In the annals of biopic history, there are a ton of "documentary/narrative" companion pieces, where one could easily watch the non-fiction film, but sitting down with a bunch of ragingly-hot Hollywood stars playing their silver screen counterparts probably seems way more appealing to, oh, 95% of the moviegoing populace. Off the top of this writer's head: The Times of Harvey Milk and Milk stand out immediately, where the dramatazation even steals the original picture's ingenious structure, but plops in Sean Penn and James Franco canoodling for good measure (but I like both of those movies, so whatever).
This year, we'll witness this duality in action, with Betsy West and Julie Cohen’s RBG - which dropped in May to the tune of $12.5 million in BO receipts (Michael Bay numbers for a doc, really) - and then On the Basis of Sex, The Focus Features release starring Felicity Jones as a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Armie Hammer as her husband Martin D. Ginsburg, and is directed by Mimi Leder (Deep Impact).
Based on this trailer, On the Basis of Sex looks like the Hidden Figures version of an early legal endeavor in Ginsburg's life, as the young lawyer teams up with her husband to bring a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals that will overturn a century of gender discrimination. To give you an idea of what type of movie Focus is selling, the spot opens with a cover needle drop telling us "this is a man's world", before a character later says "this could topple the whole damn system" while some modern pop music blares in the background. Kathy Bates also shows up, bellowing something unitelligible, because she's gotta get paid, son.
Check it out:
The real interesting aspect of On the Basis of Sex is that this is Leder's first feature in almost a decade - her actioner The Peacemaker is pretty underrated if you ask this writer - before heading to TV and shining at HBO (acting as an EP on The Leftovers). So, I will watch this regardless of how bad this trailer looks, because Leder is a filmmaker who deserves our dollars.
Just in case you weren't completely sure if the term "Oscar Bait" applies to On the Basis of Sex, it's dropping in theaters December 25th, and will probably make more in its first week than RBG did during its entire run. Them's the breaks.