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: Courtney Hunt
Writer: Nicholas Kazan
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Renee Zellweger, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, James Belushi
Synopsis: A defense attorney works to get his teenage client acquitted of murdering his wealthy father.
Why It Might Succeed:
Courtney Hunt may only have one feature film to her credit so far, but considering that film was “Frozen River” and it helped revive Melissa Leo’s career, she definitely brings some expectations with her latest effort, “The Whole Truth.” The courtroom drama could very well follow a similar path during the awards season and if so, could find itself among the films being honored come Oscar night.
Looking to duplicate the kind of boost Leo got from working with Hunt will be Keanu Reeves and Renée Zellweger. Reeves had a mini-comeback last year with the revenge thriller “John Wick,” but this would be an opportunity for him to prove himself still as a capable leading man in a full-blown drama. Just to kick the wheels on it, Matthew McConaughey started his own comeback with a courtroom drama, “The Lincoln Lawyer.” For Zellweger, it’s an opportunity to prove her relevance again. Since she won her Oscar in 2003 she has been making bigger headlines for her new look than her acting roles.
Perhaps more exciting than either of those veterans is the continuing rising star of Gugu Mbatha-Raw. After a stellar 2014, Mbatha-Raw looks to build her résumé and this could be a strong opportunity to do just that.
Should the film be up to snuff, it will likely feature prominently on the indie awards circuit, which will raise its awareness for the Oscar voters. An early win at Gotham or a nice snag of Spirit Award nominations can be just the kick-start a film needs to really get an Oscar campaign going.
Why It Might Fail:
Courtroom dramas have gone the way of the western with the academy. You’d have to go back to “Erin Brockovich” to find one that really made any impact on them. The Academy definitely goes through phases of what type of movies they like to honor, and currently courtroom dramas like “The Whole Truth” are being ignored more often than celebrated.
You also have to wonder how much rust Hunt and screenwriter Nicolas Kazan may have built up since they last made films. Hunt directed “Frozen River” in 2008, since then she has just directed a couple of episodes of “In Treatment” and “Law & Order.” Part of that speaks to just how ridiculous it is for female filmmakers to get consistent work in Hollywood, but even so, seven years between films is quite a long time. Kazan’s gap in work may technically be shorter, he wrote a script for a little seen indie film in 2013, but before that he hadn’t wrote a script since 2002’s “Enough.”
We don’t even know if we’re going to get “The Whole Truth” in 2015. According to IMDB, the film is currently in post-production and is also currently without a distributor. It will probably need to line one up at one of the film festivals in the fall. Even so, unless the film blows audiences away and can make an immediate play for Best Picture or for one of the actors, the distributor could feel perfectly content to sit on it until sometime in 2016.
There are two films to look at to really get an idea of what the chances are for “The Whole Truth.” First is “The Judge,” Robert Downey Jr.’s courtroom drama landed with a bit of a thud, only managing to pull off a Best Supporting Actor nod for Robert Duvall. Then there’s “Still Alice;” few people knew about this film before in premiered at Toronto, but the reaction and the immediate push that this could be Julianne Moore’s Oscar role gave Sony Classics the green light to get it out in time for the Oscars. “The Whole Truth” could be somewhere in the middle of those two films, and find itself with a possible Oscar nomination, or two, worthy of a push, but I’d be surprise at much else.
Best Original Screenplay
Best Actor (Reeves)
Best Actress (Zellweger)
Best Supporting Actress (Mbatha-Raw)
CHECK OUT THE OFFICIAL OSCAR PREDICTIONS:
PICTURE | DIRECTOR | LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS |SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE |PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING |MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS | ORIGINAL SCORE |ORIGINAL SONG | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | FOREIGN LANGUAGE | LIVE ACTION SHORT |ANIMATED SHORT |DOCUMENTARY SHORT