Toronto: 'Deepwater Horizon' Could Stake a Claim in Oscar's Tech Categories

Deepwater Horizon, a drama about the massive 2010 drilling rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday night, with survivor Mike Williams, who is played by Mark Wahlberg in the film, on hand for a standing ovation after it ended.

The production, which cost an estimated $156 million, will be released by Lionsgate/Summit nationwide on Sept. 30. It reunites director Peter Berg and Wahlberg three years after they teamed up on Lone Survivor, and it will, like that film, likely wind up a moneymaker at the box office but only a marginal player at the Oscars. To me, the new film looks poised to land noms in the same two categories as their previous film, best sound editing and best sound mixing — and perhaps best visual effects, as well.

There had been some speculation that Deepwater Horizon — which Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand adapted from a New York Times article, and in which Wahlberg, Gina Rodriguez and Kurt Russell portray workers on the rig, John Malkovich limns the role of a villainous BP rep overseeing them and Kate Hudson plays Wahlberg's wife and babymama back home — might contend across more categories.

But, ultimately, it turns out to be an action movie/disaster film, focused more on stunts and effects than on story, turning Wahlberg's regular-guy character, Mike Williams, into a superhero (nobody can accuse it of being anything but respectful and celebratory of virtually all of its real-life subjects, save for the guy played by Malkovich). That's fine. It's just never been the Academy's cup of tea.

The good news: The dynamic duo collaborated on another film that will hit theaters this year, on Dec. 21, called Patriots Day (Wahlberg unveiled the trailer during a talk at TIFF), which centers around the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and sounds a lot more like Oscar-bait to me.