The April Foolish predictions for 2014 are complete! In record time* for June 1st.
BULLISH: I've predicted that Foxcatcher and Interstellar will lead the nominations with 8 nods each with Gone Girl, Mr Turner and Birdman not far behind. I also have high Oscar hunch hopes for Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game.
BEARISH: Though I will readily concede that Unbroken might be a juggernaut, I'm not yet feeling it's as as sure of a thing as many pundits are likely to given the extraordinary amount of Oscar boxes it checks off on paper. My bearishness is largely because you can argue that Oscar has become less enamored of "traditional / inspirational" material in the past several years - even skipping inspirational Holocaust movies like The Book Thief -- and are quicker to embrace thornier auteurism than they have since the 70s. It's also because Angelina Jolie is a largely untested director whose first feature had a good measure of pre-release media attention only to be totally ignored once it arrived (and I don't mean in terms of Oscar nominations, though that was the case as well). That said if everyone agrees that Unbroken is quite good (nobody has to think it's great) it'll do very well for itself in the nominations. [more...]
HEDGING MY BETS: I'm both optimistic and pessimistic on some pictures. Indecision, hooray! I've predicted that Into the Woods will set a new record for most nominations without a corresponding best picture nomination in this new era of "up to 10" nominees. That era has only 5 years of history at the moment which is not much to go on but so far it's resulted in fewer films finding their way to nominations and nearly every nomination going to the 9 or 10 best picture nominees. Franky, I don't know if its even possible for anything to get a ton of nominations WITHOUT a Best Picture bid given the current hype circus, but that used to be such an interesting space for movies to inhabit. No film, for instance, is ever going to beat They Shoot Horses, Don't They (1969) which managed 9 nominations without Best Picture during the longstanding 5-wide Best Picture year. (Frankly, I'm fine with this. TSHDT needs a record to hold on to since too few people talk about it - it's only one of the greatest motion pictures you'll ever see). Four nominations seems to be the ceiling without playing in the Best Picture sandbox now (think Nine, Star Trek, and Anna Karenina) though two films share the record having bested that by one nod: Skyfall (2012) & The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011) each won 5 nominations and we can assume they just missed competing in the top category.
FOREIGN CHARTS: I have yet to start those massive foreign film submission charts we're known for so for now I'm using the recent Cannes sensations as the placeholder predictions. Of course we don't yet know if those countries will submit those movies. Cannes is only the beginning of that story, really. And it's not even the true beginning since eligibility doesnt run by calendar year for this category but by late fall to early fall in the country of origin. So some movies submitted will be quite old by the time Oscar views them and some are unseen, waiting to debut at the fall festivals.
2014 vs 2015 ??? The "which year will they arrive in" problem is never solveable. IN FACT, AS I WAS WRAPPING, WORD IS THAT MACBETH IS PLANNING ON 2014. (It's too late to adjust every chart so that film will have to wait until the next chart revision on June 22nd) But these things are always fluid. Movies will keep changing their release dates until the end of the year but for now the most divisive titles in this regard seem to be Carol and Suffragette. I've predicted Carol to arrive this year and the other to wait but I wouldn't be surprised at all to be completely backwards on this.
* Hey, some records are bad! I've been calling The Film Experience's first wave of Oscar charts "April Foolish" predictions for years. It's not like I've never run late before but this year was ridiculous. Apologies. The distended reveal led to some odd occurences, like The Homesman tanking at Cannes after I'd predicted Tommy Lee Jones (oops) but before I'd finished the Best Actress chart (fwiw, I had not planned on predicting Swank). Far From the Madding Crowd was pushed back to 2015 after I'd predicted it in Supporting Actress, and so on. So I've had to make two small adjustments to the charts as I finalized this weekend. Aside from Macbeth, I feel fairly good about this first round of chart positions but then, my record is pretty good as an early bird psychic... and actually better than most. I attribute this to my lack of trust in "looks good on paper" and 'anything could happen' sensibility. It's only toward the end of the year when my natural proclivities in this regard work against me and going with the obvious is the smart move. Later in the year I sometimes trip up and overthink from those daring 'well, this could happen' leaps... but then again, this tendency has also led to some of my most enviable 'how did he see that coming?' predictions. So you win some you lose some.