Welcome to the 2020 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 David Fincher’s “Mank.”   If you miss a film covered, click on the tag or category for “Awards Profile.”

FILM: “Mank”

DISTRIBUTOR: Netflix
PRODUCERS: David Fincher, Ceán Chaffin, William Doyle, Eric Roth, and Douglas Urbanski
DIRECTOR: David Fincher
WRITERS: Jack Fincher
CAST: Gary Oldman, Tom Burke, Lily Collins, Tuppence Middleton, Amanda Seyfried, and Charles Dance
SYNOPSIS:
Follows screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz’s tumultuous development of Orson Welles’ iconic masterpiece Citizen Kane (1941). (IMDB)

Scheduled Release: To be announced, 2020

POTENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS: 

David Fincher might be the best working director yet to win an Oscar. Nominated twice for Best Director in 2008 (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) and 2010 (“The Social Network”), the Denver, CO native might end up being the lead storyline this upcoming awards season. The two films he was nominated for directing also went on to receive Best Picture nominations.

The Academy loves stories of its own kind. Hollywood/showbiz themed films to win big at the Oscars over the past decade include “The Artist” (2011), “Argo” (2012), and “Birdman” (2014). Other films based around the craft of acting/filmmaking that have received Picture and Director nods include “Black Swan” (2010), “Hugo” (2011), “La La Land” (2016), and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (2019). “Black Swan” might feel like a bit of a stretch, but its central character is a stage performer, so bear with me.

It also doesn’t hurt that “Mank” is centered around the making of Orson Welles’ masterpiece “Citizen Kane,” which is widely considered the greatest film of all time. Many of its devoted fans reside within the Academy and will be casting votes next winter.

POTENTIAL CHALLENGES:

In the past two years, Netflix has suffered less than hoped for Oscar outcomes. In 2018, “Roma” lost Best Picture to “Green Book,” while “The Irishman” just went home empty-handed after receiving ten nominations. This left us continuing to wonder when the online streaming giant will eventually break through and win the coveted prize. Following a stellar showing in 2019 that included Best Picture nominations for “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story,” the giant hurdle that was once attributed with being a Netflix film seems to be less of a worry and hopefully more of a thing of the past.

We are a long way out from awards season, and therefore we are yet to see much of anything real about “Mank” just yet (aside from cast and crew and a briefly vague synopsis). Without a trailer or even any real stills from the film, it is impossible to know just what, exactly, we are dealing with. At this point, it’s speculation at best to bet on Fincher and the theme of the film to be something the Academy might fall for. We are yet to see what approach or tone the film will take. God willing, the film won’t be pushed back a year like Scorsese’s Irish mob flick was from in 2018.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

  • Motion Picture (David Fincher, Ceán Chaffin, William Doyle, Eric Roth, and Douglas Urbanski)
  • Director (David Fincher)
  • Actor in a Leading Role (Gary Oldman)
  • Actress in a Supporting Role (Lily Collins, Tuppence Middleton, Amanda Seyfried)
  • Actor in a Supporting Role (Tom Burke)
  • Original Screenplay (Jack Fincher)
  • Film Editing (Kirk Baxter)
  • Cinematography (Erik Messerschmidt)
  • Production Design (Donald Graham Burt)
  • Costume Design (Trish Summerville)
  • Makeup & Hairstyling (Yiotis Panayiotou, Kimberley Spiteri, Myesha Starks, and Jens Zilken)
  • Original Score (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)
  • Sound Mixing (Drew Kunin)

POTENTIAL KEY NOTICES FROM OTHER GROUPS

  • Best Director (DGA): Another award that has dodged Fincher for years, it will be insightful to see how this guild leans.
  • Best Ensemble (SAG): Our most recent Best Picture winner, “Parasite,” won this major prize on its way to victory. How will the guild that represents the largest branch of the Academy vote this time around?
  • Best Edited Feature Film (ACE): Kirk Baxter has won two Oscars working on Fincher films – “The Social Network” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” While he was nominated for both, he won the ACE Eddie for the former.

What do think of “Mank” as an Oscar contender? Can David Fincher win his first Oscar for Best Director? Can Netflix finally win the coveted Best Picture prize? Share your thoughts in the comments!