THE GREY is first official Oscar bait of 2012

According to an interview with director Joe Carnahan at the Playlist, he received so much positive initial buzz for The Grey that he briefly considered dangling his Liam Neeson-starring actioner in front of awards voters in time for the 2011 Oscar race.  That never came to fruition, but it looks like he’ll get his wish in 2012 as the movie’s distributor has reportedly committed to a limited theatrical re-release this autumn.  It’s quite the bold announcement for a film that has yet to sell a single first-run ticket.

Carnahan explains:

“If we’d been able to launch in Toronto, which was our initial plan, but we wound up six weeks behind because of effects…Honestly, it’s nice to even be mentioned, the idea that people even think it’s awards-worthy. That’s flattering. Open Road has said flat out and sort of scrawled it in blood that they’re going to release the film in October 2012 for a qualifying run, which is great.”

No word yet from the Screen Invasion legal department on whether or not a blood oath constitutes a binding agreement under entertainment law.

The Grey is garnering particular attention for Neeson’s muscular performance as a disaffected game hunter employed by an Alaskan oil company to protect pipeline workers from Arctic predators.  It’s the latest addition to the hulking Irishman’s action star résumé, which includes recent turns in The A-Team (also directed by Carnahan), and the international box-office hit Taken.

The 59-year-old Neeson already has one Oscar nomination to his credit for Schindler’s List, and had previously built a 25-year career of well-received performances in historical prestige pics like Michael Collins and Kinsey.  Needless to say, it would be quite unexpected for the guy who played the lovesick widower in Love Actually to be recognized for a film where he menaces grey wolves with broken minibar bottles.  But Neeson’s been convincing so far in his action roles – perhaps this is the year he’ll conquer the Academy and validate the theory that if you can’t beat them, beat them up.

The Grey opens nationwide this Friday, January 27.  Stay tuned tomorrow for the Screen Invasion review.

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Eric Ambler

Eric Ambler

Eric Ambler is a film critic and correspondent for Screen Invasion, as well as the founder of Ambler Amblog ( His parents named him after a Welsh spy novelist they found in a reference book. Someday he will get around to watching all the VHS tapes he bought at Goodwill.