Robert De Niro enters Oscar race with "The Comedian"

Deniro on the set of the recently wrapped "The Comedian"

Given that I'm a diehard Robert De Niro fan and I have been disheartened the last couple of decades by his lack of quality roles, that hasn't stopped me from following whatever projects he signs on to because, well, I'm a hopeful person and I know the man still has it in him to deliver something special. Look what he did in "Silver Linings Playbook," such a comic, resonant and touching performance which earned him a well-deserved Oscar nomination.

With all that in mind I have been following "The Comedian" with a close eye for a couple of years now. At some point Mike Newell was supposed to direct the film, with a script by Comedian Jeff Ross no less, finally Taylor Hackford ("Ray") took over. The film began production this past February. I did not expect it to get released this year, but, lo and behold, it was just announced that Sony Pictures Classics has so much confidence in the film that it will have an Oscar qualifying run this coming December! They test screened it a week ago and word on Twitter was that it was "very funny" and De Niro "killed it." Word of mouth was so encouraging it seems that they believe it should qualify for awards.

The film tracks the highs and lows, the life and times if you will, of an aging insult comic. If that isn't enough, Harvey Keitel co-stars and we all know the legendary cinematic relationship both actors had with Scorsese back in the 70s with "Taxi Driver" and "Mean Streets." Hackford whose credits as a director include "An Officer and a Gentleman," successfully directed Jamie Foxx to Oscar glory in 2004 with "Ray." Here's hoping he does the same for De Niro this year. Wouldn't that be something?

Courtesy of Deadline:

"Get ready to amend those early Oscar season handicapping odds! Sony Pictures Classics has acquired from Cinelou The Comedian, and will set the picture for release in Oscar season. SPC bought North American rights to the Taylor Hackford-directed film stars Robert De Niro as an insult comic in career and personal crisis, and word is that it is the strongest performance in years for De Niro, the two-time Oscar winning actor who was last nominated for Silver Linings Playbook in 2013. The plan is to release early next year, with a qualifying run in late December. I’m hearing that a possible launch of the picture at the upcoming AFI is a strong possibility. Warner Bros International has foreign on the picture through its deal with Cinelou."

“Robert De Niro has been nurturing this story for years, so we’re incredibly honored to have been able to help bring it to life,” said Canton. “Sony Classics is tailor-made to release the film, as Michael Barker and Tom Bernard have the perfect sensibility for it.’ Said Solomon: “There’s amazing chemistry between Bob and leslie. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, but both of these actors have a talent for injecting drama into all the right places, creating a great balance between the humor and drama."