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“The Fault in Our Stars” – Shailene Woodley: Awards Race

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Directed by: Josh Boone
Written by: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (based on the novel by John Green)
Main Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Willem Dafoe, Mike Birbiglia, and others…
Past Oscar relations: Willem Dafoe is a two time Best Supporting Actor nominee, for Platoon and Shadow of the Vampire

Here now we have a brand new article in this series of mine on 2015 contenders hoping to compete for some sort of Oscar attention at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for us here is Josh Boone’s hotly anticipated adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars, which looks to satisfy a legion of die hard fans and potentially branch out from there, amassing a cinematic following along the way.

This is Boone’s sophomore feature (after the very strong debut Stuck in Love), and he’s working for the first time with top notch scribes Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (who I praised heartily a few days ago here). They’re all adapting the smash hit novel of the same name by John Green. Rising star Shailene Woodley takes the lead role, while the second lead goes to up and comer Ansel Elgort. Supporting players include Willem Dafoe, Laura Dern, and Nat Wolff in this romantic drama about teens dealing with cancer. It could have been manipulative and rang false, like some of the lesser melodramas out there, but with a deft touch by all involved, this one turned out pretty terrifically. Now, it can look to see if Oscar glory can be in its future.

What this flick has going in its favor is just how powerful it is and the strength of the acting/writing. Woodley gives what I think might be the best performance of her career so far and the screenwriting duo of Neustadter and Weber really outdo themselves in translating this tricky material to the screen in a way that feels totally organic. Costars Dern and especially Elgort are standouts as well, but Woodley really does blow you away here. Some of her best scenes are ones I think might be up there at the end of the year for me. Boone’s direction is tender and without artifice, which only increases the effectiveness of the script. Along with a soundtrack that’s among the best of 2014 so far, there’s tons to draw in a curious voter. If members of the Academy give it a shot, I wouldn’t count Woodley out of Best Actress contention.

Working against The Fault in Our Stars is that its audience will likely skew younger than most Oscar players. Something cool and hip like Her last year making a splash is relatively rare, so that doesn’t work in this film’s favor, sadly. Voters will have to assume that this isn’t just another YA (Young Adult) adaptation in order to give it a chance. Considering the fact that they basically ignored The Spectacular Now last year (also starring Woodley and adapted by Neustadter and Weber), that makes this an uphill battle to say the least here.

So, can this be a player at all? I’d say that in all likelihood it’s going to struggle to catch on, but if it does, Woodley could make a decent case for a Best Actress nomination and the screenwriting duo of Neustadter and Weber could finally be citing in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. The Fault in Our Stars deserves consideration at least, that much is for sure. Regardless of if the Academy gives it a chance, you all should this weekend. You’ll be glad that you did…

Grade: Possible Contender (mainly for Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay)

Stay tuned for another one of these profiles coming your way next week!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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