2016 Awards Profile: ‘Sully’ from Clint Eastwood

sully-sullenberger-tom-hanks

Welcome to the 2016 Awards Profiles series, where we talk about high and low-profile films coming to a theater near you at some point this year. We will analyze the potential for these films to be players for the Academy Awards, and while many of these have the potential to be recognized, many will not either by quality or being pushed back to the following year. For the next eight weeks, we will bring you a film every weekday to talk about their potential. If you have a suggestion, please include it in the comments below. If you missed a film, click on the tag or category Awards Profile.

Director: Clint Eastwood

Writer: Todd Komarnicki
Based on the autobiography “Highest Duty” by Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger with Jeffrey Zaslow

Cast: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Holt McCallany, Jamey Sheridan, and Jerry Ferrara

Producers: Distributed by Warner Bros., produced by Frank Marshall, Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Gary Goetzman, and Allyn Stewart

Release Date: September 9, 2016

Synopsis: Per IMDb, On January 15, 2009, the world witnessed the “Miracle on the Hudson” when Captain “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) glided his disabled plane onto the frigid waters of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard. However, even as Sully was being heralded by the public and the media for his unprecedented feat of aviation skill, an investigation was unfolding that threatened to destroy his reputation and his career.

Why It Might Succeed: As much as the awards bloggers like to deride Clint Eastwood for most of his post-Unforgiven directing work, the Academy is mostly warm to his touches. Since 2003, Eastwood has directed 11 (!!) movies, 8 of which received at least one Oscar nomination, 4 of which were nominated for Best Picture, and one of which WON Best Director.  In that same time span, he’s directed 10 (!!) actors to acting nominations, which has produced 4 winners.  Most recently, Eastwood received a DGA nomination and a Best Picture nomination for the massively successful, and your uncle’s favorite movie of 2014, America Sniper.

Also, Tom Hanks.  While Hanks himself hasn’t received an Oscar nomination since 2000 (!!), he’s no stranger to the Oscars in the meantime.  Since his last Oscar nomination in 2000, Hanks has starred in 10 films that received Oscar nominations, 3 of which were nominated for Best Picture while he was the lead actor.  Does this mean Hanks is a lock for a nomination? Heck no. But the Academy does like him, and one has to wonder if his heightened presence in prestige movies without a nomination recently (Captain Phillips and Bridge of Spies) might aid in his aim for a 6th Oscar nomination.  Do all these factors help Hanks’ case for a nomination?  To quote his recent Oscar-winning co-star, “the answer is clearly ‘yes.'”

My main focus of this film is a) Frank Marshall‘s producing hand.  His ability to pick prestige fair out from his typical blockbuster candy is impressive.  Likewise, 3-time nominee Laura Linney is playing a role typically beloved by Academy voters and an archetype that just won supporting actress this last year!  Even if Sully crashes, I’m think Linney might manage to survive to secure her 4th career nomination.

Finally…it’s a true story.  The Academy tends to be attracted to biopics, as evidenced by 3 of the 4 acting winners last year playing real people.

Why It Might Fail: It would be foolish to discount the flaccid nature with which Eastwood has directed many of his films since Letters from Iwo Jima.  Many critics have disliked his efforts of the last 10 years and the epic patriotism and politics surrounding American Sniper are more likely the reason for its success than Eastwood’s efforts.  Likewise, biopics are hit and miss. For every The Theory of Everything, there’s a The Fifth Estate.  For every Captain Phillips, there’s a Saving Mr. Banks.  Additionally, this has the high potency to be a paint-by-numbers biopic–guy does heroic thing, supportive wife stands by, turns out thing might be bad, and some actor is playing a vaguely evil government dude.

Oscar Potential:

Best Picture
Best Director – Clint Eastwood
Best Actor – Tom Hanks
Best Supporting Actress – Laura Linney
Best Supporting Actor – Aaron Eckhart
Best Adapted Screenplay – Todd Komarnicki
Best Film Editing – Blu Murray
Best Cinematography – Tom Stern
Best Sound Mixing
Best Sound Editing

Share your thoughts in the comments or on the message forums!

Check out the first official set of
Year-In-Advanced Oscar Predictions
and see where Sully ranks!