Awards Profile: Bridge of Spies

steven-spielberg-tom-hanks-cold-war-thriller-slice

Welcome to the 2015 Awards Profiles series.  For the next two months, every day (except for Saturday), we will bring you a run down of a future 2015 film that we see as a potential awards vehicle for next year’s Academy Awards.  This is all speculative since with just about all these films, we haven’t seen a frame yet.  Nonetheless, we venture on.  If you miss a film, then click on the tag “2015 Awards Profile.”

Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda, Amy Ryan, Billy Magnussen, etc.
Synopsis: An American lawyer is recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to help rescue a pilot detained in the Soviet Union.

Why It Could Succeed: Fellow Ohioan Steven Spielberg.  At this stage in his career, he doesn’t often whiff wit prestige pictures like he sometimes does with popcorn cinema.  Three of his last five films have been nominated for Best Picture, with two of them earning him Best Director nominations.

Nearly everyone involved in Bridge of Spies (nee St. James Place) is an Oscar winner.  The Director Steve Spielberg (x3), the lead Actor Tom Hanks (x2), Film editor Michael Kahn (x3), Production Designer Adam Stockhausen (x1), Composer John Williams (x1000) (who has, um, another high-profile film coming out this awards season!), Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (x2), and screenwriters Coen Brothers (x4).  Of course being an Oscar winner doesn’t mean that the work will be amazing, but it does mean that a) these artists have the capability of greatness and b) they’re in the club.  That could either bode extremely well or provide the ingredients to a “Too Good To Be True” deflated soufflé.

Further, Bridge of Spies drops in the ever important Oscar corridor of October–the 16th to be exact.  Most recent Best Picture winners come out in the fall, but none have opened later than November since 2004.  This is good news for Spielberg fans.  Not to mention the story seems interesting.

Why It Might Not: The aforementioned “Too Good To Be True” soufflé.  We’ve seen year after year these By The Books contenders fall to the wayside once seen, such as War Horse and Unbroken.

The film is being distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motions Pictures.  Even as a staunch Disney fan personally, there’s little questions that their Oscar campaigning hasn’t turned out the way they’d like.  Saving Mr. Banks couldn’t be saved from Wiki-experts and Into the Woods couldn’t cast a spell on critics or audiences.  They failed to realize they could easily land Frozen a Best Picture nomination and could manage only a Best Visual Effects nominations for the highest grossing films of 2012.  Alas, there’s always the hope that a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Finally, it’s a re-write.  While the Coens are no question top tier screenwriters, their script doctoring of Unbroken wasn’t exactly sublime and the ghost of the rewrite nightmare that was Up in the Air‘s whisper campaign shouldn’t be easily forgotten.  The Coens and original writer Matt Charman will have to play nice in the run-up to the film’s release.

Awards Speculation:When it comes to Spielberg, every category is on the table.  His last film, Lincoln, earned a spectacular 12 nominations in 2012.  However, despite a shocking shake-up in Best Director that year, Lincoln couldn’t manage much post-nomination love from the Academy.  Nevertheless, everything is in play–from the actors, to the techs, to threatening for gold in above-the-line races.  Bridge of Spies could certainly draw the admiration of critics, awards groups, and audiences alike.

Potential Nominations:
Best Picture
Best Director – Steven Spielberg
Best Actor – Tom Hanks
Best Supporting Actor – Alan Alda
Best Supporting Actor – Mark Rylance
Best Supporting Actress – Amy Ryan
Best Original Screenplay – Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, & Joel Coen
Best Score – John Williams
Best Cinematography – Janusz Kaminski
Best Production Design – Adam Stockhausen
Best Film Editing – Michael Kahn
Best Costume Design – Kasia Walicka-Maimone
Best Sound Editing
Best Sound Mixing