Friday, October 10, 2014

The Oscar Narrative: Post Venice/Telluride/Toronto Predictions - Best Picture

Post Venice/Telluride/Toronto Predictions
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
A Most Violent Year
The Theory of Everything

Other Contenders - Selma, Boyhood, Fury, American Sniper, Mr. Turner, Whiplash, Trash, Big Eyes, Inherent Vice, Get on Up, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Homesman, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Still Alice, Pride, A Most Wanted Man, St. Vincent, The Skeleton Twins, How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Boxtrolls, The Lego Movie, Big Hero 6, The Fault in Our Stars, Love is Strange, Cavalry, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Maps to the Stars, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Obvious Child, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Gambler

Commentary - We are in a bit of a lull right now. We are now waiting to see how the festival films play with broader audiences, and we are waiting with baited breath to see where these unseen contenders fall into place. Within about six weeks we will have most of our answers, right before the critics go to work. So here is our six-week lull right in the middle of the season. Let's take a moment to breathe, get ready for the work ahead, and look where we have been, and most importantly, where we are going. But first, let's start with the ones I am not predicting. Selma looks beautiful on paper, but I am holding back for now. Boyhood is so strong right now, but I still wonder whether it can survive the onslaught. Critics love it, the Academy may as well, but I still holding off. American Sniper has the look of a late entry that could sweep us all by storm. It could be Clint's Million Dollar Baby all over again. Whiplash is the indie favorite looking to join the club, Big Eyes could be Tim Burton's first Best Picture nomination, and The Grand Budapest Hotel hopes to go where Moonrise Kingdom failed to. Fury will hit in about a week, and its reception will determine its fate, although it could be easily encompassed by Unbroken by the end of the season. There is of course Stephen Daldry's Trash, which history suggests must remain on our radar. Inherent Vice is getting great reviews, but it looks like one of those eccentric films that could score a few nods, but not have enough broad support to reach the top. Feel good favorites like Pride, The Hundred Foot Journey, Get On Up, The Fault in Our Stars, the various well-reviewed animated films, and The Skeleton Twins are all possibilities, but there have got to be a lot of contenders fall out for any of them to actually happen. Now onto my actual predictions. Gone Girl got a mild reception at its Academy screening, as many reported that it received more respect than love. But respect is not something to discount, and if it continues to rage at the box office I think it could have enough power to go where The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo couldn't. And considering that I think it is much more palatable across the board, it is not hard to see it doing so. Foxcatcher and Birdman continue to have buzz, but their second hurdle comes when the actually open in theaters to see if audiences, and Academy members will respond with the same enthusiasm. The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything have Oscar written all over them: biopics, emotional heart-tugging, and saved by their performances (actors makeup up the biggest branch). But both need to breakout from each other (they seem to come as a package deal), get their directors involved in the mix (both seem to be absent at this point), and both have to hit stateside and crossover. Finally, I think a lot of people are underestimating Wild, the same way we underestimated Dallas Buyers Club last year. The performances are raved, the film apparently packs an emotional punch, and I think, like its director's predecessor, it will remain a scrappy fighter till the end. So that is what we have seen. The rest are simply shots in the dark. A Most Violent Year is making its presence known, and its campaigners must have faith in it to get its Oscar race going much earlier than its actual release date. Plus, with JC Chandor, Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac on board, it has the chance to be a real smash. Rob Marshall is due for another smash hit, and Into the Woods could be his second Chicago, or it could be his second Nine. Interstellar is getting rave reviews out of the studio, and I think it could land Christopher Nolan his second Best Picture nomination. Finally, there is Unbroken. If this film is even half as good as it looks on paper, then it will end up being an Oscar smash. And considering the folks involved, and the incredible story behind it, I hope it is.

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