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 Profiles.”
FILM: “Those Who Wish Me Dead”
DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros.
DIRECTOR: Taylor Sheridan
PRODUCERS: Garrett Basch, Aaron L. Gilbert, Taylor Sheridan, Kevin Turen, Steven Zaillian
WRITER(S): Taylor Sheridan and Michael Koryta, based on Koryta’s novel
CAST: Angelina Jolie, Jon Bernthal, Nicholas Hoult, Aidan Gillen, Tyler Perry, Jake Weber
SYNOPSIS: A teenage murder witness finds himself pursued by twin assassins in the Montana wilderness with a survival expert tasked with protecting him — and a forest fire threatening to consume them all. (IMDB)
SCHEDULED RELEASE: October 23, 2020
Taylor Sheridan has quickly emerged as a big time voice in cinema. His theatrical credits include the scripts for “Hell or High Water” (which scored him an Oscar nomination), “Sicario,” and “Wind River” (which he also directed) has put him on the storytelling map. On the small screen, he’s also created the well regarded show “Yellowstone”. Now, he returns to the director’s chair with “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” an adaptation of Michael Koryta‘s novel. Janet Maslin of The New York Times had this praise for the book: “a lean, propulsive action-adventure thriller with a raging forest fire as its backdrop and with much more finesse than that description might suggest.” That does seem to suggest that Sheridan is again planning a very unique take on what otherwise could be simple genre fare.
“Those Who Wish Me Dead” is a star vehicle for none other than Angelina Jolie, easily the biggest star Sheridan will have worked with, to date. Every main character that Sheridan has written (and some of his supporting ones, too) have been in play for awards love, so Jolie should be no exception. Seeing her save the day by protecting a witness to a murder should provide her with not just a plum part, but some killer action sequences as well.
Joining Jolie are Jon Bernthal, Aiden Gillan, Nicholas Hoult, Tyler Perry, and more. Below the line, Ben Richardson is handling cinematography, while Brian Tyler composes the score. Bernthal has been in most of Sheridan’s work, so perhaps he’s a bit of a good luck charm at this point?
Depending on how a presumed film festival bow goes, Warner Bros. could opt to give this movie a big push. A lot will hinge on how the fall festival season goes in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but this easily could debut at a place like the Toronto International Film Festival. If TIFF embraces it, anything is possible.
Just look to Sheridan’s last effort for the challenges here. “Wind River” had a Jeremy Renner performance that was largely hailed as Oscar worthy, but the Academy, as well as almost every other voting body, ignored it. He’s only received one nomination, in Best Original Screenplay for “Hell or High Water,” so he’s also been snubbed, like with “Sicario.” Despite the rocket to the top that the filmmaker has seemingly been on, he’s hardly an awards darling at this point.
“Those Who Wish Me Dead” could also just not be the kind of material that voters will gravitate towards. Jolie is not necessarily an automatic nominee, even with a strong showing. She might be getting to that status with the Academy, but she’s not there yet. So, depending on the competition, she could just seem like a more frivolous option. If more Oscar friendly performances are up against her, the odds won’t be in her favor.
Time will tell if this is merely a genre effort or not. If it is, the road here will be a tough one. If it isn’t, we’ll just have to wait and see how closely this one resembles the other Sheridan efforts that have been in contention over the years. Everyone involved is certainly hoping that it comes closer to “Hell or High Water” territory than anything else.
POTENTIAL AWARD CATEGORIES IN PLAY:
- Motion Picture (Garrett Basch, Aaron L. Gilbert, Taylor Sheridan, Kevin Turen, Steven Zaillian)
- Director (Taylor Sheridan)
- Actress in a Leading Role (Angelina Jolie)
- Actor in a Supporting Role (Jon Bernthal, Nicholas Hoult)
- Adapted Screenplay (Taylor Sheridan, Michael Koryta)
- Cinematography (Ben Richardson)
- Film Editing (Chad Galster)
- Original Score (Brian Tyler)
POTENTIAL KEY NOTICES FROM OTHER GROUPS
- Best Actress (SAG Awards): SAG might be where Angelina Jolie truly plants her flag. a nomination, or even a win, would go a long way to getting her into the Academy Award five.
- Best Adapted Screenplay (Writers Guild Awards): We could see Taylor Sheridan truly be in play to win an Oscar if he scores a win here. WGA may be tasked with separating the contenders from the pretenders, so watch out for Sheridan.