‘The Walk’ Looks Like a Tricky Balancing Act For Awards Voters

Several films have become classics due to one key sequence: for example, “Ben-Hur” with its chariot race and “Bullitt” with the car chase. TriStar’s “The Walk” is another film where the climactic final scene will be what viewers remember most — so is that enough to interest awards voters?

The Walk” tells the true story of Philippe Petit’s tightrope walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974, just as construction was being completed. The tale was first told in the 2008 Oscar-winning documentary, “Man on Wire” — which some say is still fresh, possibly too fresh, in many viewers’ minds.

The first hour is foreplay (with director Robert Zemeckis offering some fun use of 3D), the next 30 minutes is a suspense-building caper — and the final half-hour is a heart-stopping sequence that is so expertly realized that it could earn the film awards attention.

“Walk” begins an IMAX platform release Wednesday and opens wide Oct. 9. The cinematography and visual effects make it imperative to see in a theater  (what a concept: film business voters seeing a film in a cinema, rather than at home!).

In the climactic sequence, the flashiest work is from the visual effects team under VFX supervisor Kevin Baillie; they created layers of complexity in each shot, which was undoubtedly more difficult due to 3D considerations. But don’t overlook the cinematography of Dariusz Wolski, editing of Jeremiah O’Driscoll and the production design of Naomi Shohan and music by Alan Silvestri.

Will acclaim for below-the-line work catapult the film into other Oscar categories, such as director and best pic? It’s too soon to tell, especially since some film festival titles that are currently hot will cool off by December. Having more popcorn movies in consideration this year, such as “The Walk” and “The Martian,” could be a welcome change of pace. Another wild card is “Star Wars,” which was nominated for best pic in 1978. With so much industry affection for the franchise, the force could be with the latest installment.

Despite the white-knuckle half-hour and coda (a subtle but effective reminder of 9/11), “The Walk” has a light-hearted tone, though it’s not likely to make it onto the Golden Globes comedy ballot. It’s mostly a caper pic; like the protagonist in “Ocean’s Eleven,” Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) carefully builds his team of conspirators before his amazing, law-breaking act. And it’s basically played for laughs.

Gordon-Levitt’s performance has all the requisite elements that actors usually love, including an accent and a physical transformation. His French accent may be a little ooh-la-la for some, but footage of Petit shows that Gordon-Levitt got it right. His performance is more jaunty and twinkle-eyed than most of the heavy-duty work that actors are doing this year — so competing with the rest of the oh-so-serious actors will be a tricky balancing act.

More Film

  • '2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live

    Film Review: ‘2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action’

    The Academy skewed dark in its choice of live-action shorts this year, selecting four films to slit your wrists by — each one featuring child endangerment in a different form — and a fifth, about a diabetic on her death bed, that finds a glimmer of uplift at the other end of life. If that [...]

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Yorgos Lanthimos

    Film News Roundup: 'The Favourite' Director Yorgos Lanthimos Boards Crime Drama

    In today’s film news roundup, Yorgos Lanthimos has set up a crime drama, “Here Lies Daniel Tate” is being adapted, and Donna Langley becomes a member of the USC film school board. DIRECTOR HIRED “The Favourite” producer-director Yorgos Lanthimos has signed on to write and direct crime drama “Pop. 1280,” an adaptation of Jim Thompson’s [...]

  • Brody Stevens Dead

    Comedian Brody Stevens Dies at 48

    Prominent Los Angeles comedian Brody Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed. He was 48. “Brody was an inspiring voice who was a friend to many in the comedy community,” Stevens’ reps said in a statement. “He pushed creative boundaries and his passion for his work and his love of baseball were contagious. [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business

    Hollywood Agents Blast Writers Guild Over New Proposals

    The war between the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood agents has escalated as the two sides battle over the rules on how writers are represented. The latest volley emerged Friday from Karen Stuart, executive director of the Association of Talent Agents, who accused WGA leaders of misleading its members and asserted that the guild [...]

  • Xavier Legrand Custody

    Cesar Awards: Xavier Legrand’s ‘Custody’ Wins Best Film

    Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody,” a tense portrait of a family torn by domestic violence, won best film, actress (for Lea Drucker), and original screenplay at the 44th Cesar Awards, which took place at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. The awards are France’s highest film honors. “Custody,” which marks Legrand’s follow up to his Oscar-nominated [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content