‘Howl’ Added to The Contenders as It Gains Domestic Distribution

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Aaron Tveit and James Franco in Howl
Photo: Oscilloscope Laboratories

I was 50/50 on whether or not I should add the Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman directed drama Howl to “The Contenders” after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival to mixed reviews, but now that it’s been picked up by Oscilloscope Laboratories it seems the perfect fit to push for a potential Best Actor nomination for James Franco.

Franco plays a young Allen Ginsberg in the eclectic feature that uses the famed writer’s obscenity trial launched to censor his groundbreaking book-length poem. The pair were approached by the Allen Ginsberg Trust to make a film commemorating the 50th anniversary of “Howl.”

I have yet to see the film, but I’m anxious as it seems to have polarized audiences as it contains an animated sequence by Berkeley’s Eric Drooker and a score by Carter Burwell, best known for scoring the work of the Coen brothers and most recently The Blind Side and Where the Wild Things Are.

In a press release announcing the news, David Fenkel, co-founder of Oscilloscope says, “At O-Scope we love working with passionate, creative filmmakers who make entertaining and meaningful films, and the team behind Howl perfectly fit this profile. They put together a great cast, lead by a performance by James Franco that people will be talking about for years.”

Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman say: “We’re very happy that Howl has found the perfect home and partners. Oscilloscope is the coolest company around.”

Recently Oscilloscope pushed hard to get Michelle Williams an Oscar nomination for her performance in Wendy and Lucy. They came up short, but she received a major push and ended up earning an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her work. I anticipate Franco getting similar buzz here along with his role in Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours also due out later this year and a surefire bet to earn him Oscar attention. Franco came close to an Oscar nomination in 2008 with Milk.

Oscilloscope will release Howl in theaters and VOD on September 24, 2010.

get my complete coverage of the Oscar race in the just launched “The Contenders” section of the site.