Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: Grace of Monaco vs. Saving Mr. Banks, two biopics telling the strenuous tales of two leading ladies.
PremiseThe offer to play Grace Kelly is perhaps one of the best compliments we could dream of receiving, and Nicole Kidman is lucky enough to have been deemed worthy. In Grace of Monaco, we watch as Grace Kelly—newly named the Princess of Monaco—struggles with her identity during the six-month period following her marriage to Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth). Set in the early 1960s amongst political conflicts between Monaco and France, we see the lovers confront both relationship and political crises. However, while Kelly may be one of the most beautiful women in history, her competition has miraculous talents: she can fit everything in a carpetbag and suavely float through the air with an umbrella. Yes, we’re talking about Mary Poppins. Saving Mr. Banks tells the untold tale of how Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) transformed Mary Poppins from a children’s literature character to a beloved screen character. What we didn’t know is that it took Disney nearly 20 years to acquire the rights from the book’s uncompromising author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson). The key to his eventual success? Delving into childhood memories and releasing many ghosts that haunted Travers. We adore Grace Kelly, but we already know her story. We want to know what secrets Travers withheld.Advantage: Saving Mr. Banks
Leading ActorsOne-time Oscar Award-winning female lead versus two-time Oscar Award-winning female lead: Nicole Kidman vs. Emma Thompson. With two of our favorite actresses appearing alongside actors Tom Hanks and Tim Roth, respectively, these casts are nearly on an equal playing field. We are insanely jealous of Kidman’s role and cannot wait to see her grace the screen. Similarly, Thompson has proved herself in nanny roles already, so we’re sure her performance will be flawless. The decision comes down to the male actors, in which case we’d have to favor Roth. Now don’t get us wrong—we’re as obsessed with Forrest Gump and Catch Me if You Can as much as anyone—but we find it a little difficult to picture Hanks as Disney.Advantage: Grace of Monaco
RumorsWhile Saving Mr. Banks is rumored to be a box-office and holiday season hit, Grace of Monaco is suffering from a delayed release. The release of the film, which once had hopes of 2014 Oscar nominations, was pushed from this November to March 2014 due to strife between director Olivier Dahan and producer Harvey Weinstein. Dahan recently said that according to him, the film is finished, but that Weinstein is pressing for a “sanitized” and Hollywood friendly version of the film. In fact, Dahan wasn’t even consulted before the trailer leaked in September. We aren’t too fond of drama—and certainly not when it prohibits Oscar nomination—so this one goes to rumor-free Saving Mr. Banks.Advantage: Saving Mr. Banks.
Soundtrack “O Mio Babbino Caro,” from the Puccini opera Giana Schicci, or Jason Schwartzman singing “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” We appreciate classic operas, but honestly, we also fall asleep.Advantage: Saving Mr. Banks
The Darker Side of DreamsAlmost every little girl dreams of being a princess or movie star, but both of these films prove glamour might not live up to everything it’s supposed to be. Much more than a tiara and gown, as a princess who abandoned her acting career for marriage, Grace Kelly is forced to interfere in her husband’s political affairs with French President Charles de Gaulle. On the other hand, who wouldn’t want to make a movie with Walt Disney? Well, apparently Travers. The partnership between P.L. Travers and Disney had its pitfalls, but at the end of the day, we’d rather watch suave European politicians backstab each other.Advantage: Grace of Monaco
Sense of PlaceBoth films take place in the 1960s, but one stays in America and takes us to Disneyland while the other travels to throughout France, Morocco, and Italy, bringing us to beaches, palaces, and decadent galas. Need we say more?Advantage: Grace of Monaco
The VerdictNostalgia drives us toward Saving Mr. Banks and admittedly, we also want to know what lies beneath the surface of our childhood favorite, but realistically speaking, we’d rather stare at the woman we try to emulate. Until Weinstein and Dahan resolve their disputes, we’ll be on the edge of our seats waiting.Winner: Grace of Monaco