me-and-earl-and-the-dying-girl-is-hilariously-heartwarming-sundance-2015Film: The Potential of “Me & Earl & the Dying Girl”

There were many flashy films at this years Sundance Film Festival, but in the end the Grand Jury Prize, as well as the Audience Award, went to an independent adaptation called “Me & Earl & the Dying Girl.”

“Me & Earl & the Dying Girl” is an adaptation of a 2013 book of the same name by Jesse Andrews. It tells the story of a teenage filmmaker and how he befriends a classmate with cancer. It has been called funny, heart-breaking, poignant, and melancholic by critics. It currently holds a 92 on Metacritic with 7 reviews logged.

In recent history, the film that wins the top prize at Sundance ultimately shows up in the Oscar race at the end of the year. In 2012 “Beasts of the Southern Wild” won and went on to score both Best Picture and Best Directing Oscar nominations. Last year “Whiplash” went on to win 3 Oscars.

However, wedged in between those two years was “Fruitvale Station” which had strong reviews, but ultimately didn’t receive any Oscar attention.

These films usually come from relatively unknown artists. The director of “Me & Earl & the Dying Girl” is Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, and while he may not be a household name, he has been around the television and film industry for some time now.

Rejon has directed several episodes of both “Glee” and “American Horror Story,” he has done several commercials, and in his early career served as a personal assistant to Martin Scorsese, Nora Ephron, Robert de Niro, and Alejandro González Iñárritu. He also served as a 2nd Unit Director for the films “Babel,” “Julie and Julia,” and “Argo.”

The case in “Me & Earl & the Dying Girl” is extensive. It includes strong performances from its relatively unknown young stars, and memorable supporting performance from popular actors including Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal, and Connie Britton.

Fox Searchlight acquired rights to several films at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival including Noah Baumbach’s “Mistress America,” “True Story,” “Brooklyn,” and this film.

Fox Searchlight also has a strong recent history with Oscars having distributed both “Birdman” and “12 Years a Slave.” This year their slate is awfully full. Including a Jean-Marc Vallée (“Dallas Buyers Club,” “Wild”) film titled “Demolition” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts, “A Bigger Splash,” and “Mistress America” all of which have yet to set release dates.

They also have “True Story,” “Far From the Madding Crowd,” and “Brooklyn” “Brooklyn” received strong reviews out of Sundance and was almost immediately given an award-season release date of November 6th. It also vaulted Saorise Ronan to the top of our Best Lead Actress Oscar Predictions.

“Me & Earl & the Dying Girl” was given a summer limited release date of June 12, 2015. This made the film’s award prospects questionable. However both “Boyhood” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” were summer releases that went on to have award success.

The Variety Studio At Sundance Presented By Dockers - Day 3 - 2015 Park CityPROS
– Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance

– Strong Ensemble, experienced director

– Great early reviews

– Fox Searchlight has a strong recent history with transforming small films into award winners.

– Questionable release date and questionable marketability.