Oscar Circuit: Going Home for the Holidays with Screeners


foxcatcher_fycMany members of the Academy will be venturing off on holiday this week, some as soon as Monday.  Over the next week and a half, AMPAS will be popping all those screeners that have piled up, and that they’ve “heard” about for months now.  There are some they will run to see like “Gone Girl” or “The Imitation Game.”  Others will be further down the list but will undoubtedly get enough to people to support it.  I’m thinking films like “Cake” and “Nightcrawler” will fit in this category.  No matter what they decide to see, they will surely pay attention to the award show nominations that have announced so far.  They look to those for guidance.  If a film or performance is nominated at the Globes, SAG, or Critics Choice Movie Awards, they’ll look for those films first.  What pundits, bloggers, and other film lovers need to do, is make them look outside the box.  Almost every year, there’s a film I catch at the last minute that makes a substantial impact in my “best of” list. Last year, “The Broken Circle Breakdown” knocked me on my ass in mid-December and as a result, Veerle Baetens was my personal pick for Best Actress.  

If we’re assessing the temperature of the race, it’s as follows:  “Boyhood” has solidified itself as the Best Picture frontrunner, but it’s far from over where that’s concerned.  “Birdman” continues to pick up several notices from every regional critics group.  The actor’s support will be behind them, and it’s the technical marvel that Oscar has recognized over the years (i.e. “Gravity” and “Life of Pi”).  At this point, it will probably lead the tally of nominations on the morning.  My initial guess is eight.  That’s if “The Theory of Everything” doesn’t continue to build momentum the way it has.  Being named among the shortlist of Makeup & Hairstyling contenders, and scoring the SAG Ensemble nod has convinced me that this film will have a lot of love in all branches.  I’ve gone on record saying that there’s a potential day of ten nominations for James Marsh’s biopic.  

Harvey Weinstein is putting the gas to the floor on “The Imitation Game.”  Missing out on the Globe nomination for Best Director put a chink in the armor, as well as the BFCA snub but I think they can still pull through.  Since Toronto gave it the Audience prize, it’s been near the top of every pundit’s list but it’s starting to lose steam.  One thing about Harvey though, is he doesn’t need the guilds to make a major impact.  The film could still do very well.

Paramount Pictures is spreading their wealth on Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” and Ava DuVernay’s “Selma.”  For the former, they have began a very focused campaign on the actor’s, citing the works of Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain.  For the latter, they’re playing catch up after not getting screeners out in time for SAG nominations.  “Interstellar” made a poor showing with the Globes, only nabbing an Original Score nod for Hans Zimmer.  In the technical branches, it’s hard to say where the film will show up anymore.  Cinematography may not be as assured as it once was, the Sound design has been criticized virtually everywhere, and at nearly three hours, I’m not sure Editing is in the cards.  When it comes to “Selma,” it’s still very much in the hunt for a Best Picture prize.  DuVernay is hitting the beat extremely well, and is just a joy to spend time with at these events.  The only thing that plagues the film from winning Best Picture is general history regarding a film that hasn’t been nominated for SAG Ensemble.  The last film to do that was Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart,” the first year that they had the category.   That’s a big hump to jump.  The controversy surrounding the writing credit for DuVernay may plague it as well.

Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” has done very well on the beat, even picking up its own win from a critics group.  Ralph Fiennes benefits the most from the film picking up steam in a category that has seemingly two spots up for grabs.  In regards to the film’s Best Picture chances, we haven’t seen a Wes Anderson film do this well on the circuit…ever.  None of his features have received a Best Picture nomination and this March release is just as quirky as his others.  What’s to assume anything has changed?

The reviews have began to drop for Rob Marshall’s “Into the Woods” and it’s being received better than I would have expected.  Since “Chicago,” only “Les Miserables” has managed a Best Picture nomination.  “Dreamgirls” and “Nine” both failed in years where they looked like solid bets, even with middling reviews for the latter.  The sure fire nomination for Meryl Streep, and close call for Emily Blunt may keep this in the conversation.  The tech branches, especially Production Design, Costume Design, and Sound Mixing should help the cause.  

Unbroken” continues to screen for Academy members and word is that they are loving it.  I wouldn’t pay attention to those reviews too much longer.  “Foxcatcher” and “Nightcrawler” have making a serious case for themselves, one with Globe and the other with BFCA.  “Whiplash” is still playing well out there but is coming off like an afterthought at this point in the season.  I needs PGA.  “A Most Violent Year” started off strong with the National Board of Review win but has not shown up anywhere else since.

In the recent Oscar Predictions update, here are some thoughts:

  • We get one “WTF?” nominations, one that comes without Globe, SAG, and BFCA.  Who is that this year?  My guess right now is for Rene Russo for “Nightcrawler.”  A career nomination in a film that is doing very well.  Another educated guess would be Josh Brolin for “Inherent Vice” (who got BFCA) but hasn’t really popped up anywhere else.  There’s also a narrative with Timothy Spall for “Mr. Turner” or Hilary Swank for “The Homesman” make that prediction come true.
  • Rosamund Pike has picked up the last few critics notices, with some leading to believe she’s the spoiler for Julianne Moore.  I’m believing that Jennifer Aniston for “Cake” would be the hands down winner in a year not filled with Moore.
  • There’s going to be a snub this year, one I think on Tom Hanks level.  I can’t figure out who that is yet.  Some say Benedict Cumberbatch but I don’t buy that.  A small part of me thinks its Rosamund Pike, but I come back to Mark Ruffalo quite often.  Right now, I’m seeing Jessica Chastain, who I think is being hurt by her own second campaign for “Interstellar.”
  • If we get less than 9 Best Picture nominees, which I don’t think we will, but if we do, we could get our first lone director nominee in this expanded field.  I’m circling around David Fincher possibly snagging that spot, given that Tyldum, Marsh, or Anderson don’t make it.  Damien Chazelle could be a candidate as well.
  • I don’t think that Animated Feature will have five American movies make the cut.  “Cheatin’,” “Song of the Sea,” and “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” all have great shots.  Two of them could even edge out something like “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”

Check out the Oscar Predictions and include your predictions in the comment section.