Awards Profile: The Imitation Game

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“The Imitation Game”

Director: Morten Tyldum

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Mark Strong, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance

Synopsis: English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, helps crack the Enigma code during World War II.

Why It Might Succeed:

Ever since “Shakespeare in Love” beat out “Saving Private Ryan” for Best Picture in 1999, Harvey Weinstein has become an omnipresent fixture in awards season. When he finds his go to film it quite often becomes a force to be reckoned with. It is early, but as of right now “The Imitation Game” looks to be Harvey’s ticket back to the Dolby Theater.

The Weinstein Company acquired the story of Alan Turning off a sizzle reel out of Sundance for the hefty price tag of $7 million. That tells us two things, that Harvey is already financially invested in this particular project, and that there is likely something quite special in the film.

“The Imitation Game” also consists of a number of qualities of typical Oscar fair. It’s set during World War II; it’s an adaptation of a true story and has a buzz about its leading man performance. Benedict Cumberbatch had his breakout year in 2013 with roles in 4 major films, including Best Picture winner “12 Years a Slave,” but this could easily be his best chance to land his first ever Oscar nomination as Turning.

Despite the WWII setting, it will also have timeliness to it. While Turning became famous for breaking the German code that helped the allies win the war, after he would be persecuted as a homosexual. The whole code-breaking thing could also be moderately reminiscing of the NSA scandal and the lengths governments go in the name of national security. All of this could help bring a greater sense of relevance to “The Imitation Game.”

Why It Might Fail: 

imitationgame_cumberbatchOf course, it could all mean nothing if the film can’t live up to those messages mentioned above. The big question mark for “The Imitation Game” is Morten Tyldum. Most of you are probably unfamiliar with him; that is because “The Imitation Game” is his first English-language film, and only his fourth feature film. Tyldum’s last, “Headhunters,” was nominated for Best Foreign Language film at the BAFTAs.

Having the Weinstein Co. at your back can also be a double edge sword. “The Imitation Game” is their big prize as of right now, but we are just heading into April. You can bet that Harvey won’t be quiet at Cannes or shy about acquiring another hot title should the chance present itself. We only have to look back to last year to see how things can change with what film gets the Weinstein Co.’s big push.

Prior to its release, “August: Osage County” seemed to be the company’s prize asset with its stacked cast and celebrated source material. But when audiences saw it the reaction was less than expected and “Philomena” proved to more of a crowd pleaser. The rest is history, “Philomena” received four nominations including Best Picture, and “August” managed to only get two noms for Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.

We don’t know what else the Weinstein Co. and Harvey will have in their stable when the race heats up, so we can’t know for sure which one he’ll back. “The Imitation Game” has a lot going for it and if it lives up to expectations it can be a major player, but first it will have to beat out its fellow Weinstein Co. films before it gets to truly make a play for the big prize.

Oscar Potential:

Best Picture
Best Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best Director
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Production Design
Best Costume Design
Best Score
Best Cinematography
Best Film Editing