There is a longstanding correlation between an actor’s likelihood of winning an Academy Award and the amount of effort visible on screen. That’s why Leonardo DiCaprio is the odds-on favorite this year for The Revenant—the poor guy works so hard he looks as though he’s actually breaking bones for the cause. Eddie Redmayne, who won last year for his The Theory of Everything role as Stephen Hawking, is not taking this challenge lying down. Here he plays Einar Wegener, a Danish painter who underwent sex-reassignment surgery to become a woman, newly christened Lili Elbe. This true story happened in the early years of the 20th century, which makes it prime fodder for the period-decoration approach of director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech).
It is easier to deny God than Hollywood—just ask Stephen Hawking. Everybody’s favorite theoretical physicist now has a biopic devoted to his singular life; not surprisingly, it concentrates less on the information-paradox problem in black holes than on the love life of a man stricken with a debilitating illness.
The Theory of Everything opens with Hawking (played by Les Miz star Eddie Redmayne) as a young nerd at university, where his geeky manner doesn’t entirely derail his ability to woo future wife Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) or impress supervisor Dennis Sciama (David Thewlis).