Tuesday, September 27, 2011

LAMBS In The Director’s Chair: Michael Mann

For those who don’t know, The LAMB has a series where bloggers get together each month to write reviews of a particular director’s work. Here at Never Too Early Movie Predictions, I look forward instead of backward, so I thought it might be fun to look ahead at what the director of the month has coming up on his calendar for the next several years.

This month’s director is Michael Mann. As a director, Mann has been Oscar nominated once for his directorial work in The Insider. The film earned a total of seven nominations, including Mann for Best Picture, Best Director and Adapted Screenplay, plus four more for Lead Actor Russell Crowe, Cinematography, Film Editing and Sound.

Mann was also nominated as a producer of The Aviator, which received 11 nominations and won 5 of those. Mann also directed Collateral (nominated for Film Editing and Supporting Actor for Jamie Foxx), Ali (nominated for Lead Actor Will Smith and Supporting Actor Jon Voight), and The Last Of The Mohicans (which won best Sound.)

So it is not too much of a stretch for an Oscar prediction blog to look at what the Mann (pun intended) might have coming up:

Mann’s current project is Luck, an upcoming HBO series involving characters at a horse racing track. It will star Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte. Do I smell an Emmy in the future?

As a producer, Mann is listed for Texas Killing Fields (2011), a crime drama which is being directed by his daughter, Ami Canaan Mann, and features Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Chloe Moretz and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. I’m not currently predicting this for any Oscar love, but perhaps Ami Canaan Mann will surprise us?

Damage Control will be a sports drama that stars Jamie Foxx as an agent trying to give his troubled players a positive image. After his work in Any Given Sunday, Foxx should know something about that. Foxx received a nomination the last time he worked with Mann in Collateral, but it was the same year as his win for Ray, so it’s hard to know whether they will repeat.

Waiting for Robert Capa. Set during the Spanish Civil war, this film follows the romance of war photographers Robert Capa and Gerda Taro. The film is based upon the book by Susana Fortes and Gemma Arterton is attached. Epic love stories, set during war, based on real characters. It definitely has award possibilities.

Death Of A Dissident is a spy thriller which looks at the life of Russian KJB agent Alexander Litvinenko, and explores the change in power structure that occurred as the Soviet KBG was converted to the Russian FSB. The book that the film is based upon was written by Alex Goldfarb and Litvinenko’s widow, Marina Litvinenko. I’m thinking that this could become just another spy thriller, but if it really delves deeply into systems changes and power structures, there could be some possibilities.

An Untitled 1930’s Noir Project being written by John Logan and starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a private detective on an old MGM lot hired to investigate whether a starlet murdered her husband. We should never discount DiCaprio (especially since I’m predicting that he will have won for J. Edgar by this time), plus there could be some art direction and costume nominations here.

Big Tuna follows Tony Accardo as an elderly Chicago mobster preparing his successor Sam Giancana. Sheldon Turner is writing the script for the biopic. The academy didn’t take to Public Enemies, but perhaps Mann has something new up his sleeve?

Gold, depending upon which synopsis you believe, is a contemporary thriller about the search for precious metals and/or a look at the biggest securities exchange fraud committed in the United States. Based on a script from Patrick Massett and John Zinman, the film is being produced with Paul Haggis and Michael Nozik. Could this do for economics what The Insider did for big tobacco?

Agincourt, based on the novel by Bernard Cornwell, follows a fugitive archer during one of the most famous battles of Europe. The screenplay is being written by Michael Hirst. I would expect many nominations for Art Direction, Cinematography and Costumes here, along with epic battle scenes.

Batam is rumored to also be on the horizon, but I haven’t been able to find out much about this film, which presumably is set on the island in Indonesia.

Frankie Machine, based on the book by Don Winslow, was rumored to star Robert DeNiro as a retired mob hitman, but there has been no news about it for several years, so it may not happen.

So readers, do you think that any of these films have what it takes to make it into future Oscar races? Let me know in the comments!

Read what my fellow LAMBS have written about Michael Mann HERE.
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  1. "An Untitled 1930’s Noir Project".....this one. This is the one I so desperately want Michael Mann to do next.

  2. Thanks Nick! IMDB currently lists it as a 2013 possibility, and it certainly seems right up Mann's alley.