Oscars: The Good, Bad, and Ugly from the Big Precursors Weekend

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Los Angeles Film Critics, New York Film Critics Online, and Boston Film Critics handed out their awards with multiple films making an appearance along the way.  It was a good weekend for some, not so good for others.  It’s still early enough in the season where no one is REALLY out of it just yet but SAG nominations will announce on Wednesday before the Golden Globes which announce Thursday.  

Now, a lot of this comes from the perspective of being a part of the voting process in NYFCO, but much of it also comes from the voting members of the organizations.  We know plenty of films and performances were being thrown out in the room, some of which got lost in the shuffle.  For instance, even though he hasn’t popped up yet, I know there’s an immense of amount of support surrounding Ethan Hawke’s work in “Boyhood.”  Three rounds of voting in Supporting Actor on Sunday afternoon, Hawke was in the thick of it with winner J.K. Simmons just barely edging him out, along with Edward Norton and Mark Ruffalo.

Look for the final SAG Predictions early tomorrow morning and then on Wednesday morning, Golden Globes.  Oscar Predictions will likely be updated again throughout the weekend.

Let’s look at what films and studios did well. 

boyhood_stillGOOD: BOYHOOD (IFC Films)

Big weekend for “Boyhood.” All the major groups of the weekend rewarded Richard Linklater’s film, solidifying its frontrunner status in the Oscar race.  Linklater himself also swept picking up three Director citations.  Being a part of NYFCO, you see first hand how “Boyhood” benefits immensely from a preferential ballot.  It will undoubtedly be many voters #1 film of the year, but it also gets quite a bit of #2’s and #3’s.  IFC Films has to be glowing this morning, feeling confident going into the televised award shows nominations. 

WHAT IT NEEDS TO SUSTAIN: Um…nothing?  But I think it’ll get more believers in a “Boyhood Wins Best Picture” scenario if the tech guilds cite it in a few places (ACE, PGA, etc). 

imitationgame_productionBAD: THE IMITATION GAME (The Weinstein Company)

Morten Tyldum’s film dropped on the circuit in a big way in September during TIFF, winning the Audience Award.  Believing the film as a spoiler for this year’s Oscar race is not supported by the film’s showing this weekend.  That doesn’t mean its out though.  “The King’s Speech,” which seems to be a constant comparison, got off to a slow start when “The Social Network” was winning everything and in the end, Hooper’s film prevailed.  It should be expected to make an impressive showing at the Golden Globes and SAG later this week.  BAFTA should also go crazy.

WHAT IT NEEDS FOR A REVIVAL: Golden Globe, SAG, BFCA (which it will likely get). 

selma 2UGLY: SELMA (Paramount Pictures)

It’s criminal at this point that Ava DuVernay’s spectacle about the march on Selma hasn’t been recognized in too many places.  Of all the things this weekend, DuVernay’s film picked up a Top 10 mention from NYFCO and the “New Generation Award” from LAFCA (which is utter b*llshit considering her filmography).  Funny enough, I don’t expect the film to make a strong showing with the HFPA this week considering how they usually shun a Best Picture frontrunner or two (“Capote,” “Crash,” and “Milk” didn’t receive Best Picture nominations).  SAG SHOULD revive the film in a big way, nabbing up mentions for David Oyelowo, the cast, and possibly Tom Wilkinson.  All it needs is for people to keep talking about it.

WHAT IT NEEDS FOR A REVIVAL: Needs more critics to see it.  They’re screening it for them but screeners are only being sent out to AMPAS.  This is one that needs the benefit of the option at home.  A strong Globe showing will help.  SAG seems like a no-brainer. 

twodaysonenight_marioncotillardGOOD: MARION COTILLARD (“Two Days, One Night” and “The Immigrant”)

For years Marion Cotillard has struggled on the awards circuit to nab herself another nomination following her win for “La Vie en Rose” in 2007.  “Public Enemies,” “Nine,” “Inception,” and “Rust & Bone” passed through AMPAS finger tips.  This year, she’s coming on strong for her work in the Dardennes’ film, which is Belgium’s submission for Foreign Language Film and James Gray’s “The Immigrant.”  With a slot seemingly open in Lead Actress, where other ladies like Jennifer Aniston (“Cake”), Hilary Swank (“The Homesman”), and Emily Blunt (“Into the Woods”) are fighting for a spot, Cotillard may look to edge out the competition.  On the other hand, we’ve been here before with her.  All we can do is hope it happens for her this time.

WHAT SHE NEEDS TO SUSTAIN: Cotillard has been making a compelling case for herself, which she always does.  While the Golden Globe could come her way (if Aniston or Swank don’t jump in front), SAG will prove strength.  IFC Films is already banking with “Boyhood,” and screeners have been out for weeks with this contender.  Honestly, she just needs AMPAS to notice, and NOT vote split.  Stay away Harvey.  Continue not to push “The Immigrant.”

grandbudapest_productiondesignGOOD: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

This, and “The LEGO Movie” are two early year contenders I did not expect to do as well as they’re doing right now.  Runner-up in LAFCA was a huge boost, also picking up awards for Screenplay.  While many pundits (including myself) believe the Original Screenplay race is between “Birdman” and “Boyhood,” I think there’s a new dark horse in Wes Anderson, who has received three Oscar nominations.  Maybe the writers and AMPAS feel compelled to give him his consolation prize.

WHAT IT NEEDS TO SUSTAIN: Seems like something tailor-made for a Golden Globe (Comedy or Musical) nominee but SAG Ensemble would surely help tons.  The guilds will go for it but outside of Screenplay, how many members will put this at #1?  Fox Searchlight is putting a lot of power behind “Birdman,” Fiennes and the film could use some extra cash.

intothewoods_bannerBAD: INTO THE WOODS (Walt Disney Pictures)

Walt Disney Pictures is spending a lot of money on the campaign for “Into the Woods.” Meryl Streep is foregone conclusion for her record 19th Oscar nomination (and rightfully deserved this time around).  The film itself has support out there, many of which were fighting for it in some of these voting groups, particularly Ensemble and Streep herself.  A musical like this isn’t expected to do well on the critical awards front but it would have been nice to make a Top 10 mention with NYFCO, or a runner up mention with LAFCA.

“Chicago” didn’t pull big punches in the early rounds either.  It needs more time.

WHAT IT NEEDS FOR A REVIVAL: A seven nomination morning at the Globes surely would be a game-changer (Picture, Corden, Blunt, Streep, Kendrick, Pine, Director) but SAG Ensemble with both Blunt and Streep making the cuts in the acting categories will do.  They’re making the rounds, and the film seems to be well-liked from what critics have been expressing under embargo.  

foxcatcherUGLY: FOXCATCHER (Sony Pictures Classics)

This is such an odd demon in the mix.  People really love Bennett Miller’s third feature, and it was the convo for many awards this weekend including Actor, Supporting Actor, and Ensemble.  There are some who are left cold, and it seems to be overtaken by its studio colleague “Mr. Turner,” which did receive some mentions along the way.  Golden Globes and SAG are going to be essential for this calculated drama to stay in the conversation.  I still believe in it though.

WHAT IT NEEDS FOR A REVIVAL: Winning something that doesn’t have the word “Special” or “Ensemble” would be good at this point.  The ineligible films for WGA should help make the film make the cut and Carell just needs to keep doing what he’s been doing.  Below the line, there is a lot to admire to.  Let’s focus on that dreary and cloudy cinematography or brilliant score by Rob Simonsen.

lockeGOOD: TOM HARDY (“Locke”)

A24 Films must be glowing this morning.  A stealth (actually not that stealth) campaign for “Locke” has been going on for weeks, attempting to keep its scribe Steven Knight in the conversation for Original Screenplay.  Out pops Tom Hardy with a very endearing prize from LAFCA.  Hardy has been someone aching for awards attention for years now (citing him a few years ago on my personal ballot for “Bronson”).  I’m not sure if this shakes things up for him in the race, but at least people will be more willing to watch his film over the holiday break if they haven’t done so already.

WHAT HE NEEDS TO SUSTAIN: A Globe nod would be good, a SAG nod would be better.  Will BFCA go for it?  It may be too little too late for the film to make a dent for crazy things happen all the time.

agata_idaGOOD: AGATA KULESZA (“Ida”) 

It was flooring how much this name popped up during the weekend, and not just from LAFCA who rewarded her as Best Supporting Actress.  She was in the mix with NYFCO for Breakthrough Performance, and members had expressed their love for her in the acting category.  As the film gains traction for the Foreign Language Oscar, Kulesza tries to rise in the ranks of Supporting Actress.  It’s a nice change of pace, and if anything, gives the momentum for the film itself.

WHAT SHE NEEDS TO SUSTAIN: I think we’re going to hear a half dozen more mentions from her along the way but this virtual unknown actress has a lot of big names ahead of her that seem either “locked” or about to be.  She will keep the film in the conversation for Foreign Language film but if people keep noticing, perhaps Screenplay is in the cards.

Discuss the weekend in the comment section below!

  • Thomas J Williams

    With two rather strong British “biopics” in the running this year, could they possibly vie with one another? These critics groups don’t have a delegation of British voters like the Academy does but I am wondering if this will figure into any of these “races” at all?

    Which one do I vote for? Hence … they split the vote.

    This is why Julianne Moore’s Maps film was pushed back to March. Don’t give people options! In cases like these, they cannot be good.

    Cotillard — this is Rust and Bone 2.0 and she’ll come up short at the Academy. Into the Woods is too early and it’ll be loved come Academy noms morning. Budapest is deserving of everything it gets … let’s see who remembers. And as for Selma … don’t you hate thinking that IF ’12 Years …’ wasn’t just last year more people might support this one? We live in an ugly world and I wouldn’t put this thought past many people: “too much love in two years!” Cringe …

  • Phillip Milner

    My problem with GBH is that it is Anderson’s weakest film to date! Where was all this love when Moonrise Kingdom came out. That movie was a masterpiece.