2016 Awards Profile: ‘Patriots Day’ from Peter Berg

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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.

Director: Peter Berg

Writer: Matt Charman, Eric Johnson, Casey Sherman (book), Paul Tamasy, Dave Wedge (book)

Cast: Michelle Monaghan, Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, J.K. Simmons

Synopsis: An account of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis’s actions in the events leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists behind it.

Why It Might Succeed: Any time a film lands a limited December release with a wide early January release (aka prime awards season real estate), awards season analysts’ curiosity is instantly piqued. Such is the case with “Patriots Day,” which is scheduled for a Dec. 21 limited release and a Jan. 13 wide release. The amount of star power attached to this film is impressive, with several Golden Globe and Oscar winners/nominees in the stacked cast. Berg, whose last feature “Lone Survivor” received generally positive reviews but failed to live up to its early awards season hype, could be due for a hit. Ultimately, though, it’s the subject matter that bodes best for this film’s chances. Real life tragedies are rife with the intrigue, emotion and drama that the Academy eats up. If writers Matt Charman (“Bridge of Spies”), Eric Johnson (“The Fighter”) and Paul Tamasy (“The Fighter”) can create a powerful script (which their impressive pedigree would suggest is highly likely), look for this one to crop up again during awards season coverage.

Why It Might Fail: Peter Berg is mostly known for his big action films and lighter fare. While hardly a disqualifying mark, if the film veers too far into entertaining action film territory, it could hurt the film’s standing in the eyes of the Academy, which prefers smaller, arthouse dramas as a general rule. The film ultimately needs to strike the right chord between having just the right amount of action, accuracy and emotion without being melodramatic, and it must do justice to a tragic event that is still quite fresh in the memories of most Americans. Underperforming on such a tall order could definitely be this film’s undoing.

Oscar Potential:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director
  • Best Actor (Mark Wahlberg)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Michelle Monaghan)
  • Best Supporting Actor (John Goodman)
  • Best Editing
  • Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Sound Editing
  • Best Sound Mixing