What Awards Can DRIVE Actually Win?

     December 17, 2011


Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve taken a look at the awards prospects of The Muppets and Bridesmaids; two films that, while critically and commercially successful, aren’t necessarily your typical awards season fare. Today we thought we’d consider the awards status of another impressive film from 2011: Drive. Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s violent genre pic premiered as a little independent film at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. The movie blew audiences away, and Refn nabbed the Best Director prize.

The film finally opened to general audiences this past September with plenty of advanced buzz and stellar reviews. While Drive didn’t exactly break box office records, critics and cinephiles fell in love with the peculiar drama, and now the film is headed into a very crowded awards stretch. Hit the jump to see our take on how Drive will fare during this year’s awards season.

Albert-Brooks-Drive-movie-imageWith regards to the Oscars, it seems like Drive has one nomination almost on lock: Albert Brooks for Best Supporting Actor. The writer-director had been absent from the big screen for almost six years and his return was almost unrecognizable. Brooks’ inherent sense of levity lulls the audience into thinking he’s a relatively tame villain, but the character’s explosions of violence give us a glimpse at the monster underneath. It’s a bone-chilling performance, and Brooks is positively superb.

Justly, Brooks started picking up awards recognition pretty early on. He’s already nabbed the Best Supporting Actor prize from the New York Film Critics, San Francisco Film Critics, Boston Film Critics, and New York Film Critics Online. Furthermore, he’s landed a nomination in the category from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Independent Spirit Awards, and most recently the Golden Globes. His inexplicable snub by the Screen Actors Guild (who loaded up on the snubs this year) took many by surprise, but his recent Globe nomination solidifies his frontrunner status heading into the Academy Awards. Furthermore, he’s the favorite to take home the Best Supporting Actor trophy at the Golden Globes as well.

As for the film itself, Drive is certainly worthy of a Best Picture nomination but the nod is becoming less likely by the day. So far the only major organizations to recognize Drive as one of the best pictures of the year have been the National Board of Review, the Broadcast Film Critics Association, and the Independent Spirit Awards. While those are definitely worth being proud of, the film is gonna have to pick up a considerable amount of steam in order to land among the Academy’s best films of the year.

Ryan-Gosling-Drive-movie-imageWorking against Drive’s chances for a Best Picture nomination are its less than stellar box office performance and the fact that it’s essentially a genre picture. The Academy doesn’t normally respond to “strange” ultra-violent pics (unless they’re directed by Martin Scorsese), and Refn’s masterwork is essentially a bloody, dialogue-light John Hughes movie; that’s what makes it great, and that’s why the Academy will more than likely leave it off their shortlist of the “best” films of 2011.

The low box office numbers for Drive don’t help it’s chances either. The Departed was a bona fide commercial hit and became Scorsese’s most successful film to date. Even the Coen brothers’ relatively violent No Country for Old Men took in over $150 million. While Drive’s $67 million take is nothing to balk at (especially given the film’s meager budget), it’s not exactly noteworthy to Oscar voters. While it’s not unheard of for low-grossing films to be nominated for Best Picture (The Hurt Locker is the lowest-grossing winner to date at just under $50 million), Drive’s mediocre box office draw combined with its absence on many critics’ year-end lists doesn’t inspire much confidence.

Carey-Mulligan-Drive-movie-imageThe film also stands a chance at a Best Original Score nomination for Cliff Martinez’s fantastically synth-infused score, but the Academy is notoriously nitpicky when it comes to eligibility so I’m not 100% sure if Martinez’s work will make the cut. I don’t know enough about the category to say whether or not the Drive score meets the Academy’s qualifications, but it’s definitely worthy of a nod.

Overall, it looks like Drive’s best shot at the Oscars is Albert Brooks. He’s righteously earning recognition for his brilliantly nasty performance, and we should expect to hear his name called once the nominations are announced. With 9 wins so far in his category (tied for the most wins in the Awards race so far with The Artist) Brooks is currently the frontrunner to take home the trophy. We’re still a little ways off from the ceremony so things could certainly change, but I’m hoping he pulls the win come Oscar night not only because he deserves it, but also because he’s sure to deliver one of the more entertaining acceptance speeches. While Drive may end up being deemed too “genre”, “weird”, or “violent” for the Academy’s taste, a lack of major Oscar nominations will in no way demean the quality of the film. Refn crafted a masterfully dramatic (and cool) film jam-packed with extraordinary performances, and Drive is sure to stand the test of time as a movie that won’t soon be forgotten.

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  • felliniboy

    honestly, i know awards is a matter of favoritism. but for me, Cinematography, Editing, Sound work, are all topnotch(script is questionable). with these aspects, you can conclude that Refn deserves an academy award nomination for Directing. Refn is the real star.

    • john

      I think Drive had some great crafts work as well. It’s my personal favorite sound mix of the year and I hope it gets nominated. I don’t see it getting in for cinematography, but I do think film editing is a possibility.

  • Strong Enough

    what awards Adam? ALL OF EM B*TCH!


  • john

    I agree with Adam – Albert Brooks is the best chance at a nomination. But, I do think there is an outside shot for Best Picture and Best Director.

    Also, I would love to see Ryan Gosling nominated for something (though he was better in The Ides of March).

  • whatever

    Most overrated (hipster) movie of the year. Gosling is clearly the coolest lead in the business these days, no question, but this wasn’t brilliant film making. Gosling needs a movie like Fight Club or a Se7en; something cool and daring that holds up over time. In other words, what he needs is to partner up with a rising star director (like Fincher with Pitt). Refn is fine, but he isn’t a genius and his brooding underworld stories will prove forgettable in the long run.

    • Sometimes my arms bend back

      “Gosling needs a movie like Fight Club or a Se7en; something cool and daring that holds up over time.”

      “In other words, what he needs is to partner up with a rising star director (like Fincher with Pitt).”

      Umm sorry, but you do realise that you’ve just basically just described both Drive and it’s director, Nicolas Winding Refn!

      If Nicolas Winding Refn isn’t a rising star director then I really don’t know who is. Refn has just come off of directing one of the the most talked about movies of the year, he also previously captured one of Tom Hardy’s best performances on film with ‘Bronson’.

      Refn’s star is on the rise, and like Fincher he seems to be able to capture career making performances.

      Gosling made EXACTLY the right choice by appearing in Drive.

    • Muahahaha

      Agreed. I saw it last night and this movie was terrible. It’s mish-mosh of themes that never cohesively mix. Oh and Gossling clearly studied at the Daniel Craig School of Acting — I don’t think he strung more than two lines together in any scene.

  • ML

    Masterful movie making – absolutely loved it!
    Character driven, haunting, very stylish, sophisticated, superb acting, all the things I want from a good movie. Refn definitely deserves a nomination, as does Gosling and Brooks.

    • yodasballsack

      Sorry but “masterful” is going a bit too far. The script was actually terrible. And it is shocklng that Brooks is getting so much awards buzz. It is not his fault as an actor but more the fault of terrible writing. I am happy to see the film get so much recognition as it is a great attempt at a good movie. But all in all the godly praise for this flick has been laid on way too thick for what it deserves.

  • rob

    drive cannot win anything. They ruined a awesome movie when the sound of the car speeding down the street didn’t match the actual speed.
    In a movie called Drive that’s unforgivable.

    • Muahahaha

      Which scene was that? There were only two scenes that actually had Gossling speeding — and they probably totaled a mere minute between them.

  • henri

    Favourite movie of last year for me.

  • janko

    This film deserves AT LEAST an award for the music. The soundtrack for this movie is insane.

  • hugo

    The “Pretentious movie that is just as good as any Statham vehicle but with more silence between dialog” Award!

  • hugo

    The “Pretentious movie that is just as good as any Statham vehicle only with more silence between dialogs” Award!

  • Oui

    It’s a good movie but not great. People are liking the movie because it’s refreshing to see the director successfully bring back the 80′s mysterious atmosphere back to the modern screen. But the story is just not that great.

  • Eric

    “Agreed. I saw it last night and this movie was terrible. It’s mish-mosh of themes that never cohesively mix. Oh and Gossling clearly studied at the Daniel Craig School of Acting — I don’t think he strung more than two lines together in any scene.”

    I really can’t tell when people are trolling when they say things like this. An actor’s job is not to write the script of the movie. What RG said in the movie is not up to him. It was HIS job to control HOW he said his lines and how he filled the spaces between the sparse bits of dialogue. IMO, Gosling is the only person who could have brought that much intensity to that many pregnant pauses.

  • Nuno

    Just saw now Drive and i have to say, has the world gone crazy?
    this is one of the most inspiring movies of 2011, at least cannes festival gave this movie the right credit.
    It´s amazing how all this crap golden globes or oscars are for mainstream and vulgar people that don´t really understand nothing about art.
    This movie is pure art, and after so many years of bad movies, i have to say this movie makes me thing that there is a light in this very dark commercial and empty of ideas business.
    the soundtrack, the directing, the timing of the dialogues….perfect….
    the rest of the world is just too numb and vulgar to understand it.

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  • Jinxsy

    How amazing, people have different opinions.