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 movie, click on the tag or category Awards Profile.
FILM: “The Women of Marwen”
PRODUCERS: Cherylanne Martin, Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis
DIRECTOR: Robert Zemeckis
WRITERS: Caroline Thompson, Robert Zemeckis
CAST: Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, Gwendoline Christie, Eiza González, Janelle Monáe, Merritt Wever, Diane Kruger
SYNOPSIS: (from IMDb) A victim of a brutal attack finds a unique and beautiful therapeutic outlet to help him through his recovery process.
WHY IT MAY SUCCEED
First, a bit more background about this film. “The Women of Marwen” is based a 2010 documentary, “Marwencol.” That documentary tells the story of Mark Hogancamp, a man who was beaten and left with a traumatic brain injury outside of a bar. While recovering from his injuries and trying to cope, he built a 1/6th scale World War II-era town in his yard and named it Marwencol. The project served as a sort of art therapy for Hogancamp and helped him work through his physical and psychological recovery.
It may succeed because funnyman Steve Carell is also a talented dramatic actor. In fact, he’s often more compelling in his more serious roles. He has one Oscar nomination so far—for “Foxcatcher”— and three Golden Globe nominations for films including “Foxcatcher,” “The Big Short,” and “Battle of the Sexes.” This project sounds like it fulfills all of the things at which Carell excels. It’s slightly strange, but at times likely to be charming in its humor.
And the supporting cast around him is top notch. From what we’ve been able to find, Leslie Mann plays Mark’s neighbor. Gwendoline Christie is his Russian caretaker. Merrit Wever runs the toy shop that supplies Mark with all of his models. Janelle Monáe is a friend from the rehabilitation center. And Eiza González is a friend from the bar. But all of these women also have counterparts in Mark’s magical world of Marwen, too. Watching them all play essentially two characters could be a lot of fun. It also gives each of them a chance to show their skills.
The film comes from Robert Zemeckis, who is known for his fantastical worlds, even when they are based in reality. He won the Academy Award for directing “Forrest Gump” in 1995, but his other films include “Back to the Future,” “Death Becomes Her,” and “Flight.” Altogether, his films have earned 36 Academy Award nominations, winning 11. Most of those wins were for visual effects and sound, which will certainly be at play in “The Women of Marwen.”
Zemeckis co-wrote the script with Caroline Thompson. She wrote the screenplays for such beloved films as “Edward Scissorhands,” “The Addams Family,” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” While she has yet to score an Oscar nomination, she certainly has the talent to write new and strange worlds and explore interesting relationship dynamics.
Also behind the scenes, two-time Academy Award nominee Alan Silvestri is composing the score. His nominations both came on collaborations with Zemeckis. He wrote the original song “Believe” from “The Polar Express” and the score for “Forrest Gump.” Elsewhere, C. Kim Miles is the director of photography. Jeremiah O’Driscoll is the editor. And Stefan Dechant is the Production Designer. These craftsmen may not have a lot of awards to their names, but they have honed their craft on many of the films you know and love.
WHY IT MAY NOT SUCCEED
In the end, this film may simply end up being a little too strange, or a little too cute. It has the potential to fall in line with films like “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” That was sweet, but ultimately not an awards player. Steve Carell also has two other potentially high profile films that could draw attention away from this. One is the very dramatic “Beautiful Boy,” in which he plays a father facing his son’s meth addiction. The other is “Backseat,” where he appears as Donald Rumsfeld opposite Christian Bale’s Dick Cheney.
- Best Picture
- Best Director—Robert Zemeckis
- Lead Actor—Steve Carell
- Supporting Actress—Leslie Mann, Gwendoline Christie, Diane Kruger, Janelle Monáe, Eiza González, Merritt Wever
- Adapted Screenplay—Robert Zemeckis, Caroline Thompson
- Original Score—Alan Silvestri
- Visual Effects
- Production Design
- Sound Mixing/Editing