Awards Profile 2019: Edward Norton’s ‘Motherless Brooklyn’ from Warner Bros.

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: “Motherless Brooklyn”

DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros. Pictures
DIRECTOR: Edward Norton
PRODUCERS: Stuart Bloomberg, Bill Migliore, Edward Norton, Gigi Pritzker
WRITER(S): Edward Norton (based on the book by Jonathan Lethem)
CAST: Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Leslie Mann, Bobby Cannavale, Alec Baldwin
SYNOPSIS: A private investigator with Tourette syndrome works to solve the mystery of his mentor’s murder in 1950s New York.

SCHEDULED RELEASE: November 1, 2019

POTENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS

Edward Norton has been developing “Motherless Brooklyn” since at least the early 2000s. Based on a popular novel of the same name, this will be the second directorial effort of Norton’s career.

Norton has been nominated for three Oscars thus far in his career. Those three nominations were for performances in “Primal Fear,” “American History X” and “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).” As a widely respected actor who has yet to win, Norton is always a threat to make the Best Actor lineup.

Norton’s previous directorial effort was “Keeping the Faith,” a light romantic comedy. But what the actor turned filmmaker can do with more dramatic material remains to be seen.

Elsewhere in the cast, Willem Dafoe and Bruce Willis look like possibilities in the Best Supporting Actor race. This would be the first nomination for Willis and the fifth for Dafoe. Gugu Mbatha-Raw also seems likely to land an Oscar nomination, so this could very well be her first. Whether or not any of these people make the cut will ultimately depend on the quality of the film.

POTENTIAL CHALLENGES

Recently, Willem Dafoe has been edging closer and closer to Oscar victory. He has four nominations in his career and has been nominated in each of the last two years. In 2018, he was the presumed frontrunner for “The Florida Project” and in 2019, he was a surprise nominee for “At Eternity’s Gate.” The Academy looks set to reward him for a stellar career, but the question is which role will receive the honor.

This year, Dafoe also has “The Last Thing He Wanted” under the distribution of Netflix. Thus far, it looks like his chances at making the cut for that role are much better. In fact, he is currently #1 in Best Supporting Actor in AwardsCircuit’s Weekly Oscar Predictions, but it is unlikely he will compete for both, so his performance in “Motherless Brooklyn” may miss out.

The film’s chances in all other categories will ebb and flow with the quality of the work. The Academy is sometimes skeptical of actors becoming directors – that skepticism was displayed as recently as last year when “A Star Is Born” underperformed all expectations and Bradley Cooper missed out on a nomination for Best Director. The film will have to overcome the stigma if it wants to be a serious contender across the board.

POTENTIAL AWARD CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

  • Motion Picture (Stuart Bloomberg, Bill Migliore, Edward Norton, Gigi Pritzker)
  • Director (Edward Norton)
  • Actor in a Leading Role (Edward Norton)
  • Actor in a Supporting Role (Willem Dafoe, Bruce Willis)
  • Actress in a Supporting Role (Gugu Mbatha-Raw)
  • Adapted Screenplay (Edward Norton)
  • Costume Design (Amy Roth)

POTENTIAL KEY NOTICES FROM OTHER GROUPS

  • Best Performance by a Cast Ensemble (SAG Awards): Large and famous cast is one of the prerequisites for the guilds top prize.
  • Best Motion Picture, Drama (Golden Globes): HFPA loves star power and Edward Norton is a famous face.

Are you excited or skeptical about Edward Norton’s “Motherless Brooklyn?” Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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