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Awards Profile: Azazel Jacobs’ ‘French Exit’ from Sony Pictures Classics

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Actress Michelle Pfeiffer arrives at the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

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: “French Exit”

DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Classics
PRODUCERS: Thorsten Schumacher
DIRECTOR: Azazel Jacobs
WRITERS: Patrick deWitt (Based on his novel by the same name)
CAST: Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges, Tracy Letts
SYNOPSIS:
 “An aging Manhattan socialite living on what’s barely left of her inheritance moves to a small apartment in Paris with her son and cat.” (IMDB)

Scheduled Release: To be announced, 2020

POTENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS: 

Actor Lucas Hedges

Michelle Pfeiffer was once Hollywood’s “it” girl. In the late 80s and early 90s, she was everywhere. Her flourishing film career and wise choices led to three Oscar nominations in quick succession for her work in “Dangerous Liaisons” (1988), “The Fabulous Baker Boys” (1989), and “Love Field” (1992). Pfeiffer spent the last two decades popping up here and there, but never with as much bravado. With this year’s upcoming “French Exit,” she is taking the lead, finally, once again.

Backing up Pfeiffer is Lucas Hedges and Tracy Letts. Both men have experienced booming careers as of late. Oscar nominee Hedges (2016’s “Manchester By the Sea) is one of the most exciting young actors working right now. With a filmography that includes “Lady Bird” (2017), “Ben is Back” (2018), “Honey Boy (2019), and “Waves (2019), Hedges has yet to make a bad movie.

Tony-winning actor and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Letts appeared in two films nominated for best picture last year- “Little Women and “Ford v. Ferrari.” He was, without a doubt, a stand-out in both. In 2017, Letts starred in the independent film “The Lovers.” Azazel Jacobs directed this film about the complexities of marriage, and now Jacobs is helming “French Exit.” His casting of Letts shows confidence and good taste.

POTENTIAL CHALLENGES:

Writer Patrick deWitt

The novel “French Exit” is a comedy (and tragedy) of manners. In the book, writer Patrick deWitt manages to strike the perfect tenor of humor and sadness occupying the life of an elitist American socialite. This is the first time deWitt is adapting his own novel. “The Sisters Brothers,” written by deWitt in 2011, was adapted in 2018, but by another writer. deWitt may be a talented novelist, but screenwriting is a different animal. Audiences hope his abilities can translate from the page to the big screen.

The plot of “French Exit” is fun, but a tad off-beat. Pfeiffer plays Frances Price, a woman who burned threw her inheritance and decides to move to Paris with her son (Hedges) and cat, Small Frank (Letts). She believes her cat is the embodiment of her late husband. On the page, it works beautifully and is great for laughs. But a talking cat on screen could turn some people off.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

  • Motion Picture (Trish Doman, Olivier Glass, Christine Haebler, Katie Holly, Stuart Manashil, Christina Provesan, Thorsten Schumacher, Noah Segal)
  • Director (David Fincher)
  • Actress in a Leading Role (Michelle Pfeiffer)
  • Actor in a Supporting Role (Lucas Hedges)
  • Adapted Screenplay (Patrick deWitt)
  • Production Design (Jean-Andre Carriere)
  • Costume Design (Jane Petrie)
  • Makeup & Hairstyling (Géraldine Lemaire)

POTENTIAL KEY NOTICES FROM OTHER GROUPS

  • Best Actress (Golden Globes): Michelle Pfeiffer has been nominated for seven Golden Globes during her career. And unprecedentedly, six years in a row between 1989 and 1994. She won once in 1990 for “The Fabulous Baker Boys.” When she is working, the Hollywood Foreign Press loves to shower her with praise.
  • Best Film (César Awards): “The Brothers Sisters” received nine nominations in 2019. Although “French Exit” is produced by a different team, both stories came from the mind of deWitt.

What do you think of “French Exit” as an Oscar contender? Can Michelle Pfeiffer make a comeback as the headlining talent? Share your thoughts in the comments!

What do you think?

72 points

Written by Jessica White

Jessica White studied film and theater at California State University, Sacramento graduating in 2009 with a B.A.. Upon graduation, she shifted her focus towards healthcare and became a dentist, graduating from the Oregon Health and Science University in 2017. She is actively serving in the United States Navy overseas, but continues to feed her passion for the visual arts, her first love.

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