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Since the Academy extended its eligibility period for films to February 28, there are a number of films that have yet to release which could still be contenders for this year’s Oscars. Robin Wright’s feature directorial debut, Land, is one such film. Focus Features will release it February 12, just in time to be considered. Wright also stars in the film, and it could be the A-lister’s ticket to her first Oscar nomination, whether for her work in front of or behind the camera. 

Land follows the story of Edee (Wright), a woman who tragically loses her husband and son. Lost in her grief, Edee leaves everything she knows and retreats to the wilds of the Rocky Mountains. There she experiences both the beauty and brutality of nature, and a local hunter named Miguel (Demián Bichir) saves her from the brink of death. Edee has to discover for herself, though, a way to truly live again. 

If the trailer is any indication, Wright’s starring role is a gritty one, which could help her chances in the Best Actress race. The budding director shared in an interview that she wasn’t initially planning to star in Land, though. “We had 29 days to shoot this movie, and we had to capture four seasons over two years and we were running out of time [to cast Edee],” Wright told Entertainment Weekly. The producers had already seen her act out the role during meetings and suggested she play the character. Wright said her decision to do it was inspired by the fact that she’d already be on set to direct, so she might as well act, too.  

Starring in one’s feature directorial debut may seem like a big undertaking right out of the gate, but Wright already has previous experience juggling both roles thanks to the popular Netflix series House of Cards. The multi-hyphenate portrayed Claire Underwood on the show for all of its 73 episodes, 10 of which she also directed. And Wright noted her reason for choosing Land, written by Jesse Chatham, as her inaugural foray into directing film. “I just wanted to make something hopeful and kind,” she explained

The character of Miguel plays a big role in communicating that vision via the film’s story, as he assists Edee in her journey of both physical and emotional healing. Bichir has been nominated for an Oscar before, and time will tell if his performance in Land will earn him another nod. But regardless of if Wright’s feature directorial debut garners recognition from the Academy in either filmmaking or acting categories, Land appears to be a film that is very much needed in our current times. Besides the themes of hope and kindness it reportedly houses, the trailer also teases an important message about fortitude that can be found in the upcoming feature. “There are journeys we must take,” the trailer simply states. So while 2021 may be another year of dealing with the pandemic and its effects on the industry — complete with altered awards shows — Wright’s upcoming feature reminds us to keep moving forward. 

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