Welcome to the 2015 Awards Profiles series. For the next two months, every day (except for Saturday), we will bring you a run down of a future 2015 film that we see as a potential awards vehicle for next year’s Academy Awards. This is all speculative since with just about all these films, we haven’t seen a frame yet. Nonetheless, we venture on. If you miss a film, then click on the tag “2015 Awards Profile.”
Director: Scott Cooper
Written by: Jez Butterworth and Mark Mallouk (screenplay), Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill (book)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon
Synopsis: (from IMdB) The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.
Why it may succeed:
Okay, but really, it’s a story about the mob. Ever since the early days of film, mob movies have typically done well. From Angels With Dirty Faces to The Departed, moviegoers have a fascination with stories of organized crime. East coast, west coast, international. It doesn’t really matter. We love it all.
And not only is Black Mass a mob movie, there are two additional factors going for it: 1) It is true, and 2) it is recent. Now, there are a few great mafia films out there based on true stories. Tales of Al Capone, Bugsy Siegel, and Donnie Brasco fascinate audiences every bit as much as those of the Corleones or the Sopranos. But the second factor is closely tied into this, and that is the fact that the story is recent news. With Whitey Bulger’s 2011 arrest and 2013 conviction, many will be wanting to learn just what he did and why the FBI so tenaciously sought him for decades. People will remember this case, will feel some degree of connection to it, and that will likely drive them to theaters.
The stellar cast doesn’t hurt, either. I was semi-joking when I said Johnny Depp is the reason this film might succeed, but only semi. And when you put him together with mega talents like Cumberbatch and Edgerton, this could be a very, very watchable film.
Why it Might Not:
This will be director Scott Cooper’s third film. His previous two, Crazy Heart and Out of the Furnace received mixed reviews for overall pace and storytelling, despite riveting performances from their respective stars. It’s unclear whether Scott Cooper has the directing prowess to give this film the attention it deserves. And because of Cooper’s lack of directing cred, Black Mass will have to really be spectacular to garner the kind of attention that will get this noticed at awards time; something that is made even more difficult by a September release date. That just seems a little too early to stick in the memory of voters during awards season.
Difficult, but not impossible.
Best Director: Scott Cooper
Best Actor: Johnny Depp
Best Supporting Actor: Benedict Cumberbatch
Best Supporting Actor: Joel Edgerton
Best Adapted Screenplay: Jez Butterworth and Mark Mallouk
Best Cinematography: Masanobu Takayanagi
Makeup & Hairstyling