As the last vestiges of the late summer/early fall movie slump roll to an end and awards season comes out of hibernation, expectations for Brooklyn are high. Between Birdman, Wild and The Grand Budapest Hotel, distributor Fox Searchlight was the uncontested MVP of last year’s Oscars, and this year Brooklynlooks to be their heavyweight contender. Snapped up for a reported $9 million days after its Sundance premiere, the film hits U.S. theatres on Nov. 4, a case of prime “Hey Oscars, look at me!” positioning. The pedigree is there, too: Saoirse Ronan, an Oscar nominee at 13 for Joe Wright’s Atonement, stars, working from a script by Wild scribe Nick Hornby.Hornby’s source material is Irish literary icon Colm Tóibín’s 2009 novel of the same name, about a young woman who immigrates from a sleepy Irish village to bustling Brooklyn in the early 1950s. Historical drama: Check. On a surface, somewhat mercenary level, everything about Brooklyn spells award-season catnip.
None of that matters to director John Crowley, who, speaking the day after Brooklyn’s New York Film Festival premiere, comes across as not wanting much to do with Hollywood’s Oscar-industrial complex. A film, theatre and TV director who gave Andrew Garfield his first pre-The Social Network break with 2007’s heartbreaking Boy A, Crowley broke out of the independent film arena for 2013’s poorly received thriller Closed Circuit. The experience taught him, above all else, that what he really wants to do is “make smaller, independent projects.”