Awards Profile 2019: Cory Finley’s ‘Bad Education’

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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. If you miss a film covered, click on the tag or category for “Awards Profile.”

FILM: “Bad Education”

DISTRIBUTOR: TBD
DIRECTOR: Cory Finley
PRODUCERS: Fred Berger, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Julia Lebedev, Mike Makowsky, Oren Moverman, Eddie Vaisman
WRITER(S): Mike Makowsky
CAST: Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, Ray Romano, Geraldine Viswanathan, Kayli Carter, Rafael Casal, and Alex Woolf
SYNOPSIS: The unfolding of the largest public school embezzlement scandal in history (IMDB)

SCHEDULED RELEASE: TBD

POTENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS:

For a film called “Bad Education,” the project has lined up quite a good cast. Receiving top billing for this upcoming feature is Hugh Jackman, who earned an Oscar nomination for “Les Miserables” in 2012. After being overlooked for “Prisoners” and “The Front Runner,” Jackman could achieve an elusive second nomination. Giving the film even more awards pedigree is Allison Janney, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “I, Tonya” in 2018. Also included in the cast is Ray Romano looks to build off his lauded turn from “The Big Sick,” while his next feature “The Irishman” is poised to be a topic of conversation.

But while the film features an ensemble with famed veterans, rising star Geraldine Viswanathan could be the one to watch out for. Critics and fans alike took notice of the actress with her role in “Blockers,” but this year could mark her official breakthrough. Viswanathan recently starred in the TBS series “Miracle Workers” and received praise for her performance. Additionally, her starring vehicle “Hala” was picked up by Apple at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. With “Bad Education,” the rising star could find her first Oscar play, caping her star-making year.

POTENTIAL CHALLENGES:

Director Cory Finley made a successful debut with the dark comedy “Thoroughbreds” last year and landed a Best Screenplay nomination at the Gotham Independent Film Awards for his efforts. However, there’s always the possibility of the sophomore slump that directors often face. For every Jordan Peele that overcomes it, there’s a Dan Gilroy that doesn’t. Unlike “Thoroughbreds,” Finley isn’t penning the screenplay, which generates curiosity over how the filmmaker will fare directing someone else’s script.

Bearing the screenplay in mind, the film is said to bear similarities to the satire “Election” from 1999, which could indicate the push for Academy recognition. “Election” was an Oscar player upon its release but it only received an Adapted Screenplay nomination. Even its star Reese Witherspoon couldn’t manage a Best Actress nomination that she was anticipated to receive.

POTENTIAL AWARD CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

  • Motion Picture (Fred Berger, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Julia Lebedev, Mike Makowsky, Oren Moverman, Eddie Vaisman)
  • Director (Cory Finley)
  • Actor in a Leading Role (Hugh Jackman)
  • Actress in a Leading Role (Allison Janney)
  • Actor in a Supporting Role (Ray Romano, Rafael Casal, Alex Woolf)
  • Actress in a Supporting Role (Geraldine Viswanathan, Kayli Carter)
  • Original Screenplay (Mike Makowsky)

POTENTIAL KEY NOTICES FROM OTHER GROUPS:

  • Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (SAG Awards): The eclectic mix of veterans with incoming young actors should be enticing to SAG voters.
  • Best Breakthrough Performance (National Board of Review): Regardless of what category she will be campaigned in, Geraldine Viswanathan could be cited here along with her other performances from this year.

What do you think about “Bad Education” being an Oscar player? Do you think it could receive a passing or failing grade? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

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