This week leading into next is pretty much the awards season pinnacle… Oscar nominations voting ends this Thursday, January 8, the 2015 Golden Globes take place this Sunday, January 11, and by next weekend the Oscar nominations will have been revealed and the Critics Choice Awards will have been announced. After that, it’s pretty much a waiting game to see what the consensus is among the guilds and industry groups before the 2015 Oscars on February 22. Then again, maybe not…
Most often we are faced with a “A vs. B” scenario. Last year it was “12 Years a Slave vs. Gravity“. The year before that it was “Argo vs. Linoln (or Silver Linings Playbook)”, in 2011 it was “The King’s Speech vs. The Social Network” and the year before that it was “The Hurt Locker vs. Avatar“. This year it’s not quite as simple… though by the time February 22nd rolls around maybe we’ll all look back and say, “Yeah, it really was that simple.”
Boyhood has secured its spot as the front-runner now that Paramount has pretty much botched the release of Ava DuVernay‘s Selma, at least as far as making it an awards contender is concerned. The studio has so far only released it in 22 theaters, the controversy surrounding its accuracy is full steam ahead and just yesterday it was absent from the Producers Guild nominations. Not a good sign for a movie I considered a solid frontrunner after seeing it. Make no mistake, it will still get a nomination, but it won’t be winning.
At this moment I see three films competing for Best Picture… Obviously Boyhood on top, a position strongly supported by its early season wins with both the strong support from film critics around the world. But film critics don’t vote for Best Picture winners, the Academy does, which leads us to two more contenders.
Let me first address Birdman, which lead in nominations for the Critics Choice Awards, Golden Globe Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Leading in nominations is never a sure-fire sign of support and in the case of Birdman it’s largely due to the number of acting nominations it’s getting along with below-the-line noms, but it definitely means something. Speaking of acting nominations, what’s the largest branch in the Academy? The acting branch you say? Might that help with this film’s chances?
Then there’s The Imitation Game. Many are lumping this one with The Theory of Everything, which I think is a mistake. Imitation is the better film while Theory is a slightly better ensemble (my opinion), not to mention Imitation has the benefit of 1.) playing later in the season and 2.) the Weinsteins. Imitation Game is playing like gangbusters with audiences, and, from what I’m hearing, with the Academy. This past weekend it dropped only 2% from its previous weekend and it hasn’t yet made it into 1,000 theaters yet. This is your “soft lay” film of the season and should definitely not be overlooked when considering which film will take the top prize. In fact, right now, it’s my number two contender behind Boyhood.
Also in my top five, though not yet mentioned, is Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel, a film, I believe to be, too whimsical and slight to actually win the top prize, but it’s definitely a player thanks to its strong performance in the early precursors. However, it’s likely to only walk away with a few craft awards (Costumes, Production Design and/or Makeup) this year.
All that said, here’s my current field of what I believe will be nine nominees for this year’s Best Picture (full field here):
The bottom of this list is where things get interesting as we may be looking at a year with ten nominees or is it possible this could be our first year with only eight?
Unbroken also missed out with the Producers Guild and it was really hard for me to leave Whiplash off this list as it seems like a strong bet for a nomination and Nightcrawler‘s Producers Guild nomination makes it equally hard leaving it out of the list of nominees as it has had a very strong showing in this year’s early awards.
The newest addition to my list of nominees is Clint Eastwood‘s American Sniper, which got a boost not only from the Producers, but from the box office where it has been setting records in limited release, playing in only four theaters the past two weekends and bringing in $158,364 its first weekend and a massive $169,227 in its second. No, box office doesn’t decide nominees, but it’s making noise and generating attention and with the name Eastwood attached to the picture it certainly helps its chances.
At this point, there really isn’t much more left to say. We have the 2015 Golden Globes this Sunday, which we’ll be live blogging right here at RopeofSilicon.com and after which I will offer up my 2015 update to the my predictions a bit.
Then on Thursday, January 15, we’ll get the Oscar nominations in the morning and the Critics’ Choice Awards that night and the ball will really be rolling. Should Boyhood walk away with both a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice top award we may be able to call this season as early as next Thursday. Otherwise, maybe a few wrenches will be thrown in the works.
For now, you can see all of my Oscar predictions right here as I opened the doors on all the categories except for the sound categories in the past 48 hours. I should have those sound categories open soon as I’m waiting on the Cinema Audio Society and Motion Picture Sound Editors to announce their nominees within the next week.