Awards Profile: The End of the Tour

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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: James Ponsoldt

Writer: Donald Margulies, based on the novel “Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace” written by David Lipsky

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Segel, Anna Chlumsky, Joan Cusack, Ron Livingston

Synopsis: A magazine reporter recounts his travels and conversations with author David Foster Wallace during a promotional book tour.

Why It Might Succeed: Coming out of Sundance as one of the best reviewed films, Whiplash and Beasts of the Southern Wild prove that darlings can have strong legs. James Ponsoldt is really building momentum in his career with modest success with Smashed and The Spectacular Now, and in an odd way the rule of three is really benefiting directors right now (Tom Hooper, Ben Affleck, Steve McQueen, Bennett Miller, and so on).

Of the most prestigious names in its cast and crew, Jesse Eisenberg plays the lead, who still holds onto the embers of his Oscar buzz since The Social Network, and the score is composed by beloved vet Danny Elfman. The Academy quite likes films about journalists on adventures too, with Philomena and the framing device of Life Of Pi as recent examples. Plus there’s Almost Famous which won Screenplay and shares a Rolling Stone Magazine writer protagonist.

Above all, the theme of dealing with the money, fame and praise for a masterwork is one that may hit home the most.

Why It Might Fail: But how many have read “Infinite Jest“? Not that it apparently matters, as the filmmakers say you don’t need to be familiar with James Foster Wallace to get the film. Voters still may judge the book on its cover, or find it too specific or small a topic to give a major reward. Nevertheless, it was A24 who picked the film up, and we all know how that went for A Most Violent Year. Not only that, but they’re pinning it for a late July release.

Summer release Boyhood may have heated the plate up, but it cooled down quickly by the ceremony. The End of the Tour will have to way overperform everywhere to pleasantly surprise us. Will the Academy warm up to Jason Segel too? Can he shed the shackles of comedy and be the Emma Stone or Steve Carell of the year?

Awards Speculation: The word is on Segel, and J.K. Simmons shows that a pathway is possible – that is, if the How I Met Your Mother actor brings an obvious tour de force. Nevertheless, he could pick up critics buzz, an Indie Spirit nom and maybe a Globe nom if it’s pushed into Comedy for enough witty lines. This isn’t going to be a heavy film.

Other awards worthy aspects include Donald Margulies’ script and Elfman’s score. Any campaigns will most likely focus on those power three, maybe pushing Segel into Supporting if they feel they can get away with it. This could be the indie that could this year.

Oscar Potential:

Best Picture

Best Actor (Jason Segel)

Best Adapted Screenplay (Donald Margulies)

Best Original Score (Danny Elfman)

Plus longshots if someone loves it enough:

Best Director (James Ponsoldt)

Best Actor (Jesse Eisenberg)

Best Film Editing