As the buzz continues to build for Peter Berg’s war film Lone Survivor, Universal Pictures is beginning to capitalize and may be in store for a surprise Best Picture inclusion if things begin to pan out.
Mark Wahlberg stars in the film, where he also produces, as Marcus Luttrell, the lone survivor of a doomed mission in June 2005 in which many of his fellow soldiers were killed attempting to take down Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd. Tugging very heavy on the heart-strings, Berg completely redeems his previous directorial efforts with a well-documented and detailed account of the doomed mission.
While comparisons have sprung up to Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down, Berg’s effort is right on par with the Oscar-nominated film for Best Director. Could Berg sneak into a director lineup? He has more hope in an Adapted Screenplay lineup but the film itself will certainly be in contention for both Sound categories, Editing, and even Cinematography. On the acting front, there’s no real consensus on who is best in show. Wahlberg doesn’t have the heft to carry him into an already crowded Best Actor field, and to be honest, it’s not one of his more impressive turns. I was very taken by the work of Taylor Kitsch, who’s been plagued in the same way as Peter Berg. Box office flops have had his name written on the posters such as John Carter and Battleship, but as Mike Murphy, he completely owns the role.
Emile Hirsch has struggled in some roles over the years while excelling in others. I’ll always have him near and dear to my heart for what he brought to Sean Penn’s Into the Wild and there are many that applaud his work in Milk. He’s right back to where he needs to be, offering up a performance similar to Giovanni Ribisi and Jeremy Davies in Saving Private Ryan. After a poor showing earlier this year with Prince Avalanche, this will give him more stability to seek out more dynamic and challenging roles for himself.
Ben Foster just continues to embark on an acting journey that is both endearing and extraordinary. The 33-year-old actor has already charmed the pants off of many in films like 3:10 to Yuma and The Messenger. Earlier this year, he was getting a push by IFC Films for what was the best thing about Ain’t Them Bodies Saints opposite Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. And in Berg’s Lone Survivor, he produces one of his best efforts yet. In an unsure Supporting Actor field, where no true frontrunner has emerged, there’s wiggle room for an actor such as Foster to find his way into the mix.
Those things are just on the surface. Sound Mixing and Sound Editing are strong possibilities. In a 33-minute gun fight in which you hear bones breaking and rocks falling, it’s one of the things the staples itself in your memory. Cinematographer Tobias Schliessler has a handle on many areas of the film, that adds to the picture’s overall success. Focusing essentially on two large set pieces, Schliessler goes in depth with the area surrounding the story and capturing beautiful imagery. Editing and perhaps even Makeup could fall in place as well.
The film will be one of the very last things that voters will see this year which could work in its favor. Films like Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and Django Unchained were among the final viewings of their respective years and found their way into a Best Picture lineup. If the major guilds rally around Survivor and it begins to pop up with the Editors, ASC, and perhaps a PGA mention, we may see it happen for the Universal release.
Don’t be surprised if in the next round of Oscar Predictions you find Berg’s film listed among the top ten contenders. The film is already hitting the ground running and the campaign is in full effect.
Check out the Featurette down below, titled “Look Inside”
Lone Survivor – LOOK INSIDE: