Belfast Telegraph

Will Silence be golden for Liam? Next year will be Neeson's best shot at Oscar glory

By Nevin Farrell

Liam Neeson's much-anticipated new blockbuster is due to be released late this year - and could provide the Ballymena man with his best chance ever to grab an Oscar.

Martin Scorsese's upcoming 'Silence' will be released in either November or December - just in time to be in the running for the 2017 Academy Awards.

With the weight of Scorsese - the Oscar-winning director of Hollywood classics such as Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and Raging Bull - behind Silence, Neeson will be hoping his particular set of skills can at long last land him acting's highest accolade.

Neeson has been huge in the action movie category in recent years after the massive global success of the Taken franchise. However, last year he said he was thinking of slowing down and quitting action movies.

The closest Neeson (64) came to grabbing an Oscar was when he was nominated for best actor in 1994 following the critically-acclaimed Schindler's List.

He played World War Two German industrialist Oskar Schindler who saved the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust.

The actor lost out to Tom Hanks for his performance in Philadelphia - but hype and Scorsese go hand in hand and it could be enough to propel Neeson over the line at the glittering ceremony on February 26 next year.

And if Neeson does get an award at the 89th Oscars next year no one could say he did not work hard for it.

He dropped a considerable amount of weight to play his role in Silence - and his gaunt appearance had fans questioning his health in 2014 whilst the film was being shot on location in Taiwan.

Silence is a historical drama written by Jay Cocks, based upon the novel of the same name by Shusaku Endo.

It also stars Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Tadanobu Asano, and Belfast's Ciarán Hinds.

In the film two Portuguese Jesuit priests face violent persecution when they travel to 17th century Japan to seek out their mentor and spread the teachings of Christianity.

In January 2014, Neeson joined the film as the mentor, Fr Cristóvão Ferreira.

Ironically, the heavy religious theme had led to speculation that Silence might get a January release to avoid competition with feel-good flicks in the weeks before Christmas. But producer Irwin Winkler has now confirmed the film will be released "at the end of the year".

The news prompted US media speculation that the movie could be a contender for an Oscar in a year with little remarkable competition.

Neeson said the project resonated for him because of his Catholic upbringing and that the central question of the film is: "Is there a God?"

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