Awards Profile: Genius

Nicole Kidman e Colin Firth

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: Michael Grandage
Writers: John Logan, A. Scott Berg (based on his novel)
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Jude Law, Guy Pearce, Dominic West, Laura Linney
Synopsis: “A chronicle of Max Perkin’s time as the book editor at Scribner, where he oversaw works by Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others,” IMDb.

Why It Might Succeed: While the film’s director is relatively unknown (this is his directorial debut), the film’s writers are well renowned in their field. “Genius” is based on Pullitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg‘s biography “Max Perkins: Editor of Genius,” which won the National Book Award in 1978. His lauded material has been written for the screen by three time Oscar-nominated screenwriter John Logan, whose incredible filmography includes: “Gladiator,” “The Aviator,” “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” “Rango,” “Hugo,” “Skyfall” and the upcoming James Bond sequel “Spectre,” (and he has also recently dabbled in television, writing the Showtime series “Penny Dreadful“).

Colin Firth is playing the starring role, Max Perkins, in what could be his third Leading Role nomination since winning in 2011 for “The King’s Speech,” which also took home Best Picture. Venerable talent like Pearce, Linney, Law and Kidman also round out an interesting ensemble. While it may seem like a biography about famous authors from the last century sounds insipid, consider Woody Allen‘s “Midnight in Paris,” featuring a myriad of iconic writers, dancers and painters from the 20s, which earned Woody his third Original Screenplay award and was also nominated for Best Picture.

Why It Might Fail: Kidman has proven her acting chops in the past (“The Hours,” “Rabbit Hole,” “Birth“), but let’s not pretend that “Grace of Monaco” didn’t happen (or will happen in some form on Lifetime). She hasn’t had a decent performance since starring in Chan-wook Park‘s 2013s “Stoker.” Also, this is Grandage’s first feature film; he was previously a theater actor turned theater director and has won several distinguished awards, including the Laurence Olivier theater award for Best Director for “Caligula” in 2004. Let’s see if his theater work will translate to screen.

Oscar Potential:
Best Picture
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Actor (Firth)
Best Cinematography (Ben Davis)