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'Locke' Star Tom Hardy Makes Early Case for Oscar (Exclusive Video)

THR's awards analyst dissects the one man, one car film and exclusively unveils a making-of featurette that illustrates the challenges facing its 36-year-old star.

Was the first legitimate acting awards contender of 2014 unveiled this past weekend? According to a considerable number of respected pundits, the answer is yes: Tom Hardy in Locke, Steven Knight's 80-minute experimental film that features just one actor -- the 36-year-old Brit best known for Warrior (2011) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) -- and takes place entirely in a car as his character tries to extinguish numerous professional and personal crises via his phone while racing in the other direction to be with the person who caused them in the first place.

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If that reads like a bit of a tough sell, you can imagine that cutting an appealing trailer of it can't have been easy, either. For that reason, perhaps, distributor A24 has exclusively provided The Hollywood Reporter with this making-of featurette, which gives some context to the production and its aims. (Knight, who also wrote the film's script, previously scribed two other dark but estimable films, Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises.)

The film itself is not going to be everyone's cup of tea -- claustrophobes, in particular, will resist it -- but few will find fault with Hardy's performance under the most confined and solitary of circumstances (apart from his slightly strange, Indian-sounding accent), without which it would be nothing. He proves beyond a doubt that he is not just a hulking, brooding screen presence who looks a bit like Marlon Brando, but an actor who has the chops to carry a movie, quite literally on his own.

(For better or worse, he will do so next in the title role of this year's reboot of the Mad Max series.)

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg