2017 Awards Profile: Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Call Me By Your Name’ from Sony Pictures Classics

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Welcome to the 2017 Awards Profile 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 few weeks, we will bring you a film every Monday and Wednesday 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.

FILM: “Call My By Your Name”

PRODUCERS: Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges, James Ivory, Marco Morabito, Howard Rosenman, Peter Spears, Rodrigo Teixeira

DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Classics

DIRECTOR: Luca Guadagnino

WRITERS: Luca Guadagnino, James Ivory, Walter Fasano

CAST: Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel

SYNOPSIS (via iMDB): Summer of 1983, Northern Italy. An American-Italian is enamored by an American student who comes to study and live with his family. Together they share an unforgettable summer full of music, food, and romance that will forever change them.

WHY IT MIGHT SUCCEED: Few films were as talked about during this year’s Sundance Film Festival than “Call Me By Your Name.” This led it to be one of the first deals to be made at the festival. Sony Pictures Classics snatched it up as soon as possible, noticing strong prospects with the film. The film was from a famous Italian director and was a tender homosexual romance. It had many ingredients that would fill headlines. On top of that, the rave reviews poured in. If the film lives up to the hype, there are few categories it wouldn’t fall in.

Despite no previous nominations for any cast members, they are far from newbies. Armie Hammer first made waves as twin Harvard entrepreneurs in Best Picture nominee “The Social Network.” Since that seismic breakthrough, Hammer has been on the cusp of movie stardom. Yet, his starring roles in “Mirror Mirror,” “The Lone Ranger” and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” all failed to take off commercially. Perhaps coming back to Oscar films can help him. Star Timothée Chalamet is most famous for “Interstellar.” However, this indie could propel him to the top of the most talented young actor lists. Both stars are primed for the stardom this film could bring them.

While the faces in front of the camera are relatively new, one major force behind the camera has been around the block a few times. Producer and writer James Ivory returns to writing after a 14 year absence. The legend has earned three Oscar nominations for directing in the ’80s and ’90s. His British period films, such as “A Room with a View,” “Howards End” and “The Remains of the Day,” were Oscar magnets. Though it has been a while since his heyday, he does carry a major Oscar IOU after these losses. Might he cash it in on this return?

The setting of the film will be hard to resist. Italy in the summer seems primed for beautifully sun-drenched shots. The cinematography branch may want to take note. Guadagnino’s previous film “I Am Love” reaped a costume design nomination, despite being a modern Italian film. While the costume branch has hardly seen the ’80s as period, it could take to this film. Even production design could be pulled in if the Oscars really fall in love with Italy in the summertime.

WHY IT MIGHT NOT SUCCEED: Even though “Moonlight” pulled off a surprise win for Best Picture, gay films still face an uphill battle at the Oscars. This is still the same group that voted for “Crash” over “Brokeback Mountain” and snubbed “Carol” in Best Picture. Additionally, the film deals with a relationship with a minor, adding another controversial element that may turn more conservative voters off of the film. While this won’t doom it in all categories, it could spell trouble for Best Picture. Worst case scenario, it could wind up nomination-less like another well-reviewed queer coming of age film, “Blue is the Warmest Color.”

Director Luca Guadagnino has inspired strong reviews before, but not much Oscar attention. His most famous films have been his collaborations with Tilda Swinton. These films include “I Am Love” (2010) and last year’s “A Bigger Splash.” Despite numerous projects, particularly in the foreign film and documentary fields, Guadagnino has never been nominated for an Oscar. In fact, the only nomination his films received was a Costume Design nod for “I Am Love.” Every director needs to have a breakout. However, could it be too early for Guadagnino to have his without any prior Oscar history?

For every Sundance hit, there are epic Sundance failures. The bargain bins are littered with independent films that were bought for quite a lot at Sundance but flopped with audiences and general critics. “Birth of a Nation” caught terrible controversy upon its release. Other films, such as “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl,” “Dope” and “Hamlet 2,” saw awards and high bids at the festival. Yet, wide release audiences ignored the films. There is the chance the film just fits a specific “Sundance” type, but doesn’t translate to a broader audience.

Already the film has received criticism for casting two straight actors in the lead gay roles. With conversations around diversity and opportunity in Hollywood ablaze, this could prove to be a black mark. This might not sink the film alone. However, if it makes it far enough in the Oscar race, this could be a popular takedown of the film. “La La Land” was a frontrunner that faced backlash, which in part caused it to tumble at the finish line for Best Picture.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

  • Motion Picture
  • Director–Luca Guadagnino
  • Lead Actor–Timothée Chalamet
  • Supporting Actor–Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg
  • Supporting Actress–Amira Casar
  • Adapted Screenplay– Luca Guadagnino, James Ivory, Walter Fasano
  • Cinematography–Sayombhu Mukdeeprom
  • Production Design–Samuel Deshors
  • Costume Design–Giulia Piersanti

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Check out the first official set of
Year-In-Advance Oscar Predictions
and see where “Call Me By Your Name” ranks!