Welcome to the 2018 Awards Profile series, where we talk about films coming to a theater near you at some point this year (at least at this time of writing). 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 through Friday to talk about their awards hopes and analyze the film’s chances for success. 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: “Where’d You Go, Bernadette”
PRODUCERS: Megan Ellison, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Ginger Sledge, and more
DISTRIBUTOR: Annapurna Pictures
DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater
WRITERS: Richard Linklater, Holly Gent Palmo, and Vincent Palmo Jr.
CAST: Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, Laurence Fishburne, Troian Bellisario, Claudia Doumit, James Urbaniak, and more
SYNOPSIS (via iMDB): After her anxiety-ridden mother disappears, 15-year-old Bee does everything she can to track her down, discovering her troubled past in the process.
WHY IT MIGHT SUCCEED:
Filmmaker Richard Linklater has quietly racked up an impressive number of Academy Award nominations. With five Oscar citations so far, the man is due to finally get a win. Last year’s baity offering “Last Flag Flying” was ignored, but Linklater is back with another potential contender. Adapting the Maria Semple novel “Where’d You Go Bernadette,” the writer/director might have found a worthy vehicle to attract voters. It’s just a matter of time for Linklater, who tends to follow the beat of is own drummer.
Along for the ride with Linklater, this time is Cate Blanchett, who is always a threat for Oscar when she has a plum role. She’ll play the title character Bernadette Fox, whose disappearance sparks the film. Name supporting players to include Billy Crudup, Laurence Fishburne, Judy Greer, and Kristen Wiig, while Troian Bellisario and Claudia Doumit round out the cast. Linklater mainstays Sandra Adair and Shane F. Kelly are behind the scenes as editor and cinematographer, respectively. The success that the filmmaker found with “Boyhood” was partly due to their work, so seeing them with the director again is a definite good sign.
“Where’d You Go Bernadette” is another release from Annapurna Pictures that seeks to make the distributor a force to be reckoned with. Producer Megan Ellison appears destined to have an Oscar for Best Picture on her mantle one day, so why not with Linklater? This female-centric title could hit a sweet spot this year and really make a play. The book upon which the movie is based is rather well regarded, and that’s a plus too. Whatever Ellison, Linklater, and company saw in the title, this is going to get a strong push from Annapurna when it opens in October.
Until proven otherwise, Linklater is a director who makes movies worth awards consideration. Not every film of his hits, but at this point in his career, anything he chooses to make deserves this treatment early on. With ace source material, a strong cast, top notch behind the scenes talent, and an exciting distributor/producer, the ingredients are here for a big Academy Award player.
WHY IT MIGHT NOT SUCCEED:
As much as “Boyhood” was a big-time Oscar movie, Linklater’s works, outside of the two latter installments in the “Before Sunrise” trilogy, have not really hit with voters. His aforementioned unique taste is wonderful for film fans, but the Academy doesn’t always flock to that sort of vision. In fact, even when he targets their sort of material, like with “Last Flag Flying” in 2017, they can snub him. Five nominations are nothing to sneeze at, but they’re somewhat bunched together. Voters pick and choose when they embrace Linklater.
Realistically, “Where’d You Go Bernadette” may far best as a vehicle for Blanchett, which could hurt its chances overall. If members of the Academy think it’s her or bust, they may end up snubbing the whole thing. This doesn’t mean any success for Linklater’s flick, but it could mean limited success, and that’s a potential concern. When you’re not one of the absolute top early presumed frontrunners, widespread possibilities are your friend. The limited appeal is the enemy, so that’s something this movie needs to push back against.
As promising as Annapurna is as a distributor, they still haven’t done much as their own self-sufficient company. There’s also the risk that they can’t handle two big contenders, what with “Backseat” their other baby and all. They’ll almost certainly try to give attention to both films, but that could be wishful thinking. If “Where’d You Go Bernadette” is their number two product to sell, it may not get the push it needs. Time will tell, but that’s a legitimate concern for the fall release.
POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES IN PLAY:
Motion Picture – Megan Ellison, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Ginger Sledge, etc
Director – Richard Linklater
Actress in a Leading Role – Cate Blanchett (Could go Supporting)
Actor in a Supporting Role – Billy Crudup
Actress in a Supporting Role – Troian Bellisario, Cate Blanchett (Could go Lead), Judy Greer, and Kristen Wiig
Adapted Screenplay – Richard Linklater, Holly Gent Palmo, and Vincent Palmo Jr.
Production Design – Bruce Curtis
Cinematography – Shane F. Kelly
Costume Design – Kari Perkins
Film Editing – Sandra Adair
Makeup & Hairstyling
Original Score – Graham Reynolds