Summer blockbuster season ends and immediately the masses are turning their heads to the Oscars. Of course, five months is a long time to wait for the nominations, but the ride to those nominations becomes half of the fun of this time of year. Instead of audiences racing to their local theater chains to catch the latest major motion picture blockbusters like “Transformers” or “Guardians Of The Galaxy”, September-January sees the audiences flocking to the art-house theaters where most of the Oscar nominated pieces will land, at least right away. The battle I begin around this time of year is balancing the films I really want to see with the ones that I feel will get nominated and that I will see when they are nominated on the 15th of January. Last year marked the most films I had already seen that were eventually nominated and that can sadly lead to some boring, uninspiring viewings. But that is part of the journey.
This is year is already abuzz with high profile features, performances, and arguments over what deserves to land an Oscar nod and what does not. “Whiplash”, “Foxcatcher”, and “Birdman” are three films that everyone has been raving about, both for quality of picture and quality of performances. J.K. Simmons lands on the radar as the eccentric music teacher while Steve Carrell plays a creepy wrestling coach, and Michael Keaton goes even crazier as washed up actor reminiscing about his previous roles, which might just hit too close to home. Then there are films like “Unbroken”, “Interstellar”, and “Inherent Vice” which hardly anyone has seen, but which everyone feels like could be the next big thing. Angelina Jolie, Christopher Nolan, and Paul Thomas Anderson are definitely names you could be seeing until the Best Director moniker and if their films open to meet the huge expectations placed on them it will almost be a guarantee.
Next comes the films that have been out for awhile or have released just recently that are teetering for most critics. “Boyhood” is at the top of that list with everyone either praising it or approaching it with lukewarm resolve. We can all agree it was a massive undertaking to produce an independent film over 12 years, but just because it shows ambition does not make it one of the best films of the year. Obviously, no one will be mad if it does get nominated and for that, it probably will. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is a film that has been out for quite awhile now and with all of Wes Anderson’s previous nominations, people are at least expecting this to get a writing nod, which is most likely. And the last polarizing film that comes to mind is “Gone Girl”, which has the mass appeal and the more than popular David Fincher behind it, but critics do not seem to be flocking to it like many thought that would. Some critics are even stating to write it off completely. And again, no one will know for sure until we are on the other side of the end-of-the-year Oscar season.
As we embark on this journey for the next few months, eventually leading up the 39 day challenge of seeing every nominated film, we will enjoy a hearth of well crafted films that may or may not be everything they are cracked up to be. And it will take the collective for anyone to come up with a consensus. There are a few films that I have already seen that have come with some Oscar hype, like “Fury” starring Brad Pitt and “Nightcrawler” starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Both were entertaining and very solid films, both with distinct material and excellent performances, but in the vacuum that is my own personal opinion on these films, I would not guess them to be Oscar worthy in any degree, yet when they are released they could easily take the awards by storm. Personally, I will take in as many films as I can and form my own opinions and by the time we reach the challenge, I will be taking part in my guesses as to what will win or lose.
Within the next few weeks, some shortlists will likely be released, with the Foreign Language Submission list coming up after this introductory post. Eventually the studios will begin to release their awards websites that list what they consider their films with the most potential for being nominated and each role that is eligible for a nomination. Following that, as the year end draws near, the critics “best of” lists will begin to drop and a clearer image of what the Oscar nominations could potentially be will form. Oscar pools will heat up the nominations are announced early on the morning of the 15th and from their on, the gunshot will be fired and we will be off, with daily posts of the films that I saw that day. And with a shorter time period this year, depending on how many films are nominated, this could get interesting.
And so it begins…