One of the more well-received movies at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (which is still ongoing—I’m filing this story from Toronto!) was the Jackie Kennedy biopic Jackie, which is anything but your standard biopic. Collider’s own Matt Goldberg praised the film in his positive review, and now Fox Searchlight has secured domestic distribution rights to the film and has already staked out a very Oscar friendly December 9th release date.
The film has actually been in the works for years, and once was set up at Fox Searchlight as a directorial effort from Darren Aronofsky. It was subsequently produced independently, with Aronofsky remaining involved as a producer, but the film marks the English-language debut of Neruda director Pablo Larrain. The story recounts the hours and days following John F. Kennedy’s assassination, focusing on its impact on the First Lady (played by Natalie Portman in a powerhouse performance). The film is more like a portrait than a traditional narrative feature, serving as a meditation on legacy and grief as Jackie sets out to make funeral arrangements that will ensure JFK will be remembered as a great man.
Jackie made its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, where screenwriter Noah Oppenheim snagged the Best Screenplay award, and it played incredibly well here at TIFF. Portman is the central focus of this film and she delivers an incredible performance that, now that the film has Fox Searchlight and a December release date, likely ensures she’ll be a major part of the upcoming Best Actress race.
Fox Searchlight is currently in the midst of figuring out how The Birth of a Nation will fare during awards season, after purchasing the breakout hit from Sundance only for word to surface that director Nate Parker and co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin were charged with rape during their college years. With the film’s awards chances now in doubt, Fox Searchlight no doubt saw an opportunity available when Jackie secured positive notices.
The happy beneficiaries of this Jackie news is the Los Cabos International Film Festival, which will provide the Mexican premiere of the film during it November 9th through 13th festival run.