Awards Profile: Irrational Man

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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: Woody Allen
Writer: Wood Allen
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey, Jamie Blackley
Synopsis: “On a small town college campus, a philosophy professor in existential crisis gives his life new purpose when he enters into a relationship with a student” – IMDb.

Why it Might Succeed:
Allen is no stranger to the Awards season buzz (although he is a stranger to the ceremonies); He’s a four time Oscar®-winning writer and director and shows no signs of slowing down, releasing a film every year. Despite all the media backlash he’s received over the years, he has remained a reticent, but undeniable force during awards ceremonies. He first won in 1978 for his now classic film “Annie Hall,” for which he took home Best Director and Best Original Screenplay awards. He was able to replicate his success nearly a decade later in 1987 when he took home Best Original Screenplay, again, for “Hannah and Her Sisters.” And, most recently, Allen made lightning strike for a third time when he took home Best Original Screenplay in 2012 for penning the highly praised “Midnight in Paris.” Four Oscars®, with three being in the same category, is quite a feat…for most filmmakers. But considering Allen pens a film as often as a Duggar child is conceived, it’s not surprising some of his nearly 50 directorial features has struck gold, (the man is like the Viagra® of scribing.) So it’s very likely his new film will get acknowledged for, at the very least, it’s writing.

Allen has also created platforms for his actors to go on winning Oscars® themselves, making this film an excellent vehicle for Stone to be nominated once again, after her nomination last year for Best Supporting Actress in “Birdman.” Allen has directed 18 Oscar®-nominated performances throughout his career, with seven taking home the award. Six of Allen’s actresses have taken home awards in both the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories: Diane Keaton for “Annie Hall” (leading); Dianne Wiest, who won two, the first for “Hannah and Her Sisters” and the second for “Bullets Over Broadway;” Mira Sorvino for “Mighty Aphrodite,” Penelope Cruz for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona;” and, most recently, Cate Blanchett for “Blue Jasmine” (leading). Allen’s male actors have not fared as well. Michael Caine took home Best Supporting Actor in 1987 for his role in “Hannah and Her Sisters,” making him the only male actor in one of Allen’s films to win an Oscar®. So, even though Stone, statistically, has a better chance of winning, there’s a very good chance Phoenix may score a nomination, also. He’s been nominated three times in the last 14 years for performances in “Gladiator,” “Walk the Line” and “The Master.” And although Caine was the only male to get a win, Allen has directed four other male performances to earn nominations: Martin Landau in “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” himself in “Annie Hall,” Chazz Palminteri in “Bullets Over Broadway” and Sean Penn in “Sweet and Lowdown.” Phoenix could be Allen’s first actor to win in the Best Actor in a Leading Role category, which, personally, I think he’s overdue for, but, at the very least, we can expect a nomination, after Academy voters snubbed the actor for an indelible performance in Spike Jonze‘s “Her,” two years ago.

Why it Might Fail:
As mentioned, Allen has made an inordinate number of films throughout his career. Not all of them can be “winners,” am I right? For every good film he directs, there’s a dud immediately following it. Case and point: last year he directed the disappointing “Magic in the Moonlight,” but the year before he made “Blue Jasmine,” which earned Blanchett her second acting Oscar® and earned co-star Sally Hawkins her first nomination. The year before that, he gave us “To Rome with Love,” one of his more forgettable films, but before that knocked it out of the park with “Midnight in Paris.” The point is, when he scores, he scores and when he misses, it’s quite a disappointment. The likeliness that “Irrational Man” will be either a success of failure is anyone’s guess, at this point. With Phoenix attached, my guess is for the former, but you never know.

Awards Speculation:
It’s unrealistic to expect Allen to nab Best Director or for “Irrational Man” to win Best Picture, although nominations aren’t entirely out of the question; “Midnight in Paris” did get nominated for both categories in 2012. My money is on the acting and writing categories for this one.

Possible Nominations:
Best Picture
Best Director
Best Original Screenplay
Best Actor in a Leading Role for Phoenix
Best Actress in a Leading or Supporting Role for Stone
Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Posey

“Irrational Man” is slated to be released this summer and is being distributed by Sony Pictures Classics.