Awards Profile 2019: Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ from Netflix

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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.  This week, I tackle Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman.”   If you miss a film covered, click on the tag or category for “Awards Profile.”

FILM: “The Irishman”

DISTRIBUTOR: Netflix
PRODUCERS: Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Irwin Winkler, Troy Allen, Gerald Chamales, Randall Emmett, Gastón Pavlovich, Jane Rosenthal
DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese
WRITERS: Steven Zaillian
CAST: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Anna Pacquin, Joe Pesci, Jesse Plemons, Bobby Cannavale, Harvey Keitel, Jack Huston, Ray Romano, and Stephen Graham
SYNOPSIS: Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a labor union official with mob connections, recalls his involvement in the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino), an American labor union leader. (Wikipedia)

Scheduled Release: To be announced, 2019

POTENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS

Martin Scorsese is back. After the long-gestational period for “The Irishman”, Scorsese is looking to reclaim Oscar glory. The master hasn’t won an Academy Award since his sole prize for Best Director over a decade ago for “The Departed.” In the years since the likes of Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga have won twice as many Oscar as he has. We recently got the teaser-iest of teasers for “The Irishman,” which only tells us that De Niro talks some. We know “The Irishman” will feature heavy use of de-aging, particularly on De Niro and Pacino. A technical marvel could help the film soar to great heights, much like Scorsese’s last effect-heavy film, “Hugo.” After all, the AMPAS has shown an affinity to awarding VFX in Oscar-y films versus great VFX from, say, comic book movies.

Additionally, one has to think the narratives to give De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci a “thanks for the memories” Oscar are high. After all, with Pacino playing Jimmy Hoffa, he could extend the streak of Best Actor winners hailing from biopics, particularly those of very famous men. And why sleep on long-overdue Harvey Keitel? While a catch-22 of sorts, Netflix backing Scorsese’s ganger drama will be released via Netflix. Much like “Roma” last year, expect the subscription service to throw money at this Oscar campaign. But according to THR, Scorsese is pushing hard for a proper wide release, which could alleviate the Netflix Concern in a major way.

POTENTIAL CHALLENGES:

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you: Mark Johnson penned the 2018 Awards Profile on “The Irishman” last year. Originally rumored to be a 2018 release, Scorsese’s latest was pushed to 2019, presumably because the VFX were still being perfected. Filming wrapped in March 2018. A relief of sorts to finally not have a Scorsese film rushed out for qualifying run the second the editing is over. But does the delay bode unwell? While Disney and the MCU nailed de-aging of Samuel L. Jackson, will ILM do as equally well with de-aging two superstars? We’ll see.

Also the rumored length of the film boarders on three hours; your enthusiasm may vary depending on how you react to that news. The Oscars are long from the days when they rewarded lengthy epics–the last film over 2.5 hours long to win Best Picture was, ironically, “The Departed.” And the last to touch on 3 hours was, unsurprisingly, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” Finally, the specter of Netflix may loom large yet again.

A few weeks out from “Roma” losing Best Picture and in the wake of Steven Spielberg’s comments on streaming films, one has to wonder if the industry will dig in. Or will the industry embrace a master like Scorsese? After all, would the AMPAS have embraced “Roma” without Netflix? Many have speculated that the AMPAS will embrace Netflix only once it is undeniable; while “Roma” may have been undeniable for some, will Scorsese’s grand opus do the trick?

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

  • Motion Picture (Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Irwin Winkler, Troy Allen, Gerald Chamales, Randall Emmett, Gastón Pavlovich, Jane Rosenthal)
  • Director (Martin Scorsese)
  • Actor in a Leading Role – Robert De Niro, Al Pacino
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – Anna Paquin
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – Joe Pesci, Jesse Plemons, Bobby Cannavale, Harvey Keitel, Jack Huston, Ray Romano, and Stephen Graham
  • Adapted Screenplay (Steven Zaillian)
  • Film Editing (Thelma Schoonmaker)
  • Cinematography (Rodrigo Prieto)
  • Production Design (Bob Shaw & Regina Graves)
  • Costume Design (Sandy Powell & Christopher Peterson)
  • Makeup & Hairstyling (Sean Flanigan & Nicki Ledermann)
  • Original Score (TBA)
  • Sound Mixing (Tod A. Maitland)
  • Sound Editing (TBA)
  • Visual Effects (Pablo Helman, Jiwoong Kim, & Taylor Schulte)

POTENTIAL KEY NOTICES FROM OTHER GROUPS

  • Best Director (DGA): In recent years, while we’ve enjoyed (?) nail-biting Best Picture races, Best Director has been predictable. You can see how the narrative around Scorsese getting this movie done with De Niro and Pacino, can lead to a sweep for Oscar #2.
  • Best Ensemble (SAG): While even the best years for ensembles can yield dubious Best Ensemble nominees (“A Star is Born” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”), one has to think “The Irishman” will be right at the top. With De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci leading the way, hard not to see actors embracing this.
  • Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography (American Society of Cinematographers): The great Rodrigo Prieto should be an Oscar winner a few times over, but he sits with only two AMPAS recognitions under his belt. While most journeymen directors have seen their DPs win many awards, Scorsese hasn’t has such luck. He has lead only two films to a Best Cinematography Oscar (Robert Richardson twice, with “The Aviator” and “Hugo”). Richardson will likely vie for his first ASC win for shooting Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

What do you think of “The Irishman” as an Oscar contender?  Can Martin Scorsese win #2?  Can Netflix buck the bias? SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS!

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