Awards Profile: Our Brand is Crisis

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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.”

Directed by: David Gordon Green
Written by: Peter Straughan (based on the documentary Our Brand is Crisis)
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Zoe Kazan, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Scoot McNairy, Ann Dowd, and more

Synopsis (via IMDb): A feature film based on the documentary “Our Brand Is Crisis”, which focuses on the use of American political campaign strategies in South America.

Why it could succeed:
Call it a hunch, but I think this political dramedy is the big under the radar Oscar player for this year. Director David Gordon Green has always been someone who I think could really make something up the Academy’s alley, while he’s got Sandra Bullock in the lead role here, and lest I remind you that she’s a two time nominee and previous winner. There’s also the fact that George Clooney and partner Grant Heslov are producing and had originally developed Our Brand is Crisis as a project for themselves (Good Night and Good Luck as well as The Ides of March suggest that they have a handle on what voters like), plus nominated scribe Peter Straughan having penned the script, as well as the supporting cast, which includes Zoe Kazan (due to really be in play for a nomination), Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie (criminally overdue for a citation), Scoot McNairy, Ann Dowd, not to mention a handful of others, and you’ve got something brewing here. If Gordon Green successfully mixes humor with political drama and a message of some sort (maybe we wind up with Moneyball crossed with the recent foreign film No?), the sky could be the limit. Warner Brothers potentially has this headed towards a 2016 release, but it’s finishing up shooting now, so if they like what they see, a 2015 festival bow is almost certainly in the cards. From there, it could be off to the races.

Why it might not:
The very nature of the genre Gordon Green and company are tackling here makes it as likely to be a misfire as it is to be the next Argo. Also, it’s a step up in scope for Gordon Green, so while we know he has a knack for small character studies, how is he on a big studio film? Yes, it’s one with likely awards ambitions, but he’s never been in that league before, so as much as I love his work, it’s a question that should be asked. His best work to date has been on limited scopes, with his studio outings (with the exception of Pineapple Express) underwhelming. Also, this will be a test of how big Bullock is with voters. If she doesn’t get in, she’s going to decrease the odds of one of the big categories coming through. That’s getting ahead of ourselves, but while I’m high on the chances of this one, I also realize that it could just as easily crash and burn. The odds might even be 50/50 for Our Brand is Crisis succeeding with the Academy.

Awards Speculation:
If all goes well, Our Brand is Crisis has the potential to really be a big time Academy Award contender. Obviously, Best Picture is a big possibility (I have it in my number two position according to my last set of Oscar predictions that I crafted), while Gordon Green could easily show up in Best Director as well. If either of those happen, it’ll likely coincide with Bullock receiving another Best Actress citation, and potentially another acting nod for the ensemble. If it’s Best Supporting Actor, the trio of Mackie, McNairy, or Thornton all could be in play, while if it’s Best Supporting Actress where the nom would come from, my bet would be on Kazan. The interesting question for me is where the script goes. Straughan technically is adapting a documentary, but everything so far pitches it as closer to an original idea. It may wind up a WGA thing, but for now I’m listing it in Best Original Screenplay, where it could have a better shot than in Best Adapted Screenplay. The technical fields will all depend on what the scope of the flick is, but Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score could all be mentioned. We shall see what happens with Our Brand is Crisis, hopefully during the 2015 calendar year…

Our Brand is Crisis will be distributed by Warner Brothers and currently has no scheduled release.

Potential Nominations:

Best Picture
Best Director (Gordon Green)
Best Actress (Bullock)
Best Supporting Actor (Mackie, McNairy, or Thornton)
Best Supporting Actress (Kazan)
Best Orginal Screenplay (Straughan)
Best Production Design
Best Cinematography
Best Costume Design
Best Film Editing
Best Original Score

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!