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: “The French Dispatch”

DISTRIBUTOR: Searchlight Pictures
DIRECTOR: Wes Anderson
PRODUCERS: Wes Anderson, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson
WRITER(S): Wes Anderson (screenplay); Wes Anderson, Jason Schwartzman, Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness (story)
CAST: Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson
SYNOPSIS: A love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in “The French Dispatch” magazine. (IMDB)

SCHEDULED RELEASE: July 24, 2020

POTENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS:

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Throughout his almost 25 year career behind the camera, Wes Anderson has charmed audiences with some of the most original tales we have seen on screen. His whimsical style invites everyone into unique cinematic worlds, unlike anything made today. Celebrated by critics and the general public, Anderson’s landed seven Oscar nominations throughout his career. With “The French Dispatch,” his tenth feature, there is potential for the Academy to praise him again.

In his live-action follow-up to 2014’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The French Dispatch” follows an American newspaper located in a small, fictionalized city in France. Editor Arthur Howitzer Jr (Bill Murray) and his eclectic band of journalists thrive on telling the most important news in and around the European country. Beyond this being a “love letter” to journalists around the world, it’s also about the struggles writers face when trying to tell the stories they want to tell in evolving times. With this in mind, Anderson might have made his most relatable work considering the current state of the printed press.

Carrying out his latest opus is one of the biggest collections of talent ever assembled for the big screen. Murray, along with Tilda Swinton, Adrian Brody, Owen Wilson, Frances McDormand, Saoirse Ronan, Willem Dafoe, and Angelica Huston, highlights the cast members returning to work with Anderson again. But beyond his stable of regulars, Anderson has also brought on first-time collaborators Timothée Chalamet, Jeffrey Wright, Benicio del Toro, Elisabeth Moss, Christoph Waltz, and Kate Winslet to round everything out. With many of these actors either Academy Award nominees or winners, this ensemble alone should get you excited.

Beyond the cast, Anderson brings back many of his usual crew to assemble the rest of “The French Dispatch” elements. Editor Andrew Weisblum is back for his fifth outing with Anderson while its cinematographer Robert Yeoman’s eighth. Adam Stockhausen looks to grab Oscar number two for production design after winning his first for “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Veteran costume designer Milena Canonero aims for her tenth nomination and fifth win. And of course, frequent collaborator Alexandre Desplat is composing the score. With this crew’s track record and Anderson’s attention to detail, it’s hard to believe their work won’t be stellar.

Overall, this has everything you would want out of Wes Anderson’s vehicle and then some. If he can pull everything off like before, then he should have everything he needs to win his first Oscar and more.

POTENTIAL CHALLENGES

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While generic plot details for “The French Dispatch” have been released, there is still little information on what will happen on screen. Based on the newly released trailer, it seems Anderson is going to be making more of an anthology film than a straight narrative feature. The tease also shows different aspect ratios and changes from technicolor to black and white photography. As bold as it may sound, it could be jarring for some viewers, leading to divided audience reactions. Typically, the more accessible Anderson’s projects have been, the more nominations they have received.

Another problem could be the release date. It’s scheduled to release on July 24, 2020, right around the same time Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” did back in 2012. This date could be a blessing or a curse, considering his films typically come out early in the year. The early release only landed “Kingdom” and “Isle of Dogs” single nominations. But it didn’t affect “Grand Budapest,” as it received nine nominations and four wins come Oscar night.

“The French Dispatch” has the potential to get lost in the crowd, especially when the fall releases start trickling in. But considering one film from early in the year usually makes it into the Oscar field, the smart money would be to bet on Anderson’s epic.

POTENTIAL AWARD CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

Motion Picture (Wes Anderson, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson)
Director (Wes Anderson)
Actor in a Supporting Role (Bill Murray, Jeffery Wright, Timothée Chalamet, Adrian Brody, Owen Wilson)
Actress in a Supporting Role (Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Lyna Khoudri, Léa Seydoux)
Original Screenplay (Anderson, Schwartzman, Coppola, Guinness)
Production Design (Bob Shaw, Regina Graves)
Cinematography (Robert D. Yeoman)
Costume Design (Milena Canonero)
Film Editing (Andrew Weisblum)
Makeup and Hairstyling (To be announced)
Sound Design (To be announced)
Original Score (Alexandre Desplat)

POTENTIAL KEY NOTICES FROM OTHER GROUPS

  • Best Performance by a Cast Ensemble (SAG Awards): With a star-studded cast this big, it would be shocking if it didn’t land this nomination.
  • Best Motion Picture, Comedy (Golden Globes): While the HFPA hasn’t given him much love before, Wes Anderson showed strength here “The Grand Budapest Hotel” in 2014. This nomination could be the spark kicking off a strong awards season run.
  • Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures (PGA): Wes Anderson’s last two live-action films were nominated for this prize. 

Are you excited or skeptical about Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch?” Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!