The consensus that 2014 had been, relatively speaking, a weak year will not be repeated in 2015. Entertainment Weekly‘s 2015 preview barely has a clue, but the coming year, above and beyond of the locust plague of franchise films, will be good in terms of quality-level, Hollywood Elsewhere-supported fare. Over the last 24 hours I’ve done a bit more research and am now looking at what will almost certainly be the top Best Picture candidates 12 months from now. You almost don’t need to see them to “know.” All you need are the basic elements — filmmakers, budget, story, theme — and the aroma. I don’t know very much but nine…okay, eight times out of ten my instincts are correct. And they’re telling me that Steve Jobs, Truth, St. James Place, The Walk and Collision are probably going to be at the top of the heap after it all shakes out.
What do I actually know about these films? Next to nothing, but I have a pretty good nose for this stuff. The more comments, the better. This needs to be kicked around.
The likely seven finalists are (1) Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin‘s Steve Jobs (nearly three hours of back-stage tech talk with Michael Fassbinder as Jobs with filming to begin next month); (2) James Vanderbilt‘s Truth (the Dan Rather career meltdown story caused by a story about George Bush‘s National Guard service in the ’70s, based on the 2005 memoir “Truth and Duty” by Mary Mapes); (3)Alejandro G. Inarritu‘s The Revenant, a rugged survival melodrama with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy; (4) Steven Spielberg‘s St. James Place, a cold-war drama about attorney James Donovan (Tom Hanks) on a mission to negotiate the release of Francis Gary Powers, a pilot whose plane was shot down in the Soviet Union Tom Hanks,costarring Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, Alan Alda; (5) Jean-Marc Vallee‘s Demolition, a romantic drama with Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper; (6) Warren Beatty‘s Hughes a.k.a. Untitled Warren Beatty Project with Beatty, Alden Ehrenreich, Lily Collins, Matthew Broderick, Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen and Candice Bergen costarring; and (7) Robert Zemeckis‘s The Walk, a dramatic re-telling of French tightrope walker Philipe Petit‘s 1974 high-wire stroll between the twin World Trade Center towers, which was made into Man on Wire, James Marsh‘s 2008 Oscar-winning documentary.
What am I overlooking? I know zip about Beatty’s Howard Hughes project and am therefore suspicious, but the other six definitely have the sound and the pedigree and those Oscar-contending fumes.
I’ve asked around about the timing of Martin Scorsese‘s Silence. If Scorsese were shooting by February, he could theoretically have it ready to show by year’s end. But for now it’s a wait-and-see.
There’s also David Gordon Green‘s Our Brand Is Crisis (Warner Bros.) with Sandra Bullock, Scoot McNairy, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie and Ann Dowd. But Green does smallish, indie-flavor stuff, right? He’s a good filmmaker but not a power-hitter and certainly not an award-season player. Not his style.
Baltasar Kormákur‘s Everest (Universal), a mountain-scaling adventure tragedy, will probably emerge as a kind of Perfect Storm-type film — they died with their climbing boots on. Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke, John Hawkes, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Robin Wright. Stirring versimilitude, etc.
Scott Cooper‘s Black Mass (Warner Bros., 9.18.15) is a crime melodrama about the infamous Bosotn gang boss Whitey Bulger Johnny Depp. Costarring Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sienna Miller, Dakota Johnson.
Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Hail Caesar (Universal — listed as a February 2016 release but a possible late ’15 entry nonetheless) is a light-touch period thing (set around 1951) about a Hollywood studio chief coping with a kidnapped movie star. Barton Fink-ish but funnier. Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill.
Anton Corbijn‘s Life (no distributor) is based on the friendship of Life photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) and James Dean (Dane DeHaan). Costarring Ben Kingsley, Joel Edgerton.