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Awards Profile: Everest

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: Baltasar Kormakur

Writers: Simon Beaufoy, Mark Medoff, Justin Isbell & William Nicholson, based on the novel “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley, Jason Clarke, Sam Worthington, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Emily Watson, Robin Wright

Synopsis: A climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snow storm.

Why It Might Succeed: If there’s one thing that draws me to Everest‘s potential, it’s the pedigree of the onscreen talent. It’s difficult to ignore the awards chances of a Jake Gyllenhaal film, with this year having plenty of others to choose from, and his momentum is definitely going somewhere. On top of Gyllenhaal you have recently nominated Keira Knightley, then Wright, Brolin, Hawke, Clarke, and so on. They can’t have all signed onto something bad, right?

The writers room is crowded with four writers passing drafts but you have 2 Best Picture writers with Simon Beaufoy who wrote Slumdog Millionaire and William Nicholson who wrote Gladiator. The dangerous setting of Everest offers an self-contained peril that’s ripe for intense drama. Some films thrive on limitations and this has all the right ingredients to present a thoughtful and thrilling microcosm with its network of characters, as well as stunning scenery.

At the very least, the techs in sound and visuals have to be at their best to do justice to the idea and that could lead to great rewards.

Why It Might Fail: We have an untested director at the helm. Baltasar Kormakur found acclaim at film festivals with 101 Reykjavik, but this was 15 years ago. Now he’s mostly known for action movies with Mark Wahlberg, Contraband and 2 Guns. I haven’t seen them, but hopefully he knows how to direct an exciting sequence and this time he has the material to back it up (probably).

On the other hand, four writers could lead to an unfocused or overlaboured script. It might be over or under-stuffed without enough interesting ideas and be purely aimed for the mainstream hungry for disaster porn. Hopefully this isn’t just trying to make a buck.

The September release doesn’t incite much confidence either. It will certainly have faded away by February regardless of how good it is.

Awards Speculation: The season will surely start to feel more crowded as it goes along and this might go hand in hand with The Walk as a stimulating film that struggles to find the balance between art and commerce – simply for lack of being a franchise in this day and age. Nevertheless, the Academy may be more willing to go for original material in the tech department and it could easily find a place in Sound Editing and Sound Mixing for example. Cinematography and to a lesser extent Visual Effects have a shot too.

I can imagine they’ll struggle to single out a performance but Everest could boost Jake Gyllenhaal’s case for another film. Lets also not forget the most prestigious man on the team besides Simon Beaufoy – this film has a score by Dario Marianelli.

Oscar Potential:

Best Picture

Best Film Editing

Best Cinematography

Best Original Score

Best Sound Editing

Best Sound Mixing

Best Visual Effects