2016 Awards Profile: ‘Allied’ from Robert Zemeckis

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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.

Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

Written By: Steven Knight

Cast: Brad Pitt, Marion Cottilard, Lizzy Caplan, Matthew Goode, Jared Harris, Iain Batchelor, Daniel Betts, Jason Matthewson, and more

Film Synopsis (via IMDb): Set in 1942 following a French-Canadian spy who falls in love and marries a French agent during a dangerous mission in Casablanca. He is notified that his wife is likely a Nazi spy and begins his own investigation of her.

bradpitt-624-1372166021Why it could succeed:
An epic romantic thriller set during World War II, starring two A-listers and directed by an A-list filmmaker? Yeah, that sounds like a pretty big deal for potential Academy love. When you take into account that the stars of Allied are Brad Pitt in the lead role, with second lead status going to Marion Cotillard, that only makes this bigger Oscar bait, and that’s not even considering that the director for this one is Robert Zemeckis. Armed with a screenplay by the highly respected scribe Steven Knight, Zemeckis seems to be doing something a bit different, though more along the lines of what a voter tends to take interest in. Of course, he’s an Academy Award winner in Best Director for Forrest Gump, so he’s no stranger to them already. Also, if you look down the line at his previous projects, his actors tend to do well, so that could be a feather in the cap for Pitt’s chances. In addition to Cotillard, who always seems to be on the verge of another nod, Pitt’s co-stars here include Lizzy Caplan, Matthew Goode, and Jared Harris, to name a few. It’s a strong group, so everything seems to be lining up for Allied to be a real player capable of scoring multiple noms. This one is a bit late to the game, so the buzz hasn’t quite begun yet, though once it finishes principal photography and begins to put out publicity material, I expect things to ramp up and expectations to increase. Right now though, flying slightly under the radar might even be a boon to Allied. That won’t last for long, however, especially if it’s good. In that case, expect it to become one of the more high profile contenders of the year.

Why it might not:
Honestly, the turnaround that this flick is hoping for in order to be ready for awards consideration and screenings in advance of the precursors is a pretty tight one. It’s only begun filming about a month ago, which almost always would mean a delay into 2017. There’s a real chance that Allied winds up getting pushed to next year, either because it’s just not finished in time or because Paramount Pictures opts to back a different horse of theirs. Considering that this is not a Plan B production, Pitt isn’t involved in this one as heavily as he is in other projects, so the push might not be as strong as it needs. That doesn’t even factor in literal competition from Pitt’s War Machine, which is definitely a possibility. Despite the big names, I can easily see the film getting lost in the shuffle in a big way. Remember, Pitt’s an Oscar winner because of his producing, not his acting, while Cotillard misses out on nominations in Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress fairly frequently. She’s got two citations, yes, but she’s far from automatic lock status. Zemeckis got back onto the radar for voters with Flight, but I’m not convinced he’s totally back as a prestige filmmaker to them just yet. As for Knight, he seems like a bit more popular of a writer to Academy members than he actually is, with his sole nomination coming over a decade ago for Dirty Pretty Things. The names involved sound impressive, and they’re all capable of getting in, but none are sure things in the least. The WWII setting helps thing, but you’d be hard pressed to put this one down for anything just yet. It simply hasn’t earned that status right now.

marioncotillardAwards Speculation:
If we do see Allied finished in time and high quality enough for voters to consider, this is a definite dark horse for major Oscar love. Obviously, you have to look at it as being a movie that will have an across the board push for awards. Campaigns in Best Picture, Best Director for Zemeckis, Best Actor for Pitt, Best Actress for Cotillard, Best Supporting Actor for Goode or Harris, Best Supporting Actress for Caplan, Best Original Screenplay for Knight, along with the technical categories. In the techs, things are highlighted by Best Cinematography, where lensing here is done by longtime Zemeckis collaborator Don Burgess, and Best Original Score, which is being conducted by Alan Silvestri. Other tech possibilities Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Makeup & Hairstyling. As with any project this far out, the techs are a total crapshoot, as basically are everything else for it. Pitt could wind up splitting votes with himself in Actor, but he and Cotillard in Actress are definitely ones to not sleep on. Zemeckis hasn’t been up for Director in a while, even when his films have been nominated, so he’s a possibility, though perhaps a bit of a longer shot. Picture obviously remains to be seen, but there’s certainly a chance. We just need to get a look at the movie once it’s done shooting. That will teach us a lot about if this is a contender or a pretender. Right now, it seems to be somewhere in between, though it won’t stay that way for too much longer. I suspect we’ll know a lot more around the end of the summer, with a festival bow somewhere coming for Allied before it hits theaters in late November.

Allied will be distributed by Paramount Pictures and released, possibly on a platform basis, on November 23rd, 2016.

Potential Nominations:

Best Picture
Best Director (Zemeckis)
Best Actor (Pitt)
Best Actress (Cotillard)
Best Supporting Actor (Goode or Harris)
Best Supporting Actress (Caplan)
Best Original Screenplay (Knight)
Best Production Design
Best Cinematography
Best Costume Design
Best Film Editing
Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Best Original Score

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