We’re rapidly approaching the end of this year’s extended Oscar eligibility period and there’s one more contender that needs to be highlighted before February 28. With its theatrical release just two days before that cut-off date, the Russo brothers’ Cherry is a last-minute entry that is generating some serious Oscar buzz. The film centers on the title character, a former U.S. Army medic played by Tom Holland, who returns home from Iraq to his beloved partner Emily (Ciara Bravo). But, Cherry struggles with PTSD and develops an opioid addiction, which leads to a downward spiral of robbing banks to fund the habit.
Joe and Anthony Russo told Variety that they grew up in the same neighborhood of Cleveland as Nico Walker, author of the semi-autobiographical novel from which the film was adapted. Their sister Angela Russo-Otstot co-wrote the screenplay — alongside Jessica Goldberg — so Cherry was definitely a family effort, which makes sense in light of the Russos’ personal connection to one of the topics it covers. “Understanding this [opioid] crisis firsthand, seeing how it’s affected people we love, we felt we had to tell a story that was as truthful as possible about it to help generate a conversation,” Joe Russo shared during the Variety interview.
The Russo brothers may be best known for their work within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most recently with 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. Cherry is a big departure from the superhero genre and time will tell if the upcoming heavy drama earns the pair their first Oscar nominations. The character of Cherry is also a far cry from Peter Parker, the well-known role that Holland played in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far from Home.
Holland’s portrayal of Spider-Man in other Marvel films means that he’s worked with the Russo brothers before, but even they were impressed by his capability with the heavy role of Cherry. “Joe and I were surprised ourselves to see how thoroughly committed he was to every facet of that character,” Anthony Russo told Vanity Fair. “The darkest, most difficult sides of that character, he really embraced them and ran at them and tried to give them life within himself in a way that not a lot of people could pull off.”
We’ll see if the performance lands the 24-year-old actor his first-ever Oscar nomination. In its analysis of latecomers to the Oscar race, IndieWire listed a Best Actor nod for Holland as the film’s best chance of landing a nomination this year. Bravo could also earn recognition from the Academy for her work as Emily, and other members of the cast such as Jack Reynor and Forrest Goodluck may be considered for the supporting acting categories.
Cherry qualifies for consideration by the Academy thanks to its release in select theaters on February 26, but it won’t be available to at-home viewers until March 12 when it starts streaming on Apple TV+. You can decide for yourself the film’s Oscar-worthiness at that time, unswayed by this year’s list of nominations, which aren’t announced until March 15. In the meantime, you can find a preview of the film here.