Focus Nabs Paul Schrader’s “The Card Counter”

Every once in a while, a film gets announced and you know you immediately want to see it. Not a comic book adaptation or sequel, but something that sounds amazing based solely on the talent involved. Ever since I heard about Paul Schrader's The Card Counter, I knew I was going to be eagerly anticipating the day I could see it. With movie theaters closed for the foreseeable future, there's no telling when that day will be. But after coronavirus-related delays, production has wrapped and the film has already lined up a distributor.

The Cannes Film Festival didn't take place as planned this year, but its market of films were as busy as ever. Focus Features, a division of Universal, has picked up the latest from Paul Schrader (First Reformed). That's in addition to Justin Chon's Blue Bayou. If they're released in some form before February 28, they could definitely be Oscar contenders. It certainly helps that Martin Scorsese is on board as an executive producer.

The Card Counter stars Oscar Isaac – one of the best actors working today – as a longtime gambler who teams up with a younger player (Tye Sheridan, X-Men: Apocalypse) to get revenge on Major John Gordo (Willem Dafoe). Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip) co-stars, taking another dramatic swing after last year's crime drama The Kitchen and Netflix's historical series Self Made. Hopefully this film will be much better than those well-intended but poorly received efforts.

While no release date has been announced, look for a prime awards-season spot later this fall.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.