2018 Awards Profile: Sony Pictures Classics’ ‘The Wife’ by Bjorne Runge

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: “The Wife”

PRODUCERS: Claudia Bluemhuber, Meta Louise Foldager Sorensen, Rosalie Swedlin, Piers Tempest, Jo Bamford, Piodor Gustafsson

DIRECTOR: Bjorne Runge

DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Classics

RELEASE DATE: August 3, 2018

WRITERS: Jane Anderson (adapted from Meg Wolitzer’s novel)

CAST: Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Max Irons, Harry Lloyd, Annie Starke, Alix Wilton Regan

SYNOPSIS (from IMDB): A wife questions her life choices as she travels to Stockholm with her husband, where he is slated to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.

WHY IT MIGHT SUCCEED:

What will it take to get Glenn Close her well deserved Oscar? Close ties Deborah Kerr and Thelma Ritter for the most nominations for an actress without a win (six). Adding in males, she ranks third, behind Peter O’Toole (eight) and Richard Burton (seven). Close hit her stride in the 80s with five nominations – “The World According to Garp” (1982), “The Big Chill” (1983), “The Natural” (1984), “Fatal Attraction” (1987) and “Dangerous Liaisons” (1989).

Her most recent nomination came for “Albert Nobbs” in 2011. Middling reviews and even worse box office kept Close from winning that year. However, with “The Wife” already getting stronger reviews, Close’s overdue narrative couldn’t be better. The performance is said to be restrained but have a mighty force. Could this be the career reward we’ve been waiting to see Close get?

Many times acting frontrunners bring along a coattail nomination or two (Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart,” Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy in “The Revenant”). This bodes well for Jonathan Pryce as Close’s husband. Pryce is a respected actor who has not yet received an Oscar nomination. If the chemistry with Close is there, he could find himself at the Dolby next year.

Even Picture and Writing could be in play if “The Wife” really catches on. “Philomena” stands out as a good example for how this could happen. The film was originally just going to be a play for Judi Dench and possibly screenplay. Once the film hit audiences, however, audiences and voters responded to the sentimentality of the story. “The Wife” should appeal to these same predominantly older voters. If it hits big in the summer, we may need to look at this as a dark horse in other categories.

WHY IT MIGHT NOT SUCCEED:

Behind the camera, the names attached to the film are smaller than star Glenn Close. Swedish director Bjorne Runge makes his English language debut with “The Wife.” However, he has not had much awards success since “Om jag vänder mig om” in 2003, which won the Blue Angel prize at the Berlin Film Festival. This could mean “The Wife” will be much less of a threat across all categories.

We’ve been at this place with Glenn Close recently. Her last passion project, “Albert Nobbs,” only received nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. “The Wife” is a small film about this central couple. While the reviews have praised the performances, the film as a whole hasn’t been bandied around as a major Picture contender. This could change depending on the field. However, it’s possible that once the bigger players come in this might be a “performance only” film. Many films that were contenders in acting categories only showed up in acting categories – such as “Still Alice” and “Beginners.”

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

  • Picture – Claudia Bluemhuber, Meta Louise Foldager Sorensen, Rosalie Swedlin, Piers Tempest, Jo Bamford, Piodor Gustafsson
  • Actress in a Leading Role – Glenn Close
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – Jonathan Pryce
  • Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – Jane Anderson (adapted from Meg Wolitzer’s novel)

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CHECK OUT THE FIRST OFFICIAL SET OF
YEAR-IN-ADVANCE OSCAR PREDICTIONS
AND SEE WHERE “THE WIFE” RANKS!