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.
PRODUCERS: Ian Canning, Steve McQueen, Emile Sherman
DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
DIRECTOR: Steve McQueen
WRITER: Gillian Flynn, Steve McQueen
CAST: Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo, Daniel Kaluuya, Colin Farrell, Andre Holland, Liam Neeson, Robert Duvall, Carrie Coon, Garret Dillahunt, Jacki Weaver, Brian Tyree Henry, Lukas Haas, Michael Harney, Jon Bernthal, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo
SYNOPSIS (via IMDB): Set in contemporary Chicago, amidst a time of turmoil, four women with nothing in common accept a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.
WHY IT MIGHT SUCCEED:
Steve McQueen made his big break with Oscars in 2014 with “12 Years a Slave,” which won three Oscars including Best Picture. McQueen was also nominated for Best Director, but lost to Alfonso Cuaron for “Gravity,” unfortunately. To date, there still has not been a black Best Director winner. Having already directed a Best Picture winner, McQueen commands a good bit of Oscar cache. This makes him a strong candidate for this historic moment.
Viola Davis headlines a spectacular cast. As the lead widow forced to finish her late husband’s job, Davis gets plenty of room to stretch her acting chops. Davis recently won her first Oscar in the Supporting category for “Fences.” With three nominations total, a nomination in lead actress would make her the first black actress to four nominations. She would also be the first black actress to receive two leading actress nominations. The rest of the four widows would all be first time acting nominees – Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Erivo. However, if one (or two) of them stand out in the ensemble, they could be looking at Supporting Actress nomination.
It’s not all about the women here. There are many great male actors involved in the project fighting for a Supporting Actor nomination. Recent nominee Daniel Kaluuya stars as Jatemme. The young actor is on a roll after starring in “Get Out” last year and “Black Panther” this year. This could get him his second consecutive nomination. Colin Farrell has danced around an Oscar nomination for over a decade now. With acclaimed work in films like “In Bruges,” his role as Jack Mulligan, a politician entangled in the widow’s plot, could net him a long overdue nomination. There’s also Robert Duvall as Jack’s Father, who continues to show up at the Oscars, as recently as “The Judge” in 2014. Finally, Liam Neeson plays Viola Davis’ late husband. If the role is juicy enough, this could be the one that breaks through.
Steve McQueen assembles a crack team of craft people to take this film to the next level. Cinematographer Sean Bobbit works with McQueen on all of his projects. Bobbit holds a major Oscar IOU after a snub for “12 Years a Slave.” Perhaps this year could mark his first nomination. Film Editor Joe Walker holds two Oscar nominations – from “Arrival” and “12 Years a Slave.” His work on “Widows” could get his third nomination and second for a Steve McQueen project. Another “12 Years a Slave” alum has had great success since his first nomination for that film. Production Designer Adam Stockhausen won the year after “12 Years a Slave” for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and then was nominated the following year for “Bridge of Spies.”
WHY IT MIGHT NOT SUCCEED:
The source material for “Widows” is a 1983 – 1985 British TV series of the same name. TV to film adaptations doesn’t often translate into Oscar juggernauts. The most successful to come to mind would be “In the Loop,” also based on a BBC TV series, and “Borat,” based on “Da Ali G” Sacha Baron Cohen’s sketch show. Both of those films only received Best Adapted Screenplay nominations. Even if “Widows” turns out outstanding, it may be hard to overcome the TV adaptation bias. This bodes well for the screenplay, written by Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl” snubee) and McQueen. However, this could be bad for the rest of the potential categories.
POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES IN PLAY
- Best Picture – Ian Canning, Steve McQueen, Emile Sherman
- Best Director – Steve McQueen
- Best Actress – Viola Davis
- Best Supporting Actor – Daniel Kaluuya, Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson, Robert Duvall
- Best Supporting Actress – Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo
- Best Adapted Screenplay – Gillian Flynn, Steve McQueen
- Best Cinematography – Sean Bobbit
- Best Film Editing – Joe Walker
- Best Production Design – Adam Stockhausen