September 27, 2016

Oscars®: Draft Day – What’s up with the 2015 Awards Race

draft day kevin costner 600x347
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Written by: Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman
Main Cast: Kevin Costner, Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Garner, Frank Langella, Denis Leary, Tom Welling, and many others
Past Oscar relations: Ivan Reitman was nominated for co-producing Up in the Air and Kevin Costner won Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for Dances with Wolves

Here now we have the next article in this series on 2014 contenders hoping to compete for Oscar attention at the 2015 ceremony. Next up is Ivan Reitman’s Draft Day, which hopes to essentially be the next Moneyball, just with the NFL Draft as its focus. That film was a bit of an aberration, but this one has a bit in common with it, so perhaps the Academy is more open to sports movies than they have been in the past? Reitman has sports film icon Kevin Costner in the lead role, so that’s certainly a plus, along with a strong ensemble that includes Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Garner, Frank Langella, and Denis Leary, to name a few. They’re in the service of a fine film, one of the better ones to come out this year so far, in my humble opinion. Being a quality bit of cinema is the first step towards becoming a contender.

What this flick has going in its favor is a crowd pleasing plot and a top notch script, not to mention a great role for Costner to sink his teeth into. Costner always is great in sports films, and this is no exception. Reitman also shows an able hand at drama, something he’s rarely attempted during his illustrious career. As for the screenplay, Black List winning scribes Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman have crafted something that both hardcore football fans like myself and newbies can enjoy equally. Moneyball was able to do this, and that screenplay damn near won an Oscar, so especially in the writing field, this movie should have a chance to contend for a nomination.

Working against Draft Day is that it is a sports movie without an awards centric pedigree. Yes, it has a Black List winning script, but that doesn’t always make a huge difference. Costner also has never been nominated for one of his sports outings, so it’s likely that he won’t break that trend here. That makes it Best Original Screenplay or nada in all likelihood, and having that narrow a focus makes it a dicey proposition. Draft Day will need to make some solid money to hold on through the year, and sports movies are hit and miss at the box office. We’ll see though.

So, can this be a player at all? I’d say that it’s possible, though closer to a long shot than a likely nominee. I’d be kind of shocked if it did too much during the awards season, but weirder things have happened, and the Best Original Screenplay category could wind up working out for this one. The flick will have a bit of an uphill battle bringing in non sports fans, but Moneyball did it and Draft Day deserves to get a chance. The Academy will more likely ignore it than embrace it, but if nothing else, you should give it a look…

Grade: Possible Contender (likely for Best Original Screenplay or bust)

Stay tuned for another one of these next week!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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