Oscar History

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« Her Royal Majesty, The Queen of Link | Main | Technical Difficulties »

199 Days 'til Oscar...

Not that I'm counting. I don't have one of those alternating colored construction paper link chains on my wall that I rip off every day or anything like I did when I was five while waiting for Santa. No siree. Do not have one of those. But if I did the colors would be gold leaf and red carpet. 

Mmmmm, where were we since we last spoke?

Release Date Shuffle
No press release or dropped hint or trailer dates should ever be taken at face value when it comes to release dates. These things change back and forth all the time but, at least for the moment, things are murky on a ton of titles and many of them are actressy: CarolFar From the Madding Crowd, MacBethThe Suffragette and more. And some pictures that were clearly designated as 2015 are obviously finished like Ron Howard's Heart of the Sea starring Chris Hemsworth all slimmed down so who knows what might transpire if a specific studio sees an opening. So let's talk about the stuff that's out already...

The Tiny Idiosyncratic Indies vs.  Large Mainstream Blockbusters
This summer I think you could safely argue that the big winners at the arthouse were the Polish film Ida which grossed more than last year's high profile foreign Oscar winner and Richard Linklater's critically adored 12 years in the making Boyhood. Music Box Films and IFC Films, which released the films, don't have high profile histories at pushing for Oscar nominations the way  Sony Pictures Classics and The Weinstein Co do but they should probably spend the money. If either maneuvers correctly, there will be at least one or two high profile nominations in store. This is why I wonder why more small films with Oscar potential don't try summer releases. If you have the goods and you're "small" it's better to be safely esconced at the top of the mountain when the "big" mainstream prestige films aren't even around and then defend your turf in the fall/winter rather than trying to climb up that insane awards mountain when all the 800 lb gorillas are also scaling it; more often than not they'll knock you right off by simply crushing your chances of enough media coverage for starters.

Whether or not Ida's box office bonanza results in Oscar traction I hope it keeps the lights on at Music Box offices for a long time. To understand just how huge the film has been for them some context: Ida is now second only to the French thriller Tell No One as their top grosser that doesn't star Noomi Rapace and start with the words "The Girl..." Further context: in terms of their recent memory hits Ida has now surpassed the combined grosses of the all star French comedy Potiche and the Rachel Weisz period drama The Deep Blue Sea (which got a little bit of awards traction).

Visual Effects is already a bloody battle. Can Guardians of the Galaxy win the nomination?

Response to this year's blockbusters is a bit harder to read at this early juncture since a) there are so many of them that have been solid doubles or triples but not home runs and b) mainstream blockbusters often need home runs to have voters thinking of them on par with the "serious" pictures. I can't say, for example, that Maleficent (big hit but not entirely respected) or Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy (big hits but Oscar doesn't take superheroes seriously outside of that orphaned billionaire in the batsuit) or Godzilla (divisive hit from ancient B movie franchise) are necessarily going to land tech nods but they'll probably try. The exception to all this 'solid player but not much more' business is surely Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which opened to much coin and such feverish raves you'd think it was a Martin Scorsese picture with Leonardo DiCaprio in an ape mask. But even that one is the 8th film in a 46 year old franchise that has only ever won 3 competitive Oscar nominations and one special Oscar... and 75% of those were from the 1968 original!

That's just one of the man reasons I think it's crazy that people are hoping for an Andy Serkis nomination though I'd be down for him to win a non-competitive special Oscar for pioneering a new subdivision of acting. If you missed the recent Podcast on 1973 the discussion of Linda Blair's performance led to the very relevant 2014 topic on how to judge "collaborative" work. 

I know, I know. You're all like... stop talking. Get to the updated Oscar charts. They're ALL updated, look at me finally updating!


Thoughts? Of course all this will be moot soon when the festivals shake things up with actual buzz rather than hype and some films without release dates securing distribution. We'll start on the foreign submission charts in the next couple of days since Hungary is the first to announce with the Cannes sensation "WHITE GOD" about those rampaging wild dogs.  



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Reader Comments (35)

I'd say you're missing The Interview, even if you're sceptical on the Guardians.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

"people are hoping for an Andy Serkis nomination" - are people doing this a third (?) time? he'll get nominated the day cotillard gets her follow up nomination.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

The predictions this season are so disappointing. Not because I do not agree with some of your stronger presumptions. More so that everyone seems to expect this season to be dull in the choices the Academy will actually pick.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

/3rtful - it's very early still. I imagine the festivals will shake things up in an exciting way.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Something about Amy Adams collaborating with Tim Burton has me suspecting I'll reflect fondly on her nomination for American Hustle in a few months. That's a very bad thing.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W

Oh Nathaniel, that Best Actress top-5 looks so sad... I'll bet Herzog and Kurzel will get Nicole and Marion their due third and second nominations, respectively. IF these two don't succeed, I can totally see either Meryl getting her fourth or Amy Adams winning by default (wouldn't be too shocked).

Nevertheless, I want this to be a Nicole vs Marion showdown, the two actresses working in Hollywood who can rival Binoche for versatility, range and auteur curiosity!

Apart from Nicole and Marion, this year looks sadder beyond words for Best Actress. If this ends up going the Oscar favs/bait route, will we get Meryl, Amy, Maggie, Chastain, Reese, Jones? BLAND.

AT LEAST give me a Juli Moore or a Anna Kendrick to root for!

I FORBID Swank to get in! There's no Bening in sight to steal an Oscar from, Hil, try next year!!

I'd love a lineup of...
Pike; Chastain; Kidman; Cotillard; Moore

I'm betting on...
Jones (that trailer really sold it);
Cotillard (The Power of the Fassy compels them; she won't become the new Nolan now will she? Julie Christie is already over it, so should everyone!);

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

My wish for Oscar this year: GAEL GARCIA BERNAL returning to graces in Hollywood with a first Oscar nomination. It should have come 10 years ago with that combo (Y Tu Maman/Amores Perros) or with on-fire Almodovar (Mala Educacion)...

And Rosewater sounds great on paper. I hope Jon Stewart can direct.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

And isn't it about time that Oscar Isaac is nominated?

And Joaquin Phoenix has to win one of these days, right? They've denied his brilliance THRICE already (Walk the Line, The Master, Her)!!!

For Best Actor, I'd love a 'nice to see you' lineup of first-timers Bernal and Redmayne + 'uh you can do drama too' Carell + 'we've always loved you, you weirdos' Keaton and Phoenix.

For Supporting Actress, the field is so desert that I'm starting to believe that Patricia Arquette is gonna bring it?

And you're putting Waltz way down in Sup Actor. If Amy is nominated, Waltz is too. I'd switch him for Wilkinson who I love but can't see nominated... I was gonna say I can't see Duvall in, but then again 'Get Low' was a) terrible and b) underseen; The Judge will make a ton of bucks (RDJ factor) and if it's mildly good... RDJ and Duvall can both get in. They do love their serious dramas, when done right.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

If this is how things are still shaking out after festivals, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Ron Howard or Clint Eastwood (whose American Sniper, with Bradley Cooper, will surely be through post production any week now) try to parachute into the season.

Of course, there's also Michael Mann's new movie, which by all accounts doesn't sound like an award chaser, but more of a Lone Survivor post-Christmas guy movie commercial thingy. But I still want Mann to win an Oscar, so I'm holding out hope it's something special.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Jorge -- i agree that best actress looks dire but when you eliminate everyone who still doesn't have a distributor or isn't making any noise at all about when they're going to actually come out you have only a couple of handfuls of people left. anyway Nicole & Marion don't have release dates and Nicole doesn't even have a distributor so your wish is complicated at this juncture.

Roark -- yeah, whenever fields seem slim the underdogs should fight hard to become totally thought of as contenders before someone last minute who needs no rev up time swoops in.

Hayden - lol.

August 7, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

So glad to finally see a site covering the Foreign Language Film race. Admittedly there are few buzzed titles at this early point, but for now we share four of the same five nominees.

I think that Mommy and White God are likely to be Executive Committee picks and Two Days, One Night and Ida could be General Committee picks. My fifth predicted nominee is Italy's Human Capital which seems immensely popular in Europe. The Wonders also sounds like a possible representative.

I'm not predicting Leviathan because it seems highly, highly unlikely that a Russian government-run committee would select a film that is critical of that government. I also can't imagine many of the old fogies of the FL branch having the patience for Winter Sleep. Or the Executive Committee members, for that matter.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Do we even know if Michelle Williams's Suite Francaise is coming out this year? There's been absolutely zero talk about that film. It may be a dud.

I'm thinking Carol is coming out next year and probably Queen of the Desert, although I can easily see a qualifying Macbeth run this year. Hopefully Weinstein won't muck up the release of it like he did Coriolanus a few years ago.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

So yeah that Best Actress field looks dire. But on the bright side, give your top 10 contenders, I'm more excited than usual about Best Supporting Actor. That category is usually such a slog, but we could end up with an interesting set this year.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

Can't you see PSH landing a posthumous nomination for A Most Wanted Man? It's not even a sentimental nod, it's simply great work from a very acclaimed actor. If critics go behind it, I can see it happening.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Supporting Actor: On paper, I'd probably go for Tim Roth (the Dixie-crat George Wallace) myself.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I'm holding my breath for Pike. I like her and the source material. I worry because I don't think the character is sympathetic. She falls in a morally questionable area, far from heroic. It's feels rare for these types of roles to land a nom in Best Actress. Here's to hoping Pike delivers a deeply nuanced performance and nails the part of the exceedingly complex Amazing (Ozark) Amy Elliott Dunne.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

Best Actress - hmm. Based on the trailers (so it must be true), Reese and Felicity's prospects just plummeted. I expect both of those films to be awful at this point and expect their buzz to die upon arrival.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

+in your write-up of James Marsh as potential Best Director: "He's already won an Oscar albeit not for a narrative feature. How is he with actors?".
Didn't you see The King, brilliant film, with a chilling Gael García Bernal, a heartbreaking Pell James, and a terrific Wlliam Hurt. Oh yeah, he's good with actors.

+Steve Carrell will get the Oscar, it's the easiest prediction since DDL for Lincoln or Jamie Foxx for Ray.

+Birdman... will get zero nominations. Seriously, The Academy is not going to nominate a film where a gigantic (and badly drawn) CGI bird sits on top of a building and starts spewing fire... Even though it's all in his head, it's too fucking silly.

BTW: Will Nicole Kidman win her first Razzie for Grace Of Monaco?

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterUlrich

volvagia -tim roth is a good suggestion. I should've thought of him.

Ulrich - no, i did not see The King. And I absolutely disagree on Birdman. The Academy can handle the bizarre if its pulled off with aplomb (like Mulholland Dr, Being John Malkovich, Moulin Rouge)

August 7, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I'm still sort of wondering if they'll try to push Carell supporting and Tatum lead under the philosophy that Carell would have the win in the bag in the supporting category. I heard a rumor back during Cannes that they hadn't decided on the category placement for ANY of the three leads, so I guess they're just waiting to scope out the competition. If the Best Actor field gets crowded, I would not put it past them to decide that Carell is going supporting to ensure him a victory.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

I thought someone may have pointed this out already Far from the Madding Crowd is being released next May. Like Belle was this year.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

Looking to be a great year.

Out of curiosity, where did you find that A Most Violent Year release date?

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHarry Lime

How close have you come in the past with these predictions? Just asking because history tells us it can all go sideways with one bad opening.

The only sure things I see on your chart are Streep, Chastain and perhaps Spall.

So looking forward to How to get away with Murder. Rhimes series are usually good the first season. Then they jump the shark.

August 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

All great choices Nathaniel. But let me recommend a movie that could be an Oscar contender "The Toy Soldiers" it just got distribution deal hits theaters Nov 14. I had the pleasure of seeing it at a festival and I'm telling you it will be an Oscar contender all the performances are Oscar worthy, especially that of Constance Brennerman she steals the whole movie I think she will get some consideration for Best Supporting Actress

August 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

Henry -- i'm pretty good at Oscar predicting, hence the career :) bu, you'ret totally right: things change very fast. Most of the time it's hunches until the movies arrive and then it's both more complicated (politics, media attention, reps, parties,precursors, critics, box office, etcetera) and somewhat easier (narrower field)

but, there are no sure things this early apart from probably Visual Effects nods for Dawn of the Apes

August 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The Judge looks so terrible, but you're probably right to predict a nomination for Duvall. Certain Academy voters will eat that up. Still, how great would it be to see Ethan Hawke, JK Simmons or Albert Brooks take that instead?

August 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I'm wondering how it will play out with Into The Woods. Brilliant musical on the stage but translating to the movie screen has me worried.

I can't recall an Oscar nomination for a role without the character having a name (like the Baker's Wife) - has that ever happened?

August 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEddie

Don't the distributors see this barren desert in best actress? Come one move up one of these 2015 titles and shake things up. Or hopefully there's a big surprise for us at Telluride or Toronto... otherwise snooze.

August 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

Eddie -- the emcee in Cabaret doesn't have a name. i think there are probably others but it is rare. as is characters existing without names :)

August 8, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

cal roth...I agree with you about a posthumous nomination for PSH, but I doubt that it will happen. He is, however, at least as worthy of one as Heath Ledger was.

Nat...I really appreciate your focus on the Foreign-language race. (Now that Guy Lodge is gone from In Contention, you're just about the only blogger who really take note of the choices as they come in.) I agree that Mommy is likely to be the Canadian choice, as the Canadian selection committee tends to go for films which have won big at major international festivals, and the Jury Prize from Cannes is just too big to ignore. (In case you weren't aware, Roadside Attractions has picked up the US rights to Mommy, though I don't know when they'll be releasing it south of the border.)

I, too, hope that Poland chooses Ida, in which case I'd be flabbergasted if it didn't receive a nomination.

August 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

cal & bill -- my feeling about posthumous nominations is that they're extremely rare and they invariably* come from movies with multiple nominations -- so the movie itself has to also be popular with voters. I can't see people talking about that movie at the end of the year.

*ok one time it happened without the movie being popular but that was in 1929. Jeanne Eagels for The Letter

August 8, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Actually Nathaniel, Turkey was the first country not Hungary. The Turkish selection selected "Winter Sleep" two days before Hungary


August 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterleon

Not that I know anything (cough cough), but if Far From the Maddening Crowd were bumped to 2014, I think Carey Mulligan could be in contention for Best Actress. Crossing my fingers...

August 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I'm honestly worried (and certain) that "The Lego Movie" will probably be forgotten for anything out of Animated Feature (and maybe, Song)... when it certainly deserves noms at the very least for Adapted Screenplay ("based upon Lego blocks"? lol!) and SPECIALLY Art Direction and Set Decoration...

Honestly, can we remember a so much mind-blowing achievement in Art Direction, than The Lego Movie? It depends on imaginative art direction, straight to the plot itself! Seen the film several times and I am still in awe and finding more and more details...

August 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

Right now I'm just rooting for Patricia Arquette...all the way to the podium, even.

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

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