Directed by: Anton Corbijn
Written by: Screenplay by Andrew Bovell based on the novel by John le Carré
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, and Daniel Brühl
Synopsis:When a half-Chechen, half-Russian, tortured half-to-death immigrant turns up in Hamburg’s Islamic community, laying claim to his father’s ill gotten fortune, both German and US security agencies take a close interest: as the clock ticks down and the stakes rise, the race is on to establish this most wanted man’s true identity – oppressed victim or destruction-bent extremist?
Why it could succeed: Anton Corbijn’s The American, a quiet thriller about a lonely spy (George Clooney), was one of my favorite movies of 2010, and showed the potential that its director had as a filmmaker. The fact that the screenplay for A Most Wanted Man is based on a novel by John le Carré adds a certain amount of pedigree to the film that the cast – which stars one of our very best actors in Philip Seymour Hoffman – only solidifies.
Why it might not: The fact that The American slid so far under the radar despite starring one of our biggest movie stars is the biggest thing I can see on paper that makes me hesitate to include it in my initial Best Picture predictions. If this film has the same pace and tone (which I’m hoping it does, awards be damned), then I could see them resisting once more.
Awards Speculation: This is one of those films that I think could draw major attraction in the above the line categories, including Picture, Director, Lead Actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Supporting Actress (Robin Wright – did you see the Netflix original series House of Cards??), and, most likely, Adapted Screenplay. Just two years ago Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, another John le Carré adaptation, found traction with the Academy, earning nods for Lead Actor (Gary Oldman), Score, and Adapted Screenplay. In 2005, the Academy swooned a little deeper for another le Carré adaptation, The Constant Gardener, giving it four nominations – Supporting Actress – Rachel Weisz, Adapted Screenplay, Score, and Film Editing – and one win (Weisz). I think the awards success of A Most Wanted Man will hinge more on the pace of the film (as I hinted at above), as both The American and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy were both slow-building potboilers that might have bored some Academy members. If the pace is a bit quicker (think: Argo), then I could see A Most Wanted Man being a strong contender for three or four nominations next winter, though my initial instinct is that it will end up on the bubble in most of these fields (in order of likelihood):
Lead Actor (Hoffman)
Supporting Actress (Wright)