Around the Circuit: January 1 – 7

AroundtheCircuit

Remember this globetrotting column, oh faithful readers? We’re bringing it back for a few weeks as we head closer and closer to that momentous date: Sunday, February 22nd, 2015. Leading up to the big Oscar reveal – where we will all collectively gasp in relief as the mysteries are finally put to rest – I will do my best to summarize the weekly awards conversation by redirecting you to some key articles that approximate where the race currently stands. Let’s begin with what I consider the biggest awards-related news of the past seven days…

Story of the Week:

In a shocking last-minute decision, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided to categorize Damian Chazelle’s Sundance champ Whiplash as an adapted screenplay. Sony Picture Classics has been campaigning the film in the “Best Original Screenplay” category, among others, and is now understandably worried that this switch could confuse voters and ultimately derail the film’s chances at key Oscar nominations. Kris Tapley of Hitflix fame analyzes this untimely switcheroo, which first landed on everyone’s social media laps via Grantland writer Mark Harris.

Best of the Rest:

Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter talks us through the potential impact the PGA nominations might have on the Oscar race. Big budget films that should have been screened by the majority of AMPAS members and still missed a PGA nod might want to pack up and leave at this point. Smaller films which have garnered a ton of precursor love but still haven’t all been screened – Selma and A Most Violent Year, to name a few – have, according to Feinberg, a potential shot at the big leagues. After all, the PGA and Oscar Best Picture lineup almost never line up 100% judging by the results of the past few years. Little guys (and maybe Interstellar considering Paramount’s lack of screener effort), keep your heads up!

Anne Thompson of Indiewire and Thompson on Hollywood gives us seven strong reasons why Jennifer Aniston’s career-redefining performance in Cake might play the spoiler to Julianne Moore’s foregone win. You know the only time the Academy can resist one good narrative is when an even greater one comes along in the eleventh hour.

Flavorwire’s Jason Bailey reminds us that this nasty, convenient takedown of Ava DuVernay’s Selma — based on an alleged historical inaccuracy involving LBJ — is no more than a plot to discredit the film’s Oscar chances. Bailey takes us back in time to many an Oscar contender that was dragged through the mud via senseless fact-checking in an attempt to nosedive said film’s Academy Award prospects. Well, these whisper campaigns certainly prove the ultimate truth of history: it’s doomed to repeat itself.

Sasha Stone of Awards Daily admits that although she cannot fathom Gone Girl missing out on a Best Picture nod due to its strong precursor showing – especially among the various guilds – her instincts lead her to trust in those that guide pundits Feinberg and Tapley. In a year when too many films are deemed great when really they’re just boringly safe, Gone Girl’s controversial complexity might in fact leave it on the outside looking in…just like David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Which films were most hurt by the PGA snub this week? Alex Garofalo of International Business Times unveils the four big casualties, giving us a sense of which films need to pray for Lady Luck to shine a light on them come Oscar nomination morning. All four of these candidates at various stages during the awards race seemed like sure bets but now have been overtaken by smaller fish like Whiplash and Nightcrawler.

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox astutely notes how easy it is to predict the Oscar nominations these days, and points to the Gurus of Gold chart for reference. So long as you have a prestige biopic with a white male lead overcoming some kind of problem, your film is more than likely to get in regardless of quality. This is the reason why pundits have no hesitation ranking The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything so high in spite of their overall lukewarm response from critics across the nation.