Todd Haynes’ “May December” Looks Like a Serious Oscar Contender

The Portland director’s new psychological thriller debuts on Netflix this December.

May December (Netflix)

It’s a curious time to be Todd Haynes. In the wake of the massive success of Carol (2015), the iconic Portland filmmaker made two largely overlooked movies: the graphic novel adaptation Wonderstruck (2017) and the environmentalist thriller Dark Waters (2019).

Now, Haynes looks ready to reemerge as a formidable awards season contender. Following his well-reviewed documentary The Velvet Underground (2021), he has become a significant player in this year’s Oscar race with May December, a psychological thriller set to be released by Netflix.

May December revolves around Gracie (Julianne Moore, who also starred in Haynes’ Safe and Far From Heaven), a character who became a tabloid fixation after being caught having a sexual relationship with a seventh grader.

Also in the cast is Natalie Portman, playing an actress slated to portray Gracie in a film. Will All About Eve-style shenanigans ensue? It wouldn’t be surprising, given that Haynes is an obsessive student of classic cinema (he famously drew on Douglas Sirk’s melodramas for Far From Heaven).

May December first debuted at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was a notable hit. Now it has become one of the buzziest titles at the New York Film Festival, which will hopefully give it momentum through the long awards season corridor.

The film will begin streaming Dec. 1 on Netflix, following a limited theatrical release on Nov. 17. No screenings at Portland theaters have been announced, but don’t be surprised if the film shows up at Cinema 21 or the Hollywood Theatre. Both have a history of screening Netflix movies, and given Haynes’ Portland roots, a showing here seems like a no-brainer.

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