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Why Battle Of The Sexes could be game, set and match during this year’s award season


With so many amazing films due for release in the coming months like Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Thor: Ragnarok, Blade Runner 2049 and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we can’t blame you if some films have slipped under your radar.

One such film may be sports biopic Battle of Sexes which tells the true story of a 1973 tennis match between world number one Billie Jean King and former champion Bobby Riggs.

Set to land in Cineworld on 24th November, you may not have heard about it, but this is definitely a film that should be on your watchlist, as it’s received huge Oscar buzz at Telluride Film Festival earlier this month. Here’s why Battle of the Sexes could be game, set and match during this year’s award season.

It's based on an inspirational true story

What do The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Zero Dark Thirty, The Danish Girl, and Hacksaw Ridge have in common? They’re all based on inspirational true stories and each of them has won at least one Oscar.

With this trend it’s easy to see that we’re all suckers for bio-pics that have something important to say about life. Whether it’s a message of immense bravery during the most terrifying times (Hacksaw Ridge), the story of someone just trying to be themselves (The Danish Girl) or overcoming the challenges life has given them (The Theory of Everything), these films are all valuable tales in themselves and so, too, is Battle of the Sexes.

It'a more than just a comedy-drama based on real-life events. It’s centred around King’s confrontation with gender inequality in tennis alongside America coming to terms with the feminist movement that swept through in the 1970s. In lieu of recent trending topics like female Hollywood stars arguing for equal pay, this is a topic that’s just as relevant today than it was back then.

It's got an amazing cast giving amazing performances

The movie sees Emma Stone portray tennis champion Billie Jean King and Steve Carrell as former champion Bobbie Riggs and if the thought of seeing these two onscreen together hasn’t got you excited, we don’t know what will.

Both Stone and Carrell are arguably in their prime right now with Stone winning a Best Actress award for La La Land last year. Carrell meanwhile has shown his serious side in recent films such as Café Society, the Oscar-winning The Big Short and with his seriously menacing, Oscar-nominated performance as John du Pont in Foxcatcher.

On the basis of the trailer and early reviews, the two's bickering chemistry is lively, memorable and topical: a partnership for the 21st century that's bound to get viewers engaging with themes of gender equality.

It's helmed by a directorial dream team

Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris may not be as instantly recognisable as Tarantino, Scorsese or Aronofsky but the fact this is their first film in five years is very exciting.

Although they’ve worked together mostly within music television with bands like REM, Smashing Pumpkins, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dayton and Faris are perhaps better known for their critically acclaimed feature Little Miss Sunshine.

The 2006 road trip movie blended delightful performances, heart and an understated sense of emotion. Plus, it saw Dayton and Faris' first collaboration with Steve Carell who excelled as depressive Proust scholar, Frank.

Given how much we love Little Miss Sunshine we can't wait to see the filmmakers apply their style to the tennis court drama of Battle of the Sexes.

It's written by a modern legend

Battle of the Sexes doesn’t just have an amazing cast and directors, its screenplay has also been written by one of today’s most gifted writers: Simon Beaufoy.

Over the years Beaufoy has established himself as one of cinema's greatest screenwriters with films such as The Full Monty, Slumdog Millionaire (which won him an Oscar), 127 Hours, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Everest.

Each of Beaufoy’s screenplays have been radically different in terms of narrative and genre but there is one aspect of his writing which consistently shines through each of his screenplays: character. In each of his films, characterisation is a huge focus whether it be the story of how someone who grew up in Indian slums is able to answer questions on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, or a film with about a man trapped on a mountain.

Beaufoy is a master of character building, which therefore makes him the perfect choice for Battle of the Sexes. It's a film about two characters locked in a rivalry, upon which hinges more than just personal reputations: this tennis match has the capacity to direct entire conversations about gender equality and women in the sport.

With superstar leads Stone and Carrell delivering outstanding performances, two acclaimed directors and a screenwriter famous for characters and emotion, not to mention its timely message, it looks like Battle of the Sexes could be game set and match during this year’s awards season.

Andy Murray is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.

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