Is Rourke's Wrestler Looking at Oscar Gold?

I'm starting to hear a lot of good things about the new Darren Aronofsky flick "The Wrestler" which stars Mickey Rourke as an aging, down-on-his-luck champion of the squared circle, trying to stage a comeback in the independent circuit. The film also stars Marissa (damn she looked good in "Before The Devil Knows Your Dead") Tomei and Marilyn Manson's chew toy, Evan Rachel Wood.

The film was shown last night at the Toronto Film Festival and immediately became the focus of an all-night bidding war for the distribution rights.

Variety reports that Fox Searchlight finally won the bid:

"After the packed screening of “The Wrestler” at Toronto's Elgin last night, buyers huddled on the street and made their way to the Four Seasons Hotel to offer bids and pitch release plans. An Oscar-campaign for Mickey Rourke's rough-and-tumble, vulnerable performance as a wrestler on the ropes was an essential component of the deal. Most distribs were offering a “Monster”-style Oscar-qualifying late-year platform with a wider release in January."

In his review, Variety's Todd McCarthy said that this may be just the thing Rourke needs to bring his career back from the dead:

"After many years in the wilderness and being considered MIA professionally, Mickey Rourke, just like the washed-up character he plays, attempts a return to the big show in 'The Wrestler.' Not only does he pull it off, but Rourke creates a galvanizing, humorous, deeply moving portrait that instantly takes its place among the great, iconic screen performances."
And with the film apparently shot almost entirely hand-held, the look of the film has a certain low-rent grittiness to it that will hopefully be appealing and not distracting.

Wow. Who would've imagined that we'd hear the words "Mickey Rourke" and "Oscar" in the same sentence? Hard to believe as that might be, it seems that Searchlight might actually have a serious contender on their hands come February.

As always, stay tuned.

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