Written by Bill Bodkin and Justin Matchick
Release Date: September 23, 2015
Starring: Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Lee Pace, Dustin Hoffman, Jesse Plemons.
Director: Stephen Frears (Philomena, High Fidelity)
Pre-Trailer Thought: The idea of a Lance Armstrong biopic has been floating around Hollywood for years, going back to before he became the focal point of one of the biggest doping scandals in sports history. Now it’s being tackled by director Stephen Frears, who is perhaps best know for his recent Oscar-nominated biographical movies The Queen and Philomena. Movies based on true events are plentiful during the Oscar season, but to have one based on such a recent news story that wound up being one of the biggest downfalls of a sports figure is particularly exciting to me. –JTM
Pre-Trailer Thought: I had no idea this movie existed until Justin suggested it for this week. The idea of a Lance Armstrong film, with this cast and crew attached to it, sounds very promising. –BB
Rate the Trailer: 4 out of 5. This looks to be a very taught thriller, which is surprising for a film based on cycling. Shots of the Tour de France courses are stunning, as are the powerful closeups of Armstrong as he trains, and cheats, for his next title. The cast looks amazing, with The IT Crowd’s Chris O’Dowd as the journalist investigating the doping claims against Armstrong and Ben Foster looking incredibly intense as Armstrong himself. The few scenes we see of Foster of Armstrong show off what will be a possibly Oscar-nominated performance, as he exudes confidence and lies through his teeth to millions of fans with a steely-eyed persona. The supporting cast, including Jesse Plemons as fellow cyclist Floyd Landis and Lee Pace as the cycling team manager, is fantastic as well. –JTM
Rate the Trailer: 4 out of 5. Color me impressed. First, can we talk about how amazing Ben Foster looks in this trailer? Foster is extremely underrated, and it’s great to see him get a high profile role like this. Also, Chris O’Dowd. Most people might be scratching their head at him in a serious role, but like many great comedic actors, there’s a flair for drama in there. I think he’ll be great in this. While we didn’t see too much of Lee Pace, I think he’ll deliver a phenomenal supporting performance. The cat-and-mouse aspect of this trailer really makes me want to see the film – despite the fact I know the outcome already. That, right there is something special. –BB
Theater, Rent, Undecided, No Thanks: Theater. I’ve been a fan of Frears’ films in the past, High Fidelity in particular, and with The Program he seems intent on scoring big during awards season once again. I’m a big fan of sports movies and biographies and, although cycling was never my favorite sport, the catastrophic downfall of the empire Armstrong built around himself is one of the biggest sports stories of the past 15 years and absolutely deserves a film of this caliber. Great casting, great director, based off of an amazing true story, this is all adding up to me seeing it in theaters. –JTM
Theater, Rent, Undecided, No Thanks: Theater. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this impressed by a trailer. Again, I have to reiterate that I know how this movie is going to play out (we all do), and I still want to plop down money to see this in the local cineplex. That speaks volumes to this film’s potential. I love the cast in this film, and Frear’s previous films like High Fidelity were awesome. This has Oscar bait written all over it, and I am a sucker for Oscar-worthy films. I’m really amped for this one.
The Program hits theaters on September 23, 2015