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: “Goodbye Christopher Robin”
PRODUCERS: Steve Christian, Damian Jones
DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Searchlight Pictures
DIRECTOR: Simon Curtis
WRITER: Frank Cottrell Boyce, Simon Vaughn
CAST: Margot Robbie, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Macdonald, Phoebe Waller-Bridge
SYNOPSIS (via iMDB): A behind-the-scenes look at the life of author A.A. Milne and the creation of the Winnie the Pooh stories inspired by his son C.R. Milne.
WHY IT MIGHT SUCCEED:
Most people have at least a passing relationship with Winnie the Pooh and all of his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. Although that interest wanes as we put off our childhood interests, the nostalgia often remains. And while the story of Winnie the Pooh is comfortable and familiar, little is known about his creator, A.A. Milne. Most only know that Winnie’s human friend, Christopher Robin, was named for the author’s son. In “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” director Simon Curtis brings the Milne family to life in the years following World War I. It could be similar to the nostalgia captured by the Oscar nominated “Finding Neverland.”
With a director and writers whose previous credits are mostly in television, this film’s current hopes are based mostly on its cast. Margot Robbie plays Daphne Milne, mother of Christopher Robin. Robbie has come a long way in the past few years. Since her short-lived series “Pan Am,” she has already appeared in a number of high-profile films and has several more already in the works. An Oscar nomination (and win) seem likely to come for her sooner than later.
Domhnall Gleeson is A.A. Milne. Gaining prominence with a small role in the “Harry Potter” films, Gleeson has been working steadily, finding his way into much more noticeable projects. His work in “The Revenant” did not yield a nomination, but it did garner attention. Likewise, “Star Wars” fans enjoy his dastardly General Hux. While his characters are usually on the periphery, he is talented and the right role should be able to showcase that.
WHY IT MIGHT NOT SUCCEED:
While “Goodbye Christopher Robin” could share elements with “Finding Neverland,” it also could suffer a similar fate as the charming, but mostly forgettable “Miss Potter.” That film, which starred Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, and Emily Watson, was the story of Peter Rabbit creator Beatrix Potter. It was directed by two-time Oscar nominee Chris Noonan, but couldn’t gain much traction with critics or audiences. From the family tragedies to the period drama, the two have a lot in common.
There is also the question of experience. Simon Curtis was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for “Pride.” He has also been nominated for a handful of BAFTAs. His filmography consists of television work and “My Week With Marilyn.” He also directed Helen Mirren in the underwhelming “Woman in Gold.” Writer Frank Cottrell Boyce has several more films on his filmography. But most of his cinematic work has been under the radar. Writing partner Simon Vaughn comes from the producing side. His previous writing credit involves a TV movie called “A Bear Named Winnie.”
Overall, this is a film that feels too unpredictable at this early stage. Its November release date seems appropriately timed for awards play. If it was released earlier, it would probably be forgotten by January.
POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES IN PLAY:
Best Director– Simon Curtis
Supporting Actress– Margot Robbie
Supporting Actor– Domhnall Gleeson
Original Screenplay– Frank Cottrell Boyce and Simon Vaughn
Cinematography– Ben Smithard
Production Design– Tim Blake
Costume Design– Odile Dicks-Mireaux