THE FIGHTER is Crowd Pleaser, Christian Bale for Best Supporting Actor?

The word coming out of last night's World Premiere of David O. Russell's boxing drama The Fighter at Hollywood's Chinese Theatre is that Christian Bale is likely to walk away with a Best Supporting Actor nomination at next year's Oscars, which would actually be the Welsh born actor's first recognition from the Academy. Pete Hammond at Deadline, Anne Thompson at Indie Wire, Gregory Ellwood at Hitfix and Kris Tapley of In Contention all share this opinion from the early reviews I've read. The latter writing;
"He's mercilessly precise, committed and authentic as Ward's crack-addicted half-brother, Dickie Eklund, a former next-big-thing boxer who blew his chances and lives life vicariously through Ward. The film mostly concerns itself with that sibling relationship and finds its most profound notes of grace therein, and Bale is really something to behold throughout".
As for the film itself, it's been described as the kind of uplifting, crowd-pleasing and winning sporting drama of yesteryear - a good old fashioned 'against the odds' biopic that could step-up as an awards heavyweight. Though I remember saying the same thing about Cinderella Man a few years ago and what happened there? Jeff Sneider at The Wrap seems to find the conclusive note by saying;
"As far as The Fighter's awards potential is concerned, Best Picture is more of a probability than a possibility now that most of the contenders have been screened for critics".
The Fighter stars Mark Wahlberg (who is supposed to be impressive but not the career defining role we might have hoped for) as 'Irish' Mickey Ward, the true life boxer who aims to return to the ring after a long hiatus. Bale plays his half-brother and trainer Dickie Ecklund and from all the promotional material looks like he yet again dropped a ridiculous amount of weight for his art. Unlike when he did it for The Machinist, this the Academy could take notice. Supporting gigs from Amy Adams (as an attractive bartender Charlene who Mickey starts dating) and Melissa Leo (as their crazy and possessive mum) are also being praised. In fact, everyone seems to like the film bar Kirk Honeycutt who rights a slamming at The Hollywood Reporter;
€œmuch of this film, the viewer is turned into an observer. You never feel close enough to the action, either in the ring or in the kitchens, living rooms and tough streets where the story takes place. The characters engage you up to a point but never really pull you in. ... If Wahlberg hits the PA trail and critics respond, the film stands a chance for moderate box office and a nom or two. But the feeling persists that this is one that got away, that the film Wahlberg envisioned is not the film that ultimately got made. A central conflict never comes into clear focus.
The Fighter has more critics screenings to come this week before eventually hitting U.S. screens on December 10th.

Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.