2017 Awards Profile: ‘The Snowman’ From Universal Pictures

Welcome to the 2017 Awards Profile 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 few weeks, we will bring you a film every Monday and Wednesday 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.

FILM: “The Snowman”
PRODUCERS: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Robyn Solvo, Peter Gustafsson
DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures

DIRECTOR: Tomas Alfredson
WRITER: Hossein Amini, Matthew Michael Carnahan

CAST: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, J.K. Simmons

SYNOPSIS (via iMDB): Detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman.

WHY IT MIGHT SUCCEED:

Ever since his breakout horror film “Let the Right One In” in 2008, Sweden’s Tomas Alfredson has emerged as one of the most exciting directors in the business. He followed up that success with “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” which garnered three Oscar nods for Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score. For his upcoming effort, he could increase that nomination haul with the crime drama “The Snowman,” based on the novel by the same name. The film will be headlined by Michael Fassbender, a popular two-time Oscar nominee who will surely attract voters’ attention. And below-the-line, screenwriter Hossein Amini (“The Wings of the Dove”) and film editor Claire Simpson (“Platoon”) also bring prior awards cred.

Whether these elements will translate to a Best Picture nod remains to be seen, but regardless, Alfredson could still figure into the Best Director race à la Bennett Miller for “Foxcatcher,” a category that has been very kind to foreign filmmakers in recent years. His previous films showed a great skill for creating atmosphere and this could provide a showcase for cinematographer Dion Beebe (“Memoirs of a Geisha”) and the sound team.

WHY IT MIGHT NOT SUCCEED:

Though it looks good on paper, a starry prestige drama from a major studio doesn’t mean the same thing it used to in the Oscar sphere. The Academy has gradually gravitated towards smaller indies, honoring the Spirit Award winner for the past four years. In particular, Universal Pictures hasn’t been a major Oscar player since “Les Miserables” in 2012. Their last hopeful was in fact another Michael Fassbender vehicle (“Steve Jobs”), which severely underperformed with the Academy despite a considerably more “baity” premise and the enviable talent involved.

Perhaps the biggest question is whether the film feels “important” enough. Just recently, the stylish crowdpleaser “La La Land” was upset by the more “artsy” and socially relevant “Moonlight.” Similarly, the whistleblowing journalism drama “Spotlight” overcame the spectacle of “The Revenant” the year before. As the Academy’s taste has come under increasing public scrutiny, a fictional crime drama with an all-white cast no longer seems like a slam dunk.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

  • Motion Picture
  • Director
  • Actor in a Leading Role – Michael Fassbender
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – Rebecca Ferguson
  • Adapted Screenplay
  • Cinematography
  • Editing
  • Achievement in Sound Editing
  • Achievement in Sound Mixing

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

Check out the first official set of
Year-In-Advance Oscar Predictions
and see where “The Snowman ranks!