The drama Black or White (previously called Black and White) starring Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer will get a one-week awards-qualifying run this December. Directed by Mike Binder (The Upside of Anger, Reign Over Me), the film made its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival and was recently acquired for U.S. distribution by Relativity Media. This movie marks the latest in a string of late-entry Toronto titles to be granted a 2014 awards run, following the Julianne Moore-headlined Still Alice, and Cake starring Jennifer Aniston.
In Black or White, Costner plays a widower and guardian to his bi-racial granddaughter. The story gets going when the little girl’s paternal grandmother (played by Spencer) seeks custody of the child. An ensuing legal battle forces both characters to confront their personal feelings on race and compassion. Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker), Gillian Jacobs (Community), Bill Burr (The Heat), and Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty) round out the cast. While the performances earned a fair amount of praise, the film itself received a mixed reception out of Toronto, which might make it tough for the film to gain traction in the awards race.
However, Costner is a previous Oscar winner, earning two statues for directing and producing Dances with Wolves (and earning a third nomination for acting). While recent titles like Draft Day and 3 Days to Kill never went anywhere, the actor has been on something of upswing in recent years with his poignant performance in Man of Steel as Jonathan Kent, and his Emmy-winning role in the mini-series Hatfields and McCoys. Costner previously worked with Binder on The Upside of Anger, a film for which the actor received strong reviews. Spencer is a previous Oscar winner herself, winning for her supporting performance in the 2011 hit The Help. The actress came close just last year to a nomination with a critically admired turn in Fruitvale Station, and has since made vivid impressions in a wide range of films including Snowpiercer and Get On Up.
All of this makes for a solid pedigree for Black or White, and Relativity doesn’t have anything else on its roster to push this year (the distributor’s titles this year include The Best of Me, The November Man, and Costner’s own 3 Days to Kill). Black or White will open for one-week starting December 3rd before regular limited engagements begin on January 23, 2015, with possible expansion on January 30, 2015.