James C. Strouse’s Grace is Gone got a jolt of Awards season legitimacy a few weeks back when Clint Eastwood volunteered to compose a brand new score for the drama about a husband who’s left to raise his two daughters after his wife is killed whilst serving in the Iraq War. The film garnered generally favorable notices at this year’s Sundance Film Festival (though, interestingly, some critics complained it was either too staid or too manipulative – well, which is it?), but it didn’t engender the kind of unabashed adoration that powered Little Miss Sunshine to a Best Picture nomination. In fact, until Clint threw in on its behalf, it seemed like a complete also-ran.
Now, it’s on every Oscar voters’ radar, because these motherfuckers love them some Clint. Though merely scoring a movie is a long way from directing or producing, it’s still the kind of tacit approval that could put Grace is Gone on the shortlist for a number of awards. The most likely seems to be a Best Actor nod for John Cusack, who just experienced a mild career resurgence this summer with the surprise horror hit 1408. Though he’s never been in serious contention for an Oscar (which is criminal considering his great performances in everything from Eight Men Out to Harold Ramis’s underrated The Ice Harvest), this could be the movie that gets him on the prestige path. He probably won’t win his first time up, but this is the way the game is played. And I’d like to see Cusack finally get some official recognition from his peers.
Is he worthy? This new trailer up at Yahoo suggests he’s at the top of his game, as if that’s any kind of surprise. The trailer also features some very understated, Eastwood-ian cues. Is this the new score?