Director J.A. Bayona’s name may not be too familiar yet with the moviegoing public. At least not yet. His two previous movies were acclaimed 2007 horror pic The Orphanage and 2012’s Tsunami drama The Impossible, which earned Naomi Watts a Best Actress nomination. His name ID will surely increase soon as he’s about to take on the sequel to last summer’s biggest blockbuster, Jurassic World. Or perhaps even sooner with A Monster Calls, his fantasy tearjerker which opens December 23rd statewide and screened at the Toronto Film Festival this weekend.
It’s been reported that Monster received a rapturous audience ovation after its premiere. Based on a 2011 bestseller by its author Patrick Ness, the film stars Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, newcomer Lewis MacDougall, and the voice of Liam Neeson as the calling title character. Buzz from Toronto suggests this is a weepie crowd pleaser that deals with serious themes such as parental loss coupled with more fantastical elements.
Not all critics seemed to fall for it with some calling it heavy handed. However, if Monster can break through at the box office, it could find itself with some Oscar talk in Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay. Certain technical category nods seem more likely. And Felicity Jones is said to be a highlight. She’s the It Girl of Fall 2016, appearing in this, Inferno alongside Tom Hanks, and headlining a little something called Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Her inclusion in Supporting Actress for this one is not out of the question.
As Toronto continues, look for more Oscar Watch posts.