Alas I have no Oscar Trivia involving the number 55 to parcel out on this occassion but it's an important day to mark nonetheless. Oscar ballots fly out to the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences today (Monday, December 29th) so consider this coming week the buzz freeze. Whatever's happening now is the last minute push.
Many voters have already made up their minds of course but it's up to the campaigns to keep the names and titles of those in the hunt ever present so they don't slip the mind when it comes time to fill out those ballots. This weekend's box office holiday festivities brought coveted attention to Into the Woods and Unbroken (both probably on the Best Picture bubble) and to a lesser degree to Selma (which feels like a sure thing despite its late start) and American Sniper. But other earlier releases have already made their cases. Only A Most Violent Year (with a hugely entertaining performance by Jessica Chastain) and the foreign film hopeful Leviathan have yet to open and are risking New Year's Eve releases.
Though there's a place for advocacy in film-blogging we do enough of it here that we shouldn't press our luck by doing it again today. We only ask that any AMPAS member who has stumbled upon this message watch three more screeners before returning their ballots. Carve out six more hours, you can do it. Especially if you're not quite satisfied with your ballot.
And try this nifty trick: Glance over your choices for your branch category and for Best Picture. Are any of the names or titles you've scribbed down simply from power of suggestion - because you've heard it over and over again? If you're looking at the name and you don't feel any passion, chuck it. Vote your heart. Or if you're stumped check out the Oscar charts and consider a longer shot that you totally loved. The only way those triumphs ever get nominated is if the passion vote turns out. It's just like a real election in that way.
I love what James Marsh, the director of The Theory of Everything told me about his ballot (read the interview)
I take it quite seriously. I do indeed evaluate. You can separate technical virtuosity in a film that doesn’t necessarily cohere for you as a movie.
It’s both a pleasure and a duty that should be done carefully and properly. It’s an honor to be an Academy member. And should be one where you meet your responsibilities and not in a cavalier way.
P.S. If you're not lucky enough to have a ballot, let's play the game that the gurus of gold just played (they stumped for Nightcrawler en masse) and suggest three final screeners that each voter should watch before returning their ballot. Go!