Welcome to the 2018 Awards Profile series, where we talk about films coming to a theater near you at some point this year (at least at this time of writing). 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 through Friday to talk about their awards hopes and analyze the film’s chances for success. 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: “Life Itself”
PRODUCERS: Glen Basner, Ben Browning, Alison Cohen, Adrián Guerra
DISTRIBUTOR: Amazon Studios
DIRECTOR/WRITER: Dan Fogelman
CAST: Olivia Cooke, Oscar Isaac, Oliva Wilde, Samuel L. Jackson, Mandy Patinkin, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening
SYNOPSIS (via IMDB): The lives of people from New York to Spain intersect over the course of different generations.
WHY IT MIGHT SUCCEED:
Dan Fogelman is rolling right now, with “This is Us“ quickly becoming one of the biggest shows on television. Fogelman’s career is littered with hits, including Disney films “Tangled” and “Cars.” There’s a fair argument to be had that Fogelman could find himself as this generation’s James L. Brooks. After all, after Brooks helped co-create, “Room 222,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and “Taxi,” he made “Terms of Endearment.” The cast on hand, as well as the emotional heart beating in the trailer, should draw comparisons to that kind of film.
The real reason to be excited in the trailer is Oscar Isaac, who looks like he’s laying it all on the table. He’s real, emotional, and one of our most overdue actors. He’s really the one to watch, but Annette Benning is not far behind. We know that she can be devasting in the right roles, so hopefully, Fogelman uses her well. Another actor who looks like he could be in play is Antonio Banderas. If this film works, expect the actors to push hard in the nominations.
WHY IT MIGHT NOT SUCCEED:
Could this become “Valentine’s Day” or “New Year’s Eve?” Unless your name is Robert Altman, P.T. Anderson, or Steven Spielberg, large ensemble casts that fluctuate between locations rarely work. There’s a very real chance that this movie becomes a popular film and a fan favorite. But can the melodrama that Fogelman has developed on “This Is Us” work for an Oscar film? That remains to be seen.
What might be worse is that the teaser has some extremely cringe-worthy lines. The actors delivering the lines elevate the dialogue, but if that’s all that matters, “Collateral Beauty” would be a hit. There’s also the issue of Fogelman’s lack of directorial experience. This is only his 2nd film, with “Danny Collins” mostly succeeding in his first effort. Still, his relative inexperience should make us a little cautious. After all, Brooks is the exception, not the rule.
POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES IN PLAY:
- Motion Picture (Glen Basner, Ben Browning, Alison Cohen, Adrián Guerra)
- Director (Dan Fogelman)
- Actor in a Leading Role – Oscar Isaac*
- Actor in a Supporting Role – Oscar Isaac*, Antonio Banderas, Mandy Patinkin, Samuel L. Jackson
- Actress in a Supporting Role – Olivia Cooke, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening
- Original Screenplay (Dan Fogelman)
- Score (Federico Jusid)
- Film Editing (Julie Monroe)