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: “YESTERDAY”

DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures
DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle
PRODUCERS: Nick Angel, Bernard Bellew, Tim Bevan, Danny Boyle, Lee Brazier, Richard Curtis, Eric Fellner, Matthew James Wilkinson
WRITER(S): Richard Curtis, story by Jack Barth and Richard Curtis
CAST: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Ana de Armas, Kate McKinnon, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal, James Corden, Ed Sheeran
SYNOPSIS: A struggling musician realizes he’s the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles. (IMDB)

SCHEDULED RELEASE: June 28, 2019

POTENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS:

Once you win Best Director at the Oscars, your subsequent films will always be in the conversation. Danny Boyle won Best Director in 2008 for “Slumdog Millionaire,” which took home 8 Oscars including Best Picture. Since then, he’s made some films that Oscar has loved (“127 Hours”), liked (“Steve Jobs”) and ignored (“Frankenstein,” “Trance,” “T2 Trainspotting”). “Yesterday” looks to be one of his more populist films. When Boyle leans into sentimentality, it usually pays off more than when he overdoses on style.

Boyle isn’t the only Oscar player behind the project. Writer Richard Curtis has had a long Hollywood career, including an Oscar nomination in 1994 for “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” which also was a surprise Best Picture nominee. Since then, Curtis has yet to make an Oscar comeback. Could this be the year?

Perhaps the biggest talent behind “Yesterday” is the band that inspired the premise. The Beatles are arguably the most renowned band in history, with their extensive catalog previously inspiring another musical (“Across the Universe”). That film only received one Oscar nomination (Best Costume Design). Fondness for their catalog could make the film the sleeper hit of the summer. The Oscars have also been notoriously fond of musicals or films about the music industry. This past year saw both “A Star is Born” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” win Oscars and receive Best Picture nominations. Will “Yesterday” end up more like those films or “Across the Universe?” Only time will tell.

POTENTIAL CHALLENGES:

The Oscar buzz for “Yesterday” was highest around the release of the energetic trailer. Now reviews have come out for the film and tampered excitement down quite a bit. “Yesterday” currently holds a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes. While this is still a fresh score, it’s far from unanimous praise. Usually, movies that open in the summer need 90%+ Certified Fresh scores in order to stick around through the winter awards season. Still, both “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Vice” were able to receive Best Picture nominations with Rotten Tomatoes scores in the 60s. These reviews aren’t the kiss of death, but they do make some doubtful if has the stamina to last through a long awards season.

Another question mark for the film will be its cast. The lead role in the film went to Himesh Patel, a virtual unknown. Many actors have received nominations for their first major movie role, including Lupita Nyong’o, Barkhad Abdi, Hailee Steinfeld, to name a few. However, a potential nominee needs to have that X-factor that catches fire at the right time. Hopefully, Patel has a similar “star is born” moment with the release of “Yesterday.” In terms of the rest of the cast, Lily James has given some great performances in large movies in the past with “Cinderella,” and more recently “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”. To date, she has not received any awards traction. Could that change this year? The supporting cast features Ana de Armas (“Blade Runner 2049”) and Kate McKinnon (“Ghostbusters”). Both actresses have their following, but will this be their Oscar breakthrough film?

POTENTIAL AWARD CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

  • Motion Picture (Nick Angel, Bernard Bellew, Tim Bevan, Danny Boyle, Lee Brazier, Richard Curtis, Eric Fellner, Matthew James Wilkinson)
  • Director (Danny Boyle)
  • Actor in a Leading Role (Himesh Patel)
  • Actress in a Leading Role (Lily James)
  • Actress in a Supporting Role (Ana de Armas)
  • Original Screenplay (Richard Curtis, story by Jack Barth and Richard Curtis)
  • Cinematography (Christopher Ross)
  • Film Editing (Jon Harris)
  • Sound Mixing (To be announced)
  • Sound Editing (To be announced)
  • Original Score (Daniel Pemberton)

POTENTIAL KEY NOTICES FROM OTHER GROUPS

  • Best Picture, Musical/Comedy (Golden Globes): The Golden Globes have been a punchline in the past for their choices in the Musical/Comedy category (see Best Picture nominees “The Tourist” and “Burlesque”). Their choices have gotten markedly better in years since. “Yesterday” is the type of crowd-pleasing modern musical that stands to do very well at the Golden Globes. If it isn’t able to make it into this category, it’s unlikely any other awards group will reward it.
  • Best Original Screenplay (WGA Awards): Richard Curtis stands the best chance to receive a nomination at any awards ceremony. In terms of guild support, Curtis has previously been nominated for the WGA Award twice (“Bridget Jones Diary” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral”). Both of those movies went on to Oscar nominations, though “Bridget Jones Diary” didn’t get into Screenplay. If he misses here, “Yesterday’s” Oscar chances may fall by the wayside, much like Curtis’ “Love Actually,” which missed here.
  • Best Performance by a Cast Ensemble (SAG Awards): Even with a cast of unknowns, “Slumdog Millionaire” was able to win the top prize at the SAG Awards. This movie doesn’t seem to have the widest ensemble. Yet, if voters are really taken with the film, maybe it will surprise in this category.

Are you excited or skeptical about Danny Boyle’s “Yesterday?” Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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