knightofcups

Directed By: Terence Malick
Written By: Terence Malick
Cast: Imogen Poots, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Joe Manganiello, Cate Blanchett, Teresa Palmer, Jason Clarke, Wes Bentley, Joel Kinnaman, Nick Offerman, Antonio Banderas, and Freida Pinto (though you should know by now, in a Malick film it is possible that any of these performers could be completely left behind on the cutting room floor)
Synopsis: A man, temptations, celebrity, and excess.

Why it could succeed:

Just as that synopsis above suggests, there is typically little known when Terence Malick begins production on a film. That being said, there isn’t much, thematically, to make an opinion on. However, one thing is certain when Malick gets behind the camera: the film will typically divide audiences.

For a director as renowned as Terence Malick, it is always surprising to look over his resume and find only six feature films in his 40-plus years behind the camera (spanning 1973-2013). A glimpse at the reclusive director’s year will rock your world, as you will find he has three films set for release in 2014 alone (don’t hold your breath with that coming to fruition). Along with Knight of Cups, IMDB lists Voyage of Time as well as another untitled production to hit theaters sometime this year. Ironically, the untitled production is the only one of the three to have a release date of any kind (September 4, in the Netherlands).

Of his six films, two have received Best Picture nominations (The Thin Red Line, 1998; The Tree of Life, 2011). Four of his six films have been nominated for Cinematography, with two of those nominations going to this past year’s Oscar-winner for Best Cinematography, Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity), who is back to helm yet another Malick film (his fourth, with the untitled film to be his fifth film with Malick). You can credit those nominations to the brilliant work of Malick’s cinematographers, but a lot can be said for the fact that Malick’s films are always deeply poetic, and provide excellent source material to spin visually.

It’s hard to gauge the odds of any of Malick’s actors being nominated, since, as I mentioned above, it is never a certainty that anyone will make the final cut. You might say Malick is the anti-David O. Russell of directors, or that he is for cinematographers what Russell is for actors.

Why it might not:

With Malick, there is always the concern that his film might be too inaccessible (think: To the Wonder; 2013). I believe I mostly covered the “why-nots” in my “why-it-could” section above, which is just about par for course with a Malick film. I hope I haven’t made it sound that I am not a fan, since I have only disliked one of his films thus far.

That being said, Malick is not the type of director to make films for awards, so you never really get Oscar-bait from his work. Terence Malick is an artist’s artist, which is to say he creates out of love and passion, and whether or not you or I or the Academy like his film enough to include it on any of our lists probably means squat to the visionary director.

With little else to go on, that is probably the biggest reason to bet against the film at the moment. And maybe the biggest reason to respect the hell out of this filmmaker.

Awards Speculation:

Cinematography
Picture
Director (Malick)
Original Screenplay (Malick)

Discuss in the comments.