Awards Profile: Demolition

jeanmarcvalleeWelcome 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.”

Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallée

Written By: Bryan Sipe

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper, and more

Synopsis (via IMDb): An investment banker struggling to understand his emotional disconnect after the tragic death of his wife begins to tear apart his life in a effort to see where he went wrong, is ultimately rescued by a woman he meets in a chance encounter.

-A second plot summary via Coming Soon: Based on the 2007 Black List script by Bryan Sipe, “Demolition” is the story of Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal), a successful investment banker, who rallies to rebuild his life after a family crisis – with the help of a struggling young mother and her unusual son.

Jake-Gyllenhaal-GQ-Australia-November-2013-02Why it could succeed:
Over the past few years, Jake Gyllenhaal has started an exciting new act in his career. At the same, filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallee has become a bit of an Oscar whisperer, so there’s a strong pedigree to start with here. Especially when it comes to his actors and actresses, Vallee seems good for one or two nominations from his cast now, so not only is Gyllenhaal a huge player, you have to assume that co-stars Chris Cooper and Naomi Watts are in play too, with Watts in particular a strong case. Gyllenhaal clearly is the big selling point though, as his last few performances have repeatedly blown us all away. Now playing a slightly more tender character, one suffering through personal tragedy, well…that could be Academy catnip, quite frankly. With two other projects in play this year as well, 2015 is quite possibly going to be the year of Gyllenhaal, so he’s my early pick right now to take home Best Actor. I have him winning for this role too, so that could easily raise this flick up into the Best Picture lineup. This is a dramatic character study, an we all know that Oscar loves them some dramatic character studies. There’s no real ceiling in terms of how far it can go too, particularly if the quality is there. If we assume this is more Dallas Buyers Club than Wild, Vallee should be giving us a critical favorite and a player to really keep an eye on. Gun to my head…I think he has it here folks, particularly now that he’s working with Gyllenhaal, who’s in some ways perfectly due for a win. Demolition could do it for him.

Why it might not:
Honestly, despite a Black List script, Bryan Sipe is an X factor and Wild didn’t dazzle Oscar voters in the same way that Dallas Buyers Club did. That leads to a bit of a fork in the road, though a hard one to predict. On the one hand, Vallee did better work with lesser known scribes, though having author turned screenwriter Nick Hornby on board last time out as a help in getting early awards buzz. Here, he his Sipe, who really just has the Black List badge of honor to go off of. It’s no reason to count Demolition out, but it might give some a bit of pause. Another interesting thing to consider is Gyllenhaal competing with himself. I’m sure he’ll be very good here at the least, but he’s also got the adventure tale Everest and the boxing drama Southpaw hitting in 2015. The former might not be huge competition and instead just a box office boon to his chances in general, but the latter could lead to vote splitting. If not a vote split, it’s possible that Southpaw becomes his true vehicle instead of Demolition. I’m currently not assuming that will happen, but it’s certainly a distinct possibility. I don’t think this movie goes anywhere without him firmly being in play for a Best Actor nod. You take away that nom and the film probably gets shut out. That’s my hunch, at least.

Awards Speculation:
If Gyllenhaal and Vallee are at the top of their game in Demolition, the sky is really the limit for this one. Obviously, we start with Best Picture, which is very much tied into Gyllenhaal’s candidacy. The same goes for Vallee in Best Director. If Gyllenhaal is firmly entrenched in the Best Actor race, Picture and Director will be mentioned much of the year as well, in terms of potential nominations. There’s also obviously Watts, who could either go Lead in Best Actress or pushed to Best Supporting Actress, depending on where the studio thinks is best for her candidacy. She might even be a dark horse to win if she goes Supporting and has a knock out performance to share with us. Obviously Best Original Screenplay could certainly be in play too for Sipe, with Cooper an outside player for Best Supporting Actor as well. On the technical category front, we have likely just Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing to consider, but hypothetically anything is possible. Right now in my personal predictions, I have Demolition scoring nominations in Best Picture, Best Actor (Gyllenhaal), Best Supporting Actress (Watts), and Best Original Screenplay (Sipe), with Gyllenhaal taking home his first statue in Actor. Stay tuned to see what ultimately happens with Demolition when it hits theaters somewhere at the end of 2015!

Demolition will be distributed by Fox Searchlight and currently has no scheduled release date, but expect the late fall or early winter…

Potential Nominations:

Best Picture
Best Director (Vallee)
Best Actor (Gyllenhaal)
Best Actress (Watts *if she doesn’t go Supporting*)
Best Supporting Actor (Cooper)
Best Supporting Actress (Watts *if she doesn’t go Lead*)
Best Original Screenplay (Sipe)
Best Cinematography
Best Film Editing

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!