Cast: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, John Turturro and Ben Mendelsohn
Synopsis: An account of Moses’ hand in leading the Israelite slaves out of Egypt
Why It Might Succeed:
Biblical epics are making a comeback this year. Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” hits theaters in a little over a week, but the bigger awards play will be Ridley Scott’s telling of Moses titled “Exodus.” One of the most legendary tales is getting an update with a strong cast and a well-known director at the helm. Its December release date also puts it in the same time frame that “American Hustle” had this year.
Ridley Scott tackled a similar style of epic back in 2000, and in case you forgot, that little film was called “Gladiator” and went on to win best picture. This is the type of filmmaking that the Academy loves to honor; big, sweeping productions that could not be done in any other medium. With an experienced team from cinematography Dariusz Wolski to production designer Arthur Max, Scott has surrounded himself with a high quality group of collaborators.
We can also be pretty certain that this will be quite different than Cecil B. DeMille’s “Ten Commandments” from 1956. The two films may cover the same subject matter, but with a script from Steven Zaillian expect a more brutal depiction. In turn, that could potentially make the inspirational qualities of the story even stronger. A similar formula was part of “12 Years a Slave” winning last year.
Ridley Scott hasn’t been on his game for last few years. His last four films were “Body of Lies,” “Robin Hood,” “Prometheus” and “The Counselor” and every single one of them was a disappointment. Scott may be going back to the “Gladiator” well with “Exodus,” but “Prometheus” wasn’t a return to “Alien,” and that was in the same universe. His name still carries the cache, but if “Exodus” doesn’t live up to the hype, Scott’s recent decline may have finally overcome his reputation.
On top of that, despite the cast being filled with big names, they are some confusing picks. Christian Bale as Moses. Okay. Joel Edgerton as Ramses? Huh? Sigourney Weaver, Aaron Paul also seem somewhat out of place. The names are impressive, but they don’t come naturally to mind when you think of the story of Moses. Now of course, the performances are what matter and they could blow us away, but right now no one in the cast seems like a home run.
Lastly, “Exodus” will have to emerge from the shadow of Cecil B. DeMille’s original. However different the two films are, you won’t be able to stop the comparisons. “The Ten Commandments” was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture. Despite being more than fifty years old, it’s still a film that is impressive in scope and execution. If “Exodus” can’t live up to or surpass “The Ten Commandments” don’t be surprised if the Academy forgets it in the major categories.
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Production Design
Best Costume Design
Best Visual Effects