A couple of interesting developments have surfaced in the past 24 hours with regards to the current awards race. While you may be saying, “Adam, it’s September, the awards race is still months away,” I’d counter by pointing out that the fall film festivals traditionally signal the start of the very long Oscar season—by this time last year, critics were already buzzing after the debuts of 12 Years a Slave and Gravity on the festival circuit. I provided live Oscar Beat updates from TIFF just last week, but now we’ve got a couple of news-y bits of awards content to attend to. Firstly, IFC Films has opted to submit Patricia Arquette in the Best Supporting Actress category for Boyhood instead of Best Actress, greatly increasing her chances of winning.
And secondly, A24 Films has officially set director J.C. Chandor’s highly anticipated All Is Lost follow-up A Most Violent Year for limited release on December 31st, crashing the awards race with an Oscar-qualifying run. Much more after the jump.
While Richard Linklater’s groundbreaking Boyhood is most certainly a serious contender in a number of categories (as well as an early favorite for Best Picture), the film’s acting chances have been a bit of a question mark. Next to newcomer Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette has the biggest and most dynamic arc in the film, but there was concern over which category she may fall into. She could have easily been slotted into either Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress, but IFC Films has now formally decided to submit Arquette’s performance for consideration in the Best Supporting Actress category.
This is a very smart move on IFC’s part, especially since Arquette may have suffered from a lack of screen time in contrast to the other Best Actress candidates. Moreover, the Best Supporting Actress category is regularly a thin field thanks to the fact that Hollywood writes so few solid supporting roles for women, so Arquette has a genuine shot at winning the trophy.
At this early stage, the other major contenders I see vying for Best Supporting Actress consideration are Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game, possibly Laura Dern for Wild, and then a few other question marks for films that have yet to be seen. Jessica Chastain is a possibility for Interstellar depending on the size of that role, Katherine Waterston is another possibility for Paul Thomas Anderson’s enigmatic Inherent Vice, and there’s also Emma Stone in Birdman, Carmen Ejogo in Selma, and maybe even Emily Blunt or Meryl Streep for Into the Woods (though Streep may go Lead for that Disney musical). Again, it’s a fairly thin field, but Arquette is undoubtedly the early frontrunner at the moment.
Another piece of exciting Oscar news is the slight surprise that A24 Films will be releasing A Most Violent Year in New York and Los Angeles on December 31st. There had been much speculation over whether the film would be a 2014 or 2015 release, especially after it skipped all the festivals, but the release date announcement and unveiling of the fantastic teaser trailer have launched the pic into the awards race.
Though Chandor didn’t end up getting a ton of Oscar love for last year’s critical darling All Is Lost, his new film A Most Violent Year features a meaty, period-set premise and dual lead performances from two of the best in the business: Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. The story takes place in the record-breakingly violent 1981, and revolves around an American immigrant and his wife trying to expand their business in New York. There are shades of a sweeping crime drama to be found in the trailer, and the performances from Isaac and Chastain look to be fantastic.
You have to go back to 2004 to find a film released after November that won Best Picture so the statistics are working against A Most Violent Year, but if the dark drama strikes a chord with critics and Academy members, I could see it picking up some serious nominations. There’s a lot still unknown about the pic thus far, but it’s certainly one to keep an eye on as the race moves forward. Until next time, folks.
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