2016 Awards Profile: ‘The Girl on the Train’ from Tate Taylor


Welcome to the 2016 Awards Profiles series, where we talk about high and low-profile films coming to a theater near you at some point this year. We will analyze the potential for these films to be players for the Academy Awards, and while many of these have the potential to be recognized, many will not either by quality or being pushed back to the following year. For the next eight weeks, we will bring you a film every weekday to talk about their potential. If you have a suggestion, please include it in the comments below. If you missed a film, click on the tag or category Awards Profile.

Director: Tate Taylor

Writer: Erin Cressida Wilson
Based on the novel ‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins

Cast: Haley Bennett, Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson

girlonthetrain_bluntSynopsis: The Girl on the Train is the story of Rachel Watson’s life post-divorce. Every day, she takes the train in to work in London, and every day the train passes by her old house. The house she lived in with her husband, who still lives there, with his new wife and child. As she attempts to not focus on her pain, she starts watching a couple a few houses down — Megan and Scott Hipwell. She creates a wonderful dream life for them in her head, about how they are a perfect happy family. And then one day, as the train passes, she sees something shocking, filling her with rage. The next day, she wakes up with a horrible hangover, various wounds and bruises, and no memory of the night before. She has only a feeling: something bad happened. Then come the TV reports: Megan Hipwell is missing. Rachel becomes invested in the case and trying to find out what happened to Megan, where she is, and what exactly she herself was up to that same night Megan went missing.

Why It Might Succeed: Already being tipped as the next Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train should have no problem generating buzz well ahead of its October 7 release date, the same weekend that worked like gangbusters for the former. The film is adapted from the bestselling novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins, with a mysterious premise that should make for a cracking screenplay. Much of the plot will center around Rachel Watson, a coveted role which will be played by the talented Emily Blunt. As one of today’s most popular actresses, Blunt should be have no problem garnering an overdue Best Actress nod if she nails the role. And she’ll have a strong cast supporting her, including last year’s breakout star Rebecca Ferguson.

Behind the camera will be Tate Taylor, a director who is no stranger to awards season, having led The Help to four major Oscar nominations from an atypical summer release date. Further down the line, the film will also rely heavily on its editing, which will fortunately be handled by former Oscar nominee Michael McCusker (Walk the Line). Charlotte Bruus Christensen will also bring a skilled eye  as the cinematographer. So all in all, it seems like the right pieces are in place for this enticing cinematic puzzle.

Why It Might Fail: Though the handsome Tate Taylor was a well-liked presence during the awards campaign for The Help, his direction of the film was often criticized for its overly glossy approach to a very dark period in American history. And all his films thus far have been more upbeat entertainers. Will he be able to handle the more serious tonal demands of a mystery thriller? Speaking of genre, how will Academy voters respond to the film? As we saw 2 years ago, even the pop culture impact of Gone Girl wasn’t enough to overcome the safer comforts of the more “respectable” period dramas.

In addition, there’s the question of whether such a female-centric film will play well to the predominantly male Academy membership. While AMPAS is taking steps towards increasing diversity, it may still take a while for the general Academy taste to change. But perhaps the film’s Britishness will give it a “prestige” sheen that will work in its favor.

Oscar Potential:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director
  • Best Actress – Emily Blunt
  • Best Supporting Actress – Rebecca Ferguson
  • Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Film Editing

Share your thoughts in the comments or on the message forums!

Check out the first official set of
Year-In-Advanced Oscar Predictions
and see where The Girl on the Train ranks!