Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writers: Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto, Dallas Roberts, Steve Zahn, Denis O’Hare, Jane McNeill, Griffin Dunne, Kevin Rankin, Joji Yoshida, Tony Bentley, Lawrence Turner
Synopsis: Loosely based on the true-life tale of Ron Woodroof, a drug taking, women loving, homophobic man who, in 1986 was diagnosed with full blown HIV/AIDS and given thirty days to live. He started taking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved AZT, the only legal drug available in the U.S, which brought him to the brink of death. To survive, he smuggled non-toxic, anti-viral medications from all over the world, but yet still illegal in the U.S. Other AIDS patients sought out his medications forgoing hospitals, doctors and AZT. With the help of his Doctor, Eve Saks and a fellow patient, Rayon, Ron unintentionally created the Dallas Buyers Club, the first of dozens which would form around the country, providing its paying members with these alternative treatments.
Why It Could Succeed:
When you get a group of actors who’ve turned in really good work in the past starring in a serious drama and playing against type, awards seem to follow. This cast is full of really talented people who some might say have gone under-rewarded in their careers and that’s catnip to awards voters. Matthew McConaughey has turned in good performances over the years, but it seems to be hitting a career sweet spot where he’s now being recognized for his acting ability more than his shirtlessness. The role of Ron Woodroof is as baity on the page as one could envision and he’s shown great dedication to the craft by losing all that weight. When you combine the career heat plus the material, you’ve got one of the strong contenders for Best Actor. Also the Academy has become increasingly aware of non-hetero-normative stories in the past few years, with Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Milk, and The Kids Are All Right making the Best Picture lineup. If this true life tale can be as vibrant as those movies, this could do well with the Academy.
Why It Could Fail:
Regardless of the pedigree, the Academy unfortunately still has a problem recognizing stories that are not about straight men in the Best Picture lineup. This is also high risk/high reward material for the actors. While the weight loss for McConaughey shows he’s dedicated to his craft, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a nom. It took Christian Bale years of doing that type of body yoyo before he got nominated, and won, for The Fighter. And if we’re being honest, none of the actors in this film aside from maybe Jared Leto in Requiem for a Dream or Jennifer Garner in Juno have been in serious awards contention, so there’s not much room for “overdue!” storylines to be thrown out. There’s also the fact that this is an indie film with a relatively unknown director (in America) at the helm, so it’ll have to really be great in order to steal attention away from the bigger films.
Best Bet for a Nom: Best Actor (Matthew McConaughey)
If They Like the Film: Best Supporting Actor (Jared Leto, Dallas Roberts), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Garner)
Long Shots: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay