In the shadow of the opioid crisis, a reemergence of methamphetamine addiction has quietly devastated communities across the US. But while the morbid consequences of heroin addiction have been immortalized on the silver screen in movies like Requiem for a Dream, Trainspotting, and Candy, AMC’s Breaking Bad is one of the few series or films to explore the cycle of meth production and abuse.
Now, with Beautiful Boy from Amazon Studios, the story of meth addiction is getting a star-studded cast and Oscar bait plot line. In the film’s trailer, which premiered Wednesday, 22-year-old Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird star Timothée Chalamet and acting veteran Steve Carell play a father-son duo grappling with Chalamet’s character’s meth habit — and it’s rooted in real experiences.
Beautiful Boy’s Real-Life Inspiration
Chalamet’s youthful presence in last year’s awards circuit has already bequeathed him with a strong fan following. But the film’s subject matter, limited release, and R-rating indicate it isn’t intended for popular consumption. Some fans have already warned against romanticizing Chalamet’s character and subsequent drug use, noting that the real Nic Sheff wasn’t so lucky to receive a Hollywood ending (he’s still alive, and is reportedly still clean, but his father’s memoir concluded with assertion that permanent recovery was unlikely).
Beautiful Boy’s Oscar Bid
The movie is scheduled to be released on October 12 in select theaters around the country, at the peak of critically-acclaimed film debuts that jostle for Oscar season success. And with both its leads already claiming Oscar nominations, and a supporting cast that includes Golden Globe winner Maura Tierney and fellow Oscar nominee Amy Ryan, there’s no doubt that Beautiful Boy is intended, at least in part, to maximize Amazon’s awards potential.
How actual addicts or affected families will feel about an apparent award bid when considering the tragic circumstances that affect so many middle- and lower-class Americans is yet to be seen. The Oscars and its award winners have fallen under fire time and time again for everything from white-washing to poverty porn and, of course, the #MeToo movement.
But the Academy certainly loves a timely, gritty story packed with riveting, emotional performances, and there’s no doubt that a conversation will be had about Beautiful Boy’s merits as well as its pitfalls.