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

FILM: “Annette”

DISTRIBUTOR: Amazon Studios
DIRECTOR: Leos Carax
PRODUCERS: Charles Gillibert, Paul-Dominique Vacharasinthu, Kenzô Horikoshi, Genevieve Lemal
WRITER(S): Ron Mael, Russell Mael
CAST: Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, Simon Helberg
SYNOPSIS: A stand-up comedian and his opera singer wife, have a 2 year old daughter with a surprising gift. (IMDB)

SCHEDULED RELEASE: To Be Announced, 2020

POTENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS:

As with any film coming out within the next couple years, the mere presence of Adam Driver lends it a bit of momentum in terms of critical and audience appeal. He’s one of the most popular actors working at the moment, coming off Oscar nominations for his work in “Blackkklansman” in 2017 and “Marriage Story” last year. Given how quickly his performance of “Being Alive” became a stand-out moment in “Marriage Story,” it seems only reasonable that fans will be eager to see how he fares as the lead in a full musical.

His co-star Marion Cotillard is no slouch when it comes to critical attention, either. In 2008, she won an Academy Award for her performance in “La Vie en Rose,” as French singer Édith Piaf, notably another film that utilized her vocal talents. She was also nominated for Best Actress in “Two Days, One Night,” making her one of only six actors ever to be nominated for multiple non-English language performances.

It’ll be interesting to see how audiences respond to this as an entirely original musical. Although half of the ten musical Best Picture winners have been productions not based on an established theatrical property, an original musical hasn’t won Best Picture in over sixty years (the last film to claim that honor was “Gigi” in 1968.) Still, the musical genre is hardly an overcrowded field, and new releases are generally received positively by both audiences and the Academy. The novelty factor alone may make it a contender.

POTENTIAL CHALLENGES:

The biggest issue facing “Annette” is simply that it contains a lot of unknowns. Director Leos Carax is a quirky, independent filmmaker. Still, although his work has been critically well-received, it hasn’t made a significant impact on the American box office or at the Academy Awards. His best-known projects have been “The Lovers on the Bridge” and “Holy Motors,” the latter of which made several top ten lists for 2012. But this is also his English language debut, and it’s difficult to gauge how significant an impact that type of transition can have on filmmakers.

“Annette” also serves as a new venture for its writers. Ron and Russell Mael are a pair of brothers who make up the band “Sparks” and have been writing music together professionally since the late 1960s. Nevertheless, this will be their first attempt at both composing original songs for an entire film as well as serving as screenwriters.

Which brings us to another potential snag. “Annette” appears to be a musical film that is entirely comprised of songs, with no words actually spoken. While this is not particularly uncommon in the theater world, this affection may put off the casual film-goer. This is especially worrisome since audiences will have little pre-existing attachment to the story, which many musicals based on popular stage productions often rely on.

POTENTIAL AWARD CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

  • Motion Picture (Charles Gillibert, Paul-Dominique Vacharasinthu, Kenzô Horikoshi, Genevieve Lemal)
  • Director (Leos Carax)
  • Actor in a Leading Role (Adam Driver)
  • Actress in a Leading Role (Marion Cotillard)
  • Production Design (To be announced)
  • Cinematography (Caroline Champetier)
  • Costume Design (To be announced)
  • Film Editing (To be announced)
  • Makeup and Hairstyling (To be announced)
  • Original Score (Ron Mael, Russell Mael)
  • Original Song (Ron Mael, Russell Mael)

POTENTIAL KEY NOTICES FROM OTHER GROUPS

  • Best Motion Picture, Musical, or Comedy (Golden Globes): Given the requirements of the category, any time there’s a true musical included in the mix, it always seems to have a better chance of doing well.
  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Lead Actor in a Motion Picture (SAG): The Screen Actors Guild seems to have a soft spot for Adam Driver, having nominated him on four separate occasions over the years.

What do you think about the prospects for Leos Carax’s “Annette?” Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!