Clint Eastwood‘s "The Mule" was supposed to be the last Oscar contender to be screened for critics this year. It opens in 11 days (on 12.13), but you wouldn't know that based on Warner Bros. refusing to screen it for any critics groups.
Jeffrey Wells over at HE says "Guys who routinely see films a couple of weeks ahead of commercial opening are hearing nothing but “radio silence” from WB publicists when they call and ask."
This "radio silence" is obviously of major concern in terms of the sheer confidence the WB might have with the film's awards chances. The fact that the studio decided to slot the film around Christmas time does offer up a hint of confidence in the film's box-office prospects, after all, Eastwood has built up a considerable conservative fanbase of movie fans over the years. His name is now synonymous and represents many values within that base, they will go to see whatever movie he directs or stars just purely based on those beliefs ("Gran Torino," The 15:17 to Paris," American Sniper," "Sully.")
However, ever since the Obama/Chair "incident," critics have been ganging up against Eastwood. I don't see how "The Mule" could be any different, especially with, from what I've heard, people already complaining about the way Hispanic characters are depicted in the film.
When it comes to the Hispanic depictions, Wells has this to say, "As I understand it the Hispanic bad guy depictions are no biggie. What Eastwood has done isn’t that different from most drug dramas. Three years ago it probably wouldn’t be an issue at all. Obviously today is another story.