There’s a storm coming, and it’s called the AFI Film Festival which kicks off on Thursday with the World Premiere of J.C. Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year,” which had a full trailer premiere earlier today. We are in desperate need of a big shake up in the races just on pure entertainment purposes. There’s a “standard” consensus forming in several categories and it would be nice to see someone like Oscar Isaac and/or J.C. Chandor make a run for the podium alongside the likes of Richard Linklater and Christopher Nolan. When you’re making a list of predicted contenders, there can be smart choices (a.k.a. boring ones like Spall, Adams, Hawke inclusions), and there are the ones you’re either hoping or rumored to be something substantial. On the beat we’re assuming that Bradley Cooper (“American Sniper”) or Jack O’Connell (“Unbroken”) are going to shake things up when their films drop but I’m of the mind that we aren’t looking in enough places to find surprise contenders. I’m very bullish that Ralph Fiennes is still very much in the conversation for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and I’m hearing that Oscar Isaac could finally have his shot for Chandor’s film. You can read Sam’s inaugural S.A.M. Stat #1 for more information on predicting all first time nominees.
Also playing at the festival, Rupert Wyatt’s “The Gambler” with Mark Wahlberg, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice,” and Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher.” Following its debut at TIFF, “Still Alice” with Julianne Moore will have another go with the festival crowd, as will Mike Leigh’s “Mr. Turner,” Xavier Dolan’s “Mommy,” and Bertrand Bonello’s “Saint Laurent.” AFI will also offer a first look at Ava DuVernay‘s “Selma” which is set for its first Academy screening during Thanksgiving weekend.
Also coming this week…the official opening of Nolan’s “Interstellar” which will have a whole lot of fanboys excited. As it stands today, the film is sitting at 76% on Rotten Tomatoes and 75 on Metacritic. Not exactly the scores you would want in a Best Picture winner but the tide can certainly change on the dime around here. Paramount Pictures is very confident on their chances and they still have “Selma” up their sleeve to push them along the season. Matthew McConaughey, fresh off his win for “Dallas Buyers Club” is simply outstanding. It’s hard to predict leftover good will that translates into a nomination. We’ve seen it before with Johnny Depp following “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” it certainly worked for Jeff Bridges following “Crazy Heart.” The problem is, we don’t get a whole lot of leading men nominated from a science fiction film. Depending on your definition of what science fiction is, the last nominee was Jeff Bridges in “Starman” in 1984 for the leading males. That was the year I was born. Not a good batting average.
We continue to push forward. Phase 1 of the awards season is set to launch in less than two weeks. Screenings will be in full force (as they are already) and before you know, critics will start handing out awards starting with the New York Film Critics Circle.
Looking at the predictions, there’s movement for some big names and films. Here are some you might notice:
- “A Most Violent Year” joins the Best Picture lineup, with co-star Jessica Chastain moving up 3 spaces to #2 behind frontrunner Patricia Arquette for “Boyhood” and the script cracking the Original Screenplay predictions.
- “Selma” and its acting team enter the fray again with David Oyelowo and Tim Roth listed in their respective categories.
- Rumors about “American Sniper” (and legitimate logic) have me pulling away from the film which opens up room for “Wild” in Adapted Screenplay.
- “The Imitation Game” becomes the most predicted nominee with nine. “Birdman,” “Interstellar,” and “Unbroken” are close behind with eight.
- Kristen Stewart creeps up in the Supporting Actress ranks for her work in “Still Alice.” Is she this year’s Sally Hawkins?
- The official submissions for Documentary Feature don’t have too much to say other than it’s still between “Life Itself” and “CITIZENFOUR” at the moment.