Welcome to the 2019 Awards Profile series, where we talk about films coming to a theater near you in the coming year (at least at this time of writing). The series analyzes the films and their awards season potential, most notably for the Academy Awards, based on the talents attached, filmmakers involved, and story and source material. Monday through Friday until mid-May, AwardsCircuit will bring you a new and exciting project and discuss its chances for success. If you have a suggestion for a movie we should cover, include it in the comments section below. If you miss a film covered, click on the tag or category for “Awards Profile.”
FILM: “The Lighthouse”
PRODUCERS: Youree Henley, Jay Van Hoy, Jeffrey Penman, Lourenço Sant’ Anna, Rodrigo Teixeira
DIRECTOR: Robert Eggers
WRITERS: Robert Eggers & Max Eggers
CAST: Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson
SYNOPSIS: The story of an aging lighthouse keeper named Old who lives in early 20th-century Maine. (IMDb)
Scheduled Release: To be announced, 2019
Fans of Robert Eggers have been eagerly awaiting his next film. The director broke through with the stunning horror film “The Witch” in 2015 (it released outside of festival competition in 2016). It felt like a breakthrough for horror this decade and immediately became divisive. Regardless of your feelings toward “The Witch,” it became clear that Eggers was a director to watch. A24 choosing to distribute was another vote of confidence.
So far, we know “The Lighthouse” will be a fantasy horror, set in a time when the world believed in myths about the sea. That likely means we’ll be revisiting a period setting. This bodes well for fans of “The Witch,” because nearly the entire crew, including costume designer Linda Muir, returns. Additionally, it will be shot in black and white, with DP Jarin Blaschke returning as well. Below-the-line, “The Lighthouse” could harken back to the Universal Monster days.
What Oscar prognosticators are most excited for is the presence of Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. Each has arguably given their best performances of their careers in A24 features. Dafoe comes into a leading role after back-to-back nominations from the Academy, and four in his career. Pattinson is searching for his first, but many have pegged him as an indie darling with “Good Time,” “The Lost City of Z” and “High Life” all giving him standout roles. Add in the on-set stories from regarding the intensity of the project, and both actors have the potential to provide career-best work.
Horror films are a tough gamble with the Academy. Just last year, we watched a technically marvelous film with top tier performances go home without an Oscar nomination. Even the family-friendly horror (“A Quiet Place”) lost its only nomination. For some, horror might be a bridge too far.
Dafoe and Pattinson also get the benefit of having other work coming out in 2019. Dafoe will appear in Netflix’s “The Last Thing He Wanted,” and “Motherless Brooklyn” in 2019. Meanwhile, Pattinson has “The King” coming out from Netflix. With stories that Pattinson almost punched Eggers on set, it could be possible he won’t campaign as hard for “The Lighthouse” as “The King” later in the year. Last but not least, can a black and white horror film really overtake the more Academy-friendly films?
Additionally, “The Witch” was divisive. Some people legitimately hate the film, while others praise it as one of the very best horror movies of the century. That sound familiar to “Hereditary,” and with A24 distributing again, can we trust them to get “The Lighthouse” over the finish line?
POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES IN PLAY:
- Motion Picture (Youree Henley, Jay Van Hoy, Jeffrey Penman, Lourenço Sant’ Anna, Rodrigo Teixeira)
- Director (Robert Eggers)
- Actor in a Leading Role – Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson
- Original Screenplay (Robert & Max Eggers)
- Cinematography (Jarin Blaschke)
- Production Design (Craig Lathrop)
- Costume Design (Linda Muir)
- Makeup & Hairstyling (Traci Loader)
- Original Score (To be announced)
- Sound Mixing (To be announced)
- Sound Editing (To be announced)
- Film Editing (Louise Ford)
POTENTIAL KEY NOTICES FROM OTHER GROUPS
- Best Actor for Willem Dafoe (Critics Choice): There’s a strong chance that the critics line up behind Dafoe. Over the past few years, they’ve been willing to acknowledge great performances in weird films. Career narratives for genre work also build a better case in critics circles.
- Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie (Critics Choice): Even if it cannot break through in other categories, “The Witch” earned a nomination here. Critics like Eggers, so it should get a nomination here, even if other groups pass on it.
- Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography (American Society of Cinematographers): This group loves black and white films, even when Oscar does not go their way. Since 2010, “Roma,” “Cold War,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and “The Artist,” have all been recognized. If “The Lighthouse” gets strong reviews, it could break through with the guild.