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: “The Glass Castle”
PRODUCERS: Mike Drake, Erik Feig, Tami Goldman, Ken Kao, Gil Netter, Michael Paseornek
DISTRIBUTOR: Lionsgate Pictures
DIRECTOR: Destin Daniel Cretton
WRITER: Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham
CAST: Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, Sarah Snook, Woody Harrelson, Max Greenfield, Ian Armitage
SYNOPSIS (via iMDB): A young girl comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who’s an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children’s imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty.
WHY IT MIGHT SUCCEED: Brie Larson strikes magic when she works alongside Destin Daniel Cretton. While “Short Term 12” didn’t light up the box office, it gave the actress her first run at Oscar traction. This set her up perfectly for a win shortly thereafter for “Room.” While Larson has opened blockbusters since her win, see “Kong: Skull Island,” this is her strong return to Oscar fare. While it is difficult to win a second Oscar so close to one’s first Oscar, there are many more examples of performers earning afterglow nominations following their win. One of the most recent examples is Eddie Redmayne, who won for “Theory of Everything” and then received a nomination for “The Danish Girl,” which was much less well received.
The rest of the cast is nothing to scoff at either. Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson each have two previous Oscar nominations. With long careers, some can argue both are overdue for the win. With showy roles as the dysfunctional heads of a family, they should have plenty of meat to craft a great performance out of. However, as the alcoholic patriarch, Harrelson has the best shot of any of the actors to end up at the Oscars. As stated previously, this is the year of Harrelson, with many strong roles ahead. The villainous parent role has won many women supporting actress Oscars (see Mo’Nique for “Precious”). This could be the year it earns Harrelson a Supporting Actor win.
The combination of strong writing and an eclectic cast has led many a family drama into the Best Picture race in the past. This helped “Manchester by the Sea” and “Silver Linings Playbook” net multiple Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. The fact the film is based off a 2005 memoir also gives the picture gravitas. The subject matter can propel this from a lone acting nomination to five or so nominations across the board.
WHY IT MIGHT NOT SUCCEED: Director Destin Daniel Cretton has proven himself to be a strong director with “Short Term 12.” However, the strong micro budget indie work doesn’t immediately translate to Oscar prospects. Many times it takes a few more successful features under one’s belt in order to net an Oscar nomination. However, that hasn’t stopped other young directors. Behn Zeitlin famously surprised as a Best Director nomination for “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” However, even Damien Chazelle missed a director nomination for “Whiplash,” which was loved by Oscar. Even if “The Glass Castle” hits in Picture, Cretton might not come along for the ride in Director.
It was recently announced that “The Glass Castle” would be released on August 11. This summer release date is an interesting strategy that doesn’t always pay off for films. With a summer release date, films have to sustain momentum for nearly six months. This means the film must be truly remarkable or hit the zeitgeist in quite a way to remain relevant by Oscar time. Past films, such as “The Help” or “Mad Max: Fury Road,” were massive blockbusters with enough conversation to sustain themselves. Other, such as “Hell or High Water,” “Grand Budapest Hotel” or “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” were indie hits that rode the top of critics top 10 lists to stay relevant. “The Glass Castle” will have to stay at the top of mind for quite some time to make a splash at the Oscars.
POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES IN PLAY:
Director–Destin Daniel Cretton
Lead Actress–Brie Larson
Supporting Actor–Woody Harrelson
Supporting Actress–Naomi Watts
Adapted Screenplay– Destin Daniel Cretton