Pun fully intended.
Last year Julia Roberts hosted a screening of Javier Bardem’s film Biutiful to promote her friend’s performance in a small film, and garnering him some Academy attention. The ploy worked and Bardem received his third Oscar nomination. Taking a page from the Julia Roberts’ Playbook for Pimping Your Friends, Angelina Jolie hosted a screening of The Impossible, Juan Antonio Bayona’s film about one family’s travails in the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. McGregor is being promoted for supporting actor awards by Summit Entertainment (they’re also shopping Naomi Watts for Best Actress and sixteen-year-old Tom Holland for Best Actor—Holland doesn’t stand a chance with the Academy but he is phenomenal), but Jolie’s move is by far the most prominent and public show of support for McGregor.
I don’t think it will do much good on this side of the pond, though. Jolie’s screening was in London on the night before the UK premiere of the film, which will likely boost McGregor’s chances with the BAFTA, but not with the Academy. But there’s more than just Academy politicking between these two. Jolie and McGregor go way back, to her days with first husband Johnny Lee Miller. They’re old friends, and McGregor was very supportive of In the Land of Blood and Honey last year. And this movie, about a terrible humanitarian crisis, has to hit Jolie’s do-gooder vibe—reading that back, that sounds kind of derogatory but I don’t mean it that way. In her comments at the reception, Jolie said The Impossible is a film she wishes she was involved with herself.
And what’s the over/under on how many tabloid stories this spawns? Five? It’s got to be five. This is Angelina Jolie with Extremely Handsome Man Ewan McGregor. They look really good standing next to one another, which means, in tabloid speak, THEY MUST BE F*CKING. And according to the tabloids, Angelina Jolie exists only to lure men into her wicked web of wickedry (even though in her remarks, she referenced Brad Pitt, revealing that he wept during a screening of the film). I don’t know which is more interesting—the impact this will have on McGregor’s campaign, illustrating Jolie’s political pull in the Academy, or the potential for headlines like, “Angie leaves brokenhearted Brad for Scottish hunk”.
As for McGregor’s Oscar chances, they’re not non-existent, but he’s a long shot. He is really good in The Impossible—God, when Ewan McGregor cries, I challenge you to not cry, too—and though his part is relatively small, his devastating performance in one scene in particular would be perfect as a campaign clip for Oscar consideration. The problem for the actors in The Impossible, though, is The Impossible itself. The star of the movie isn’t an actor but the tsunami. Bayona recreates the tsunami in a technically marvelous sequence that is not only terrifying but a huge leap for CGI water effects. The acting in The Impossible is great—really great—but it’s hard to remember much beyond 1) your emotional trauma when it’s over and 2) the stunning tsunami scenes. The Impossible’s best chances at an Oscar lie in the technical categories, not the acting ones, no matter how often Angelina Jolie stands next to Ewan McGregor.
Attached - McGregor at The Impossible premiere last night.