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 Good Liar”
DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros.
PRODUCERS: Bill Condon, Greg Yolen
DIRECTOR: Bill Condon
WRITER: Jeffrey Hatcher
CAST: Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen, Russell Tovey, Jim Carter
SYNOPSIS: A seasoned conman finds himself falling in love with the latest woman he conned, after meeting her online.
SCHEDULED RELEASE: November 15, 2019.
This is one of those movies with all the right names. Before you get to its Oscar-winning and nominated lead performers, you have the people behind the screen as well. Bill Condon is best-known in the Oscars world for his Academy Award for the screenplay of “Gods and Monsters,” the last non-Best Picture nominee to triumph in its category. He also directed “Dreamgirls,” of course, and wrote “Chicago.”
To “The Good Liar” he brings his usual cadre of collaborators. They include Carter Burwell, a composer who regularly works with Todd Haynes and The Coen Bros., among other Oscar luminaries. Burwell is himself a nominee for “Carol” and “Three Billboards.” This will be his seventh project with Condon. They also include cinematographer Tobias Schliessler who, although not exactly an awards mainstay, can hold his own. The German cinematographer has shot all of Peter Berg’s films as well as Condon’s live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast.” This will be the fifth time he works with Condon. His last project, “A Wrinkle in Time,” showcases his extraordinary cinematographic vision. Finally, screenwriter and playwright Jeffrey Hatcher is also onboard and is tasked with adapting the famous Nicholas Searle novel.
And then, of course, are Oscar winner Helen Mirren and Oscar nominee Ian McKellen. With that sort of star wattage and a November release date behind a studio that will not spare expense in making an Oscar push, any movie with this pedigree has to be considered a potential threat in all categories. The story of “The Good Liar,” about a thief that meets his match, is equal parts endearing and entertaining — at least if Hatcher shows any fealty to the source material.
In sum, this could be one of those late-breaking releases that come in to fill any perceived voids in the awards race.
Everyone who watches the awards race intimately knows that an impressive resume does not always translate into Oscar glory. Consider the last time Condon brought in this exact group together, including Hatcher as the screenwriter. The movie was called “Mr. Holmes,” also starred Sir Ian, and was for a moment or two whispered an Oscar contender. Does anyone remember the Oscar success of that movie? Exactly.
What went wrong for a movie with such production values based on a recognizable story? In my view, the answer lies in the fact that these aren’t exactly stories with wide audience appeal. When the Academy was older and more white, these sort of pictures resonated more easily. Today, they struggle mightily and becomes specialty arthouse films for mature audiences with little to no serious awards traction.
The project, without knowing more, reminds me of two of Mirren’s potential Oscar films that went nowhere. In 2009 she collaborated with Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station,” a movie with much promise that ended up with only a pair of acting nods. Then, more recently, she starred alongside Donald Sutherland in “The Leisure Seeker,” another decidedly adult drama. The relative lack of awards success for this type of film should give us pause being envisioning this movie going too far.
POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES IN PLAY:
- Motion Picture – Bill Condon and Greg Yolen
- Director – Bill Condon
- Actor – Ian McKellen
- Actress – Helen Mirren
- Adapted Screenplay – Jeffrey Hatcher
- Film Editing – Virginia Katz
- Cinematography – Tobias A. Schliessler
- Original Score – Carter Burwell