This year's …
Both films are Peter Morgan-scripted, Ron Howard-directed tales of two sometime hotheads going round-for-round in a very public arena. Plus Days of Thunder for the roaringly good sound and visual effects.
What's it all about?
Rush is about the intense rivalry between Formula One drivers James Hunt – a foppish English partyboy with an aggressive need for speed, sex and booze – and Niki Lauda, an uptight Austrian interested in rationality, discipline, and tweaking microscopic time advantages out of the car. The pair raced each other throughout the late 70s. Both became world champions during their heyday.
How did it happen?
Peter Morgan's script was snapped up by Ron Howard, who expressed an interest in making a film set in the "restless, sexy" seventies. Chris Hemsworth, who plays Hunt, climbed into the driving seat between Thor movies, while Olivia Wilde took pole position in the race to play Hunt's wife, supermodel Suzy Miller, way back in October 2011. Russell Crowe was apparently going to make an appearance as Richard Burton (the equally rambunctious soul whom Miller hooked up with after falling out with Hunt). Turns out that rumour was running on fumes.
Nominations it wants
Peter Morgan's script is top drawer, as Hunt might say. He's had original screenplay nominations for Frost/Nixon and The Queen. It's probably high time for another, especially as Rush laps his recent stinkers (Hereafter, 360) many times over.
Daniel Brühl has been brilliant as a supporting player for quite some time (he's the drunken Nazi oaf in Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds). He's also shown he can shine in indie leads (Good Bye, Lenin!). But Rush – paired perhaps with his turn as former WikiLeaks activist Daniel Domscheit-Berg in The Fifth Estate – is going to make him a star. Lauda's not as handsome nor as likable as the gregarious Hunt, but Brühl brings so much soul to the part that you warm to him, despite his frosty professionalism. He should get a supporting actor nomination.
What it might win
Morgan's prestige, plus the double nom and no-win streak, makes for a nice "victory at last" narrative, but Brühl's a better bet. The Academy likes to play its part in helping an actor across the finish line, no matter how late in the race they step in.
Reasons to fall for it
It's pure, adrenalised fun with enough character and charm to win over even those who'd rather throw themselves under the car than watch Formula One. Brühl is magnificent. Howard makes the 70s sexy and restless, without stringing up a disco ball. Whole lotta Led Zep, mind ...
Reasons it might fail
A lack of reverence, maybe? There's a triumph over adversity story, but it's a fair way into the film. The Academy might be having a dour year. If so, expect Rush to find it hard to overtake more serious competitors.
When can we see it?
It's out in the UK on 13 September and on 27 September in the US.
In four words
Not just for petrolheads.
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