Awards Profile: The Walk

Philippe Petit’s story already has an Oscar track record…


Welcome to the 2015 Awards Profiles series.  For the next two months, every day (except for Saturday), we will bring you a run down of a future 2015 film that we see as a potential awards vehicle for next year’s Academy Awards.  This is all speculative since with just about all these films, we haven’t seen a frame yet.  Nonetheless, we venture on.  If you miss a film, then click on the tag “2015 Awards Profile.”

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Writers:Robert Zemeckis, Christopher Browne

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, James Badge Dale, Ben Schwartz

Synopsis: The story of French high-wire artists Philippe Petit’s attempt to cross the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974

Why It Might Succeed:

The story of French high-wire artist Philippe Petit already has a track record with the Academy, with “Man on Wire” winning Best Documentary in 2009. This bodes well for “The Walk” as it already proves that Petit’s story of how he prepared and performed his high-wire walk between the World Trade Center towers, which in the doc was part crime-thriller, part inspirational story, is something the Academy will go for.

The proverbial icing on the cake is what director Robert Zemeckis intends to do with it. Shooting the film in IMAX 3D, “The Walk” has the potential to be this year’s equivalent to “Gravity” or “Life of Pi” — a must-see theater event.

That isn’t just fluff, either. Zemeckis is coming off his biggest critical hit since “Cast Away” in “Flight,” which earned Oscar nominations for star Denzel Washington and writer John Gatins. Personally, Zemeckis hasn’t been nominated by the Academy since he won Best Picture and Best Director in 1994 for “Forrest Gump,” but if “The Walk” lives up to the billing of the aforementioned “Gravity” or “Life of Pi,” he and the film could be major players in both races.

B4az8d5CEAAPbph“The Walk” also may get a boost from its leading man, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The “(500) Days of Summer” star has yet to be nominated by the Academy but between this and “Snowden” from Oliver Stone, where Gordon-Levitt will play the infamous whistle-blower, his time may be rapidly approaching. Should that be the case, it could be part of a wave of support for the overall film.

Why It Might Fail:

There’s a double-edge sword to all of the things that make “The Walk” a major Oscar player. First, having two movies could actually be deterrence for Gordon-Levitt. If he is strong in both movies it could lead to a split amongst voters over which one they prefer, or if they like one movie more they could be more inclined to reward him for that one than the other despite which one holds the better performance. It’s always great to have multiple movies in a year when you’re gunning for an Oscar, but if the other one is also vying for the gold, it could cause some problems.

For Zemeckis, yes, he is coming off what is regarded as his best film in over a decade, but since “Gump” he’s been inconsistent, and most of the 2000s saw him experimenting with motion-capture animation with mixed success. This is his most ambitious project in quite some time, and we know from his track record that he has the skill for it, but the cache of a Robert Zemeckis film has worn off a little.

Then there’s the fact that the story has already won an Oscar. The Academy has nominated remakes of previous Oscar winners before, the Coen brother “True Grit” the most recent example, but few have ever repeated as winners. There may be complacency with the Academy that they’ve been there and done that already.

Awards Speculation:

01_EW_TheWalk-141224With all that being said, I think “The Walk” has a very good chance to be in the mix throughout next Oscar season. Its October release date is prime position that makes perfect sense for a premiere at one of the major fall film festivals, Toronto or Telluride most likely, and it has the potential to be a hit through many different branches of the Academy. This is one to keep an eye on.

Oscar Potential:
Best Picture
Best Director
Best Actor
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Cinematography
Best Visual Effects
Best Film Editing
Best Score

What do you think?

Written by Michael Balderston

NoVA native who has returned to the Washington D.C. area after two years in L.A. My biggest annoyance since leaving L.A. is not having immediate access to indie films on their first weekend, but I'm making due. When I'm not tracking the year's Oscar players or exploring film history, I'm rooting for my Philadelphia sports teams.


Leave a Reply

    Awards Circuit Book Nook for March 2015

    Academy Award® Nominee Jessica Chastain Stars In Miss Julie Arriving on DVD, Digital HD and On Demand May 5 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment