Awards Profile: Steve Jobs

steve-jobs-michael-fassbenderWelcome 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: Danny Boyle

Writers: Aaron Sorkin, based on the novel by Walter Isaacson

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Katherine Waterston

Synopsis: The true story of Apple CEO and technological wunderkind Steve Jobs.

Why It Might Succeed: 

The pedigree alone – Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle, Academy Award winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, and should have been Academy Award nominated actor Michael Fassbender. Boyle and Sorkin have been working on bringing this project to life since Isaacson’s biography came out, and if Sorkin’s script is as clean, witty, and engaging as his work in 2010’s The Social Network, he’ll be a shoo-in for another Best Screenplay nod, if not the win.

There’s been a lot of pushback regarding Fassbender’s appearance – he doesn’t exactly look like Jobs – but he’s done solid work since the Academy missed nominating him for Shame, and playing such an iconic figure like Jobs could be enough for the Academy to rectify their past slight. The “big figure” Oscar is usually an easy one to achieve: just play a well-known figure (Redmayne as Stephen Hawking, Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln) and the Academy will take notice. Furthermore, Isaacson’s biography is known for not being a slavish ode to Jobs’ prowess, it takes time to explore the man’s flaws – including his fractious relationship with girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (set to be played by Waterston. If Fassbender can show the man, warts and all, he’ll be an easy sell.

The rest of the cast is also worthy of awards attention and there’s some great roles for women: The aforementioned Chrisann Brennan could be a boon for Waterston who was well-regarded in Inherent Vice last year. As the tenacious woman scorned, who actually had to fight to have Jobs acknowledge their child, Waterston could see recognition if the role is large enough. The same goes for Sarah Snook and Kate Winslet’s roles as Jobs’ associate, Andrea Cunnigham and Joanna Hoffman, respectively.

Then you have Seth Rogen, as Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak. Many, including a few Awards Circuit writers, have compared the role, and Rogen’s funnyman turned thespian shift, to Jonah Hill’s turn in Sorkin’s Moneyball. Considering Hill was nominated for that role, coupled with Sorkin’s work on that script, past precedent could see Rogen get a nod.

Why It Might Fail:

A little movie from 2013 called Jobs. It was a critical failure, but it sparked the burst of Jobs related projects created in the wake of the innovator’s death. Audiences who saw that movie, which touched on several things that will probably be explored better in this film, might not want to jump into another, although better written, Jobs film. Furthermore, documentarian Alex Gibney has a documentary about Jobs, Steve Jobs: Man in the Machine, set to debut sometime this year. It wouldn’t be surprising if Jobs exhaustion turned audiences against this, quality or not.

Furthermore, the fall-out from the Sony scandal clings to this project after emails revealed that producers refused to capitulate to original director David Fincher’s demands of creative control and the hiring of Christian Bale as Jobs. There were also references made to how Fassbender wasn’t a bankable star. Although said emails were written awhile back, and Sony ultimately put the project into turnaround before Universal scooped it up, their public exposure now reminds the audiences of what could have been.

Cast changes were also rather frequent, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jessica Chastain, and Natalie Portman all set up, at one time or another, before leaving the project. While this doesn’t automatically doom a project to failure, it can illustrate a lack of confidence somewhere.

The movie has been filming for a few months in San Francisco, and while Boyle’s work is usually quick, is there going to be enough time to complete filming and edit it properly?

Awards Speculation:

It’s hard to ignore the powerhouse team-up of Boyle and Sorkin. Their past awards success inspires, no matter the backstage shenanigans behind the project. If this is as good as Slumdog Millionaire (Boyle’s win) and The Social Network’s (Sorkin’s win), we might be seeing a frontrunner.

Oscar Potential:

Best Picture
Best Director
Best Actor (Fassbender)
Best Actress (With no knowledge I’d say Winslet)
Best Supporting Actor (Rogen)
Best Supporting Actress (Either Waterston or Snook)
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Production Design (Guy Hendrix Dyas)