‘Lone Survivor’ Bursts Into Awards Race

lone survivor Emmett/Furla

And the hits just keep on comin’….

The already crowded best-pic race got another contender as Universal screened “Lone Survivor” to the industry Wednesday night at the TV Academy in North Hollywood. The work of writer-director Peter Berg, the actors and below the line contributors immediately enter the kudos conversation.

“We wanted to make this as raw and guerrilla film style as possible,” Mark Wahlberg said at the post-screening Q&A.

Also on hand for the Academy screening were Berg, Wahlberg, star Taylor Kitsch and real-life Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, who received a standing ovation at the gala.

“This story has happened over and over,” Berg said of the Afghanistan war drama. “These are remarkable men of extraordinary character.”

Universal’s action-packed pic is based on Luttrell’s book “Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10.”

Awards strengths: It’s a contender in multiple categories. The studio’s timing is right; the pic arrives with little advance fanfare, which maximizes its impact. And while it will play best on the bigscreen, the film should work well on screeners, which is a big advantage.

Awards challenges: The title indicates that the ending is not going to be a lot of laughs. And it follows recent military-procedure films like “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” So voters need to be reminded that this is not something they’ve seen before.

Every awards contender benefits from a solid backstory, and this one is good: Berg spent years on the project, soaking up mood and anecdotes from Marcus Luttrell (played by Wahlberg) and the families of his fellow Navy SEALs. As a bonus, Berg (proving he’s a real filmmaker) and Kitsch (proving he’s a real actor) can put “Battleship” behind them.

The acting ensemble is strong and BTL work is notable, including cinematography, editing, sound and makeup.

The film has likable protagonists, and the Taliban make formidable villains. The film also smartly makes a clear distinction between the Taliban and the people of Afghanistan, with several positive depictions of the latter. The film has a gala screening at the AFI Fest in Hollywood on Nov. 12 and opens a limited run in L.A. and New York Dec. 27.

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  1. Rose says:

    I follow this and I can’t wait for the movie it’s sad and these men what they do for this country I’m so proud to be an American and truly can’t wait to see the movie it’s one the I will truly enjoy . But it’s going to be also so sad

  2. Mass says:

    Haven’t seen it yet, but I really cannot stand war films where there is a good vs evil kind of thing going on. The Taliban are tribal people whose land the Americans have enroached on with American military men and drones that hail a hellfire of death from above. While the Taliban does indeed do plenty of evil things, so does the USA. War is never so simple as saying good vs evil. Never that simple.

    That said I do know of this story. It’s unfortunate circumstances but I guess that is what happens when you enroach on another people’s land with the intent of taking all of its resources.

    • Just a reminder: The Taliban allowed al Queda to train in Afghanistan before we were attacked on Sept. 11th. What they did and still do to their fellow countrymen is evil. How can you dispute that? Wouldn’t you consider chopping off a woman’s head in an arena for a minor infraction evil? Or terrorizing citizens in their every day lives evil? Please spare me any cumbyas for the Taliban…

      And, what resources are you talking about? And, so what if there are resources?

      Because four decent young American SEALs made the decision to spare the lives of those goatherders that day, including a fourteen year old, my son and eighteen other men died that day so I find it insulting that you say Americans do plenty of evil things.They didn’t.

      For your information Rules of Engagement have been set in place that, in my opinion, favor our enemies and put our own American men at risk. They did this to assuage people like you and I believe it has been a deterrent to our victory. ( Oh, sorry, you probably find that concept evil- our victory, I mean. So you want the Taliban to triumph?}

      Here’s the thing about good and evil. It exists and has since the beginning of time whether you like it or not . But I would argue that judging from the history of our country we most likely have chosen the side of good. And, will continue to do so in the future.

      Natalie Healy
      Mother of Senior Chief Dan Healy
      KIA Afghanistan, June 28, 2005

  3. Robbie Goldstein says:

    I was fortunate to see the movie at the same screening. It is outstanding. The story is compelling. All the actors grab their characters and bring you along on the tragic journey. Berg combines the two with a crisp no nonsense intense battle within a war. But beyond the creative aspect of Lone Survivor is the nuts and bolts of the production itself. The work of the entire crew and the individual department heads must be mentioned and appreciated. These people worked on mountain tops as high as 10000-12000 ft. It was a moveable city that they brought with them. One just doesn’t find a replica of a mountain in Afghanistan. It is hard, tedious, dangerous at times, difficult work. And you needed more then one. I applaud the Location Manager and the Production Designer in finding these locations. But the talent of the Production Designer to see the potential, design the elements, and bring a coherent presentation to the director. Where a movie like this has a limited budget, the PD uses his talents to use the money thereby the entire look and feel of battle on the screen is accomplished. The detail in constructing a Taliban village or overseeing the set decorator in bringing to life a Navy Seal base station just doesn’t happen. It is talent experience and dedication to the project. Because it is a movie of survival on top of a mountain, don’t let the fog of war interfere with what happens around, below, and above the actors the story, and director

    • John says:

      Mrs. Healy, I am so very sorry for the loss of your son, Senior Chief Dan Healy.
      I can not possibly imagine the pain of loosing a child. However, I want to express my sincere thanks to you, your son and to all of the lives he has touched throughout his lifetime.
      I am very proud to be an American because of the men and women who serve in the ranks of our military. God Bless Each And Everyone Of Them.

  4. Lea DiCenso says:

    Loved Peter Berg as an actor and more so as a director. Glad he’s brought this story to the screen. My cousin was married to a Navy Seal – I know the crazy dangerous hadr work they do.

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