” and JD Dillard’s “Devotion,” Marc Forster’s “A Man Named Otto” could forcefully appeal to the Academy’s older demographic, and is sure to bring about happy moments and a few tears.
Beloved actor and “America’s Dad” Tom Hanks is back to do what he does best: usher in an “everyman persona” that audiences can’t help but cheer for, despite his obvious human flaws. A two-time Oscar winner for “Philadelphia” (1993) and “Forrest Gump” (1994), he has racked up six nods over the course of his career. One grueling hiatus was between the volleyball-loving survivor who survived a plane crash in “Cast Away” (2000) and his final nod to turn into TV icon Fred Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (2019), also a Sony film .
Since his role as Mister Rogers, some of Hanks’ acting choices have been hit or miss. Earlier this year, he had some critics and audiences baffled by his tone choices as music director Tom Parker in Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” and then again as Papa Geppetto in Robert Zemeckis’ “Pinocchio.” But in Otto, he offers a tender interpretation of a broken man, despised by life’s treatment of indifference to the people he meets. He could make a play to get his lucky seventh nod for Best Actor, which isn’t fully cemented yet. His “Elvis” co-star Austin Butler is among the contenders, which means the duo could be nominated for lead actor from separate projects. The last similar pairing was Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey in 2014 (both were in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” with the latter being nominated for and winning in “Dallas Buyers Club”).
Adapted from Fredrik Backman’s novel “A Man Called Ove” and later made into a Swedish film of the same in 2015, “Otto” tells the story of a sinister man who gives up on life after the loss of his wife. , wanting to end it all. But when a young family moves across the street, he builds a friendship with quick-witted expectant mother Marisol (played by Mariana Treviño), who challenges him to see the bright side of things.
The film is a revelation for American audiences of Mexican actress Treviño, who steals multiple scenes and brings an undeniable energy and gravitas to the supporting actress’ totally enigmatic race. Best known for her role in Netflix’s first Spanish-language original production “Club de Cuervos,” her hilarious banter with Hanks and actor Manuel García-Rulfo, who plays her not-so-helpful husband, is heartwarming. Does she have a chance to break into a category where big names like Angela Bassett (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”), Jessie Buckley (“Women Talking”) and Jamie Lee Curtis (“Everything Everywhere at Once”) have dominated the conversation? It’s going to be a very uphill climb, especially late in the season when the critics’ awards are already being handed out.
The film could play its part in a couple of its other runs, notably the adapted screenplay (written by Oscar-nominated “Finding Neverland” writer David Magee) and the original score (beautifully orchestrated by 15-time Oscar nominee Thomas Newman).
There are examples of year-end awards success stories such as Best Picture winner “Million Dollar Baby” (2004). While Otto’s movie is far from a Best Picture winner, it can be compared to last year’s winner “CODA” (2021) with its comforting characteristics, and will likely be one of the box office hits of the holiday season.
The film was produced by Hanks, Gary Gotzman, Fredrik Wikstrom Nicastro, and Rita Wilson, Hanks’ wife of 34 years. In addition, Wilson writes and sings the original song “Til You Home,” which appears midway through the film and above the entirety of the credits. The film also features vocals from Sebastián Yatra, who sang the Oscar-nominated “Dos Orrugitas” in “Encanto” (2021), and the track only adds to the film’s emotional gravitas and will likely be shortlisted for original song when it’s announced on Dec. 21.
The hurdle for Sony Pictures is getting voters to see the movie before ballots are turned in. Otto is sure to appeal to the Academy’s older demographic, with great potential for great crossover with others.
Watch the latest movie predictions, in all 23 categories, in one place miscellaneous Oscars Collection. To see predictions ranked for each category separately, visit miscellaneous The distribution of the Oscars.