Racing to the top of the awards podium in 2020: fact-based racing biopic Le Mans '66, from Logan director James Mangold and starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale. And the first trailer has arrived, promising automotive action, mid-sixties finery and your favourite new screen partnership since Iron Man and Captain America parted ways.
The movie is based on the friendship forged amid the gasoline of the French 1966 Le Mans race – the 24 hour extravaganza that pushes racers to their limits. Damon is legendary car designer Carroll Shelby who is tasked with taking on automotive giant Ferrari. In order to do so, Shelby needs to enlist the help of hard-drinking maverick British racer Ken Miles (Christian Bale), in the process building a new vehicle that will define both of their careers.
Mangold won plaudits for his inversion of X-Men comic book tropes in Logan, less a superhero movie than an ultra-violent Western odyssey with Hugh Jackman's tormented Wolverine at its centre. He also steered Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon to awards success in Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. He believes the true story of Shelby and Miles's battle sends off intoxicating fumes of underdog victory that speak to all of us.
"I love stories that take you to a time when we were a little less cautious," says Mangold, "when we were first figuring out our relationship to technology, how we were going to make excellent tools and faster better contraptions based upon our instincts more than computer models. Now, we’ve become so corporate, liability-protected, computer simulated and risk averse it’s hard to imagine the same kind of discovery is even possible. The eccentric characters who pioneered racing, much like our astronauts and test pilots, put their lives on the line every day.
"The cars were prototypes, one of a kind, and sometimes death traps, dawning-age beasts so powerful they could tear themselves apart. The men behind the wheel and in the pits and garages came from all walks of life, speed junkies, technical engineers, entrepreneurs, military men, street racers, gamblers, designers, hot rodders, and car geeks, young and old. All working together at the very edge of technology without a map."
Co-written by British playwright Jez Butterworth (Jerusalem; The Ferryman), there's no denying the fine pedigree of this potential awards contender. Le Mans '66 is released on 8th November during the peak season for Oscar hype, so let us know @Cineworld if you think it stands a chance.