Welcome to the 2019 Awards Profile series, where we talk about films coming to a theater near you in the coming year (at least at this time of writing). The series analyzes the films and their awards season potential, most notably for the Academy Awards, based on the talents attached, filmmakers involved, and story and source material.  Monday through Friday until mid-May, AwardsCircuit will bring you a new and exciting project and discuss its chances for success. If you have a suggestion for a movie we should cover, include it in the comments section below. If you miss a film covered, click on the tag or category for “Awards Profile.”

FILM: “Always Be My Maybe”

DISTRIBUTOR: Netflix
DIRECTOR: Nahnatchka Khan
PRODUCERS: Brendan Ferguson, Brady Fujikawa, Michael Golamco, Nathan Kahane, Randall Park, Erin Westerman, Ali Wong
WRITER(S): Michael Golamco, Randall Park, Ali Wong
CAST: Ali Wong, Randall Park, Keanu Reeves, Daniel Dae Kim, Charlyne Yi, Karan Soni, Susan Park, Michelle Butaeu
SYNOPSIS: A pair of childhood friends end up falling for each other when they grow up.

SCHEDULED RELEASE: May 31, 2019

POTENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS:

“Always Be My Maybe” sounds like a dream Asian-American romcom. Starring Ali Wong and Randall Park, Sasha (Wong) and Marcus (Park), are a pair of childhood friends who reconnect as adults, and hopefully, fall in love. Well, maybe. The costars and first-time film director Nahnatchka Khan previously worked together on the ABC series “Fresh Off the Boat,” where Wong and Park bonded over a mutual love of the romantic comedy genre. The pair pointed to classics “When Harry Met Sally” and “Boomerang” as their inspirations, with Park telling EW they also wanted to show “[two] Asian Americans living their lives without much emphasis on the Asian-American.” The love story will explore the idea of the one who got away and comes back. See the official trailer below.

While romantic comedies are often formulaic, “Always Be My Maybe” has quite a bit of star power and experience on its side. Wong and Park wrote the script with Michael Golamco and all three are producing. They, along with Khan, are hailing from significant time on long-running TV shows like “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Grimm,” so they each have enough comedy chops to make a film from a cookie-cutter genre fresh. And that’s without mentioning the cast they’ve pulled together for “Always Be My Maybe,” with Keanu Reeves and Daniel Dae Kim in the supporting cast. Pulling in this kind of star power is no easy feat, even if the project is working with Netflix. But the film already has enough juice to get some hefty viewing numbers for its premiere May 31st.

But what is truly exciting about “Always Be My Maybe” is the talented, mostly Asian American cast and crew involved in the project. So many romantic comedies focus on white couples in vastly white worlds, where the only time we may see an Asian American character is in stereotypical, supporting roles. It’s difficult to enjoy the genre when small efforts towards diversity only end up as the ever-affirming, ambiguously Asian best friend in someone else’s love story. But in “Always Be My Maybe,” audiences get to see a film from great comedians, a killer cast and a relatable love story, all within a world that accurately represents the people it is depicting. If this is Hollywood, post “Crazy Rich Asians,” this Filipina writer is overjoyed.

POTENTIAL CHALLENGES:

It’s odd to say Keanu Reeves could be a potential problem for “Always Be My Maybe,” because it’s Reeves, one of the biggest action stars working right now. But will viewers be too distracted by Reeves’ appearance and be taken out of the love story? Worse yet, will critics be caught up by his appearance and neglect to give proper feedback on the work of Wong, Park, and Khan? As Reeves can play the unassuming everyman, there’s hope his performance will be a fun cherry on top of the “Always Be My Maybe” sundae, but not all the fixings.

Another potential obstacle– and asset– is Netflix, “Always Be My Maybe’s” distributor. The recent riff between Steven Spielberg, the Academy, and Netflix shows a growing bias towards films that have very briefs runs in cinemas and make most of their money on streaming platforms. Sure, the DOJ threw its weight around and probably protected Netflix from a ban, but Spielberg’s push to make Netflix ineligible signals a bias against streaming platforms and their content amongst top Hollywood players. That bias could mean films from streaming platforms, like “Always Be My Maybe,” may not earn nominations or critical praise even if it deserves to be fêted. I know that kind of reception is a long shot for a comedy, but a girl can hope, right?

POTENTIAL AWARD CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

  • Motion Picture (Brendan Ferguson, Brady Fujikawa, Michael Golamco, Nathan Kahane, Randall Park, Erin Westerman, Ali Wong)
  • Director (Nahnatchka Khan)
  • Actor in a Leading Role (Randall Park)
  • Actress in a Leading Role (Ali Wong)
  • Actor in a Supporting Role (Keanu Reeves, Daniel Dae Kim, Karan Soni)
  • Actress in a Supporting Role (Charlyne Yi, Susan Park, Michelle Buteau)
  • Original Screenplay (Michael Golamco, Randall Park, Ali Wong)
  • Production Design (Richard Toyon)
  • Cinematography (Tim Suhrstedt)
  • Costume Design (Leesa Evans)
  • Film Editing (Lee Haxall)
  • Makeup and Hairstyling (To be announced)
  • Sound Mixing (To be announced)
  • Sound Editing (To be announced)
  • Visual Effects (To be announced)
  • Original Score (To be announced)

POTENTIAL KEY NOTICES FROM OTHER GROUPS

  • Best Screenplay, Motion Picture (Golden Globes): With Wong, Park and Golmaco working on “Always Be My Maybe’s” script, there could be enough comedy gold to warrant a Golden Globe nomination for best original screenplay.

Are you excited or skeptical about Nahnatchka Khan’s “Always Be My Maybe?” Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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