Initially scheduled to be released in 2008, "The Road" got detoured, heading back to the editing room when there were early creative glitches with the production. Was it the end of the road for its kudos hopes? There were early high expectations for the film adaptation of the award-winning novel about a father and son struggling to survive doomsday after it was included in Oprah Winfrey's Book Club. A movie adapted from another Oprah Book Club title did pretty well at the last Oscars derby: "The Reader."
Now there's suddenly new excitement about "The Road," thanks to ace reviews, especially for the harrowing performance of Viggo Mortensen. Declared the Hollywood Reporter: "Director John Hillcoat has performed an admirable job of bringing Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to the screen as an intact and haunting tale, even at the cost of sacrificing color, big scenes and standard Hollywood imagery of post-apocalyptic America." The New York Times cheered his performance for putting "flesh on the bones and a soul behind the exhausted, terrified eyes" of a character known simply as the Man.
"The Road" could be nominated for best picture and Viggo could make the list for lead actors, competing against front-runners George Clooney ("Up in the Air") and Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart"), plus stars of two other films also produced by the suddenly roaring-back-to-life Weinstein Co. -- Daniel Day-Lewis ("Nine") and Colin Firth ("A Single Man"). Viggo lost to Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood") two years ago when he received his first and only academy bid for "Eastern Promises." He wasn't nominated for starring in those "Lord of the Rings" Oscar juggernauts.
"The Road" may seem bleak, but its message is really inspiring. It's my second-favorite film of the year -- after "Precious." Viggo and I had a chance to chat informally a few days ago just hours before we teamed up to do a Q&A screening of "The Road" for the nominating committee of the Screen Actors' Guild.
Photo: Weinstein Co.