‘The Whale’ trailer premieres: is Brendan Fraser the frontrunner for best actor?

I’ve talked about Samuel D Hunter’s The Whale so much I didn’t realize it hadn’t opened yet. But it just ran the film festival circuit to great success. Now, however, the first trailer dropped, and we finally get to see what all the yelling is about. Or clapping, rather. The film’s gotten a lot of press so far, some good, and some not so good. But almost everyone agrees that star Brendan Fraser is a standout. Not just that everyone is thrilled for his comeback, but he turns in a powerhouse performance. So much so that he is presently poised as a frontrunner for best actor.

Brendan Fraser’s highly-acclaimed comeback is front and center in the first trailer for “The Whale,” the latest film from director Darren Aronofsky (“Requiem for a Dream,” “Black Swan”) and A24.

“The Whale” follows Charlie (Fraser), an English teacher living with obesity who has decided to eat himself to death. His pain and misery stems from the abandonment and death of his gay lover, leading to chronic binge-eating. Meanwhile, Charlie struggles to reconnect with his 17-year-old daughter, played by “Stranger Things” favorite Sadie Sink. Now, the 600-pound man has one last shot at redemption with his child.

“The Whale” emerged from the fall festival circuit with rave reviews for Fraser’s performance, which earned a six-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival that reduced the actor to tears. Screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival and the London Film Festival earned similar standing ovations for Fraser. For many Oscar pundits, Fraser is the frontrunner for best actor.

“It felt so affirming,” Fraser told Variety in October regarding enthusiasm surrounding his appearances through the fall festivals. “I was emotional because it was acknowledgment that what we did is making an impact. And that kind of response feels completely new in my professional life.”

[From Yahoo!]

I’d love to see Brendan win an Oscar. I already know he’d make us cry in his acceptance speech. But I want to see him win the Golden Globe. Since it was the HFPA that sunk his career, let them be the first to recognize what’s owed him. Unfortunately, there will be controversy surrounding any recognition for this role due to the prosthetics. But from everything I’ve heard so far, Brendan really is incredible. I’ve posted the trailer below. He only speaks a couple of lines so it’s hard to gauge. However, he does a great job with the few we hear.

What’s interesting is this is also considered a comeback of sorts for Darren Aronofsky. His last film was Mother! and lord knows how that turned out. But nobody is really bringing him into the discussion, only Brendan. To Aronofsky’s credit, he is letting Brendan fully have the moment

Here’s the trailer for The Whale, which comes out Dec 9:

Photo credit: Cover Images, YouTube and Ottavia Da Re/Agenzia Sintesi/Avalon

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15 Responses to “‘The Whale’ trailer premieres: is Brendan Fraser the frontrunner for best actor?”

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  1. Lady Baden-Baden says:

    Although I’ve heard unanimous praise for Fraser, I think his chances will be hurt by the reaction to the film. As well as some disappointing reviews, a lot of people are accusing it of “fatphobia”

    • Renee' says:

      Agreed. I’m thrilled for Brendan and his resurgence. But I’ve read & heard the movie treats his obesity as a more of a punchline. I have not seen it yet so hope that isn’t true.
      However, Aronofsky doesn’t instill much hope in me after his mother! movie debacle.

  2. TikiChica says:

    I’d love him to win, but fat suits are controversial.

  3. Jo says:

    Morbid obesity is a disease, or a condition like anxiety or cancer (of course comparisons have their limitations and I know mine do, but it’s a parallel). Asking a morbidly obese person to act in this film is like asking a real cancer patient losing their hair to play a cancer patient losing their hair. Prosthetics are necessary because you’re not going to do that. It can be dangerous for the person, triggering and it’s extremely vulnerable.
    I find this conversation irritating because it detracts from the important issue of representation when and where it is due, with minorities.
    I can’t imagine going round to a morbidly obese person and ask: do you want to play a character that eats themselves to death?
    That said, I really find Aronosfky’s imagination problematic but that may be another issue. He comes across as someone who projects onto others (women, mothers, athletes, etc.) highly disturbing obsessions. I’m not a fan.

    • SarahCS says:

      That’s an interesting take on this.

      To your point about Aronofsky and his take on the subject, some of what I’ve seen in reviews is criticism of how the character is shown and that this isn’t necessarily sympathetic – him not being able to bend and pick something us is presented as humorous. I (obviously) haven’t seen the film but it’s a line of criticism I’ve seen more than once from those who have.

      • Jess says:

        I’ve heard the same about Darren and this film as well. That it really lingers on and mocks the main character’s size. Between that and the fat suit I’m out.

    • Enis says:

      This isn’t just morbid obesity being portrayed – it’s Binge Eating Disorder, which as the film shows, is as deadly as any other eating disorder. As someone who struggles, it’s going to be interesting to see it portrayed on film.

  4. SAS says:

    I already know the film will not be for me but I hope he has a fulfilling awards season. I hope he’s feeling happy and healthy. And omg that Venice pic is so cute!

  5. CC says:

    I’m happy for Brendan Fraser and hope this leads to better, steadier projects for him.
    However, Bill Nighy in a remake of “Ikiru” with a screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro? I’m emotionally devastated just thinking about it.

  6. Janey says:

    Something about this makes me deeply uncomfortable. The subject matter, the name, the director. I hope Brendan makes a joyous comeback but I don’t think this is for me.

  7. Emmi says:

    I love Breandan Fraser but I think I’ll pass on this one and dust off my DVD of Mrs. Winterbourne.

    The title alone makes me think that Darren Aronofsky of all people has not handled this subject matter with great sensitivity. Based on his past films, I just don’t see it. That’s not his lane. I could be wrong but I don’t think I’m in the mood for this kind of film right now.

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      Darren Aronofsky seems to really lean in to the grotesquery of his characters’ lives at the expense of their humanity. I’ll root for Brendan, though.

  8. Twin Falls says:

    I’m in the this film doesn’t sound like it’s for me camp.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I have not seen the film, though I am rooting for Brendan personally. He seems so genuinely grateful for a resurgence and a good role.

    That being said, I thought Austin Butler in Elvis was absolutely mesmerizing! I hope he’s nominated and I think he would be tough to beat.

  10. Case says:

    Everything I’ve read about the plot sounds like it kinda demonizes and looks judgmentally upon obese people, when in reality there are so many factors as to why people struggle with their weight — and there’s already a very real problem of overweight people not getting the care they need from doctors because EVERYTHING is blamed on their weight and so other problems go unsolved or overlooked.

    Happy Brendan is getting recognition, but I really hope this narrative isn’t rewarded. Even though he didn’t write the story, I can’t ignore the fact that he decided this was a worthy story to tell.