When The Soloist
was originally intended to be a 2008 Oscar hopeful, the initial advertising campaign made it look like a cross between Shine
and A Beautiful Mind
. And the setup certainly smacks of Oscar bait: Los Angeles Times
columnist Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.), recovering from an especially nasty bike accident, meets the homeless Nathaniel Anthony Ayers (Jamie Foxx) during a walk through the park. Because Nathaniel plays a violin with just two strings -- and plays it rather well -- he catches Steve’s eye, and Steve, always on the lookout for a story, strikes up a conversation. When the obviously mentally ill Nathaniel mentions tha...