SXSW buzz makes “Trainwreck” a comedy to watch out for

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Yesterday evening, folks at South By Southwest (or SXSW) got to see an early glimpse at Trainwreck, the new film from A-list comedy director Judd Apatow. Penned by and starring Amy Schumer, the pairing of those minds held tons of potential, so I was waiting with baited breath to hear how the work in progress screening was received. Well, the first notices for the movie are all exceptionally good, making this a potential huge hit in the making. Not only that, we might now be in a position to start vaguely wondering if it has a chance to follow in the footsteps of Bridesmaids and gun for a few awards notices.

In case you don’t know anything about this film, Trainwreck is a romantic comedy set in New York City. Amy (played by Schumer) is a modern single woman living a happy life, free of romantic attachments beyond a single night. Her father (Colin Quinn( engrained it in her and her sister (Brie Larson) at a young age, though only Amy has held on to it through adulthood. It works great for her until a doctor (played by Bill Hader) begins getting past her defenses. Hilarity and romance ensue. As mentioned above, Apatow directs while Schumer writes, with the supporting cast also including Tilda Swinton and believe it or not, an apparently excellent LeBron James.

At SXSW, audiences were treated to a work in progress cut that it seems everyone fell in love with. As such, we can actually begin to speculate a bit about this one in terms of the O word…Oscar. When I wrote about Trainwreck a month or so ago, I thought it was probably a longer shot than most of Apatow’s features, but with reviews likely be as strong as he’s ever received, there is the possibility that this could be his Bridesmaids. Essentially, it contends all season long before the Academy hopefully throw it a bone at the end of the day.

Where could it show up? Well, assuming the buzz remains the same, we’re probably looking at Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay (for Schumer) as the only two categories with a real chance. Best Actress (for Schumer as well) is probably a long shot, while Best Director (for Apatow) is probably a pipe dream. Honestly, Best Picture isn’t amazingly likely either, especially when Bridesmaids came up short, so this really could be Best Original Screenplay or bust for Trainwreck. That doesn’t put it in a great place, but if it’s a moneymaker like everyone thinks it’ll be, that could even things out a bit. It’s not meant for Oscar, essentially, so anything would be a bonus.

As a bit of a positive note in regards to the Academy and its chances, I do want to remind everyone that Bridesmaids did wind up with an acting nomination (Melissa McCarthy in Supporting Actress) in addition to Original Screenplay, so that has always led me to believe that it was only one or two slots away in Picture. Throw in how the Oscar citation in the screenplay category was pretty solidly meant to honor Kristen Wiig, who starred and co-wrote the screenplay, and there’s an interesting parallel there between Wiig and Schumer. Just remember this one other thing as well, technically a comedy just won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay in Birdman…

In the end, it’s still super early on and much too far in advance to truly be able to predict what happens with Trainwreck. More likely than not, it’ll be a box office and critical success that doesn’t translate to Oscar, but there’s definitely a chance that it manages to at least be in the running for an Academy Award nomination or two. We’ll find out about that first part during the summer when the movie opens in July, but this sneak at SXSW certainly has Trainwreck moving in the right direction. If nothing else, I can’t wait to see this film.

Stay tuned to see how Trainwreck does once it opens!

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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