|Scene from Boyhood|
With the Oscar nominations only one week away, now seems like a good time to take into account the various categories and share personal thoughts on what stands a chance and what will likely not make the cut. The following is a rundown of the performers who I feel will most likely make it to the final five in the Best Picture race and who may be considered a potential threat for the category. Let me state that this isn't a prediction of who will win, simply who will get the nomination.
" * " indicates haven't seen
For better or worse, Boyhood has been the film to beat for most of awards season. Topping almost every awards list and recently winning the Golden Globe for Best Movie (Drama), there's too much sentimental value attached to the film to suggest that it has any real threat of losing, or at very least being nominated. It is a motion picture that challenges the medium in new and insightful ways that have thankfully been recognized as the awards season has gone on.
The film has gotten a lot of attention for very obvious reasons. For one, it is technically impressive and features some of the more inventive camera techniques of the year. Also, it is a very meta Hollywood film about acting: a subject that the Oscars have fallen in love with as evident by "movies helping people" winners The King's Speech, The Artist and Argo. While the film is not anywhere near as good as Boyhood, its threat is imminent and one to watch out for, as it is rich with comedy, insight and vibrant energy that makes it an important film in different ways from Boyhood.
In terms of potential Best Picture winners, this is the third head in the race that you should keep your eye on. It may have gone through the awards season almost entirely empty-handed, but with current events causing correlating coincidences, there's a chance that the film's subject will be more highlighted and feel important enough to be nominated. If anything, this is the film that keeps the race interesting and one that is likely to show up strong on Oscar night and may even upset the Boyhood and Birdman fans.
The Theory of Everything
In terms of biopics, this is one of the better ones of the year. Following the journey of Stephen Hawking as he gets diagnosed with Lou Gherig's Disease. While this may seem like an easy ploy for emotional manipulation, it actually works thanks to fantastic performances by both Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as the husband and wife. There's plenty to like and the film is overall a really memorable and uplifting film in the ways that Oscars would pay attention to. Also, with the amount of nominations it has racked up, it almost seems impossible not to see this making the cut.
The Imitation Game
The other major biopic and apparently the biggest World War II film of the year in terms of success. This story of Alan Turing is one that is full of interesting ideas involving computers and his homosexuality. Much like The Theory of Everything, the film's success lies mostly in the lead actor's performance and manages to feature a very impressive score. While it at times feels too conventional to ever be truly great, it still gets enough right to be a lock for this category.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
One of the greatest surprises of 2014's awards season has been seeing Wes Anderson's latest film pop up on a lot of lists. If asked a few months ago, it didn't seem likely that The Grand Budapest Hotel would even make the cut. However, now that it has been on several nominations lists and won the Golden Globe for Best Movie (Comedy/Musical), it is looking more and more likely that Anderson has finally broken the code and made his way into the category.
You can always count on Bennett Miller to be a supporting player in the Best Picture category. Having been here for his past two films, he seems like a lock with this film that may be dark and full of bleak undertones, but is still one of the more critically acclaimed films of the year. It isn't likely to get any attention, but with the pedigree behind it, the film seems very likely to sneak into a lot of fields, including this one.
Sure, the film hasn't been nominated in any major races, but the film is in the perfect hole for a Best Picture nomination. It is an inspirational story that features harrowing feats and a lot of bravery that makes it an easy contender. In a sense, it is like War Horse in that it is a film that has been largely ignored prior to the Academy Awards and ended up getting a nomination. Don't let out hope for this film, which may not be entirely successful but works well enough to be nominated.
After last year saw director Jean-Marc Vallee lead Matthew McConaughey to an Oscar nomination, he is back in a film that seems prone to do similar things. While Dallas Buyers Club was an unassuming Best Picture nominee, it seems like Wild is going to do the same. Leave it up to the acclaim around Reese Witherspoon's performance to elevate this film to a potential nominee. It may have not shown up on too many other awards nominations list, but it still has enough acclaim behind it to potentially do something greater.
American Sniper *
The film is a late-late-late contender in the ways that will likely end up helping it get more recognition at the Oscars. For starters, director Clint Eastwood has already earned a Best Director nomination from the DGA and has been on good terms with the Academy Awards whenever he releases a worthwhile movie. I am not sure if this film is actually going to be that great, but it looks to be a rather intense film with the director in top form.
Into the Woods
This may seem like a ridiculous notion, but let me give you two words: Les Miserables. The 2012 musical didn't seem to be taken as a serious contender for most of its run. However, Into the Woods ended up opening on the same holiday and is also a musical. It is a film that the Academy will likely recognize thanks to its uniqueness and being a film from former Best Picture winning director Rob Marshall. It may not seem like a logical choice, but it will make sense based on previous patterns.
I don't believe that the film really stands much of a chance, but considering that it is one of the most acclaimed sci-fi films of the year, it is likely that the film can get into the category solely on this credential. While it is Christopher Nolan's most divisive film, it is also one of his most ambitious and pushes cinema into new and interesting places. It is an epic unlike most currently out, which could be enough to make the cut.
Much like Wild, I do feel like this is a film that is mostly riding on the success of one actor. With J.K. Simmons posed to win for Whiplash as Best Supporting Actor, there is a chance that the Academy will actually notice the potential of this great film and give it more recognition than its pre-Oscars race has given it.
Personal Favorites Not Likely to Make It
I am not entirely sure why this film has been almost completely ignored in the Best Picture categories during this Oscar race. However, it is one of the most powerful and authentic films of the year, worthy of more acclaim than it has gotten. I'm not expecting a Best Picture win, but it definitely deserves something more than what it has gotten.