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Oscar Watching: FOXCATCHER for the Win?

Last time I checked in, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave had just taken best picture, best supporting actress for Lupita Nyong’o, and best adapted screenplay for John Ridley. Of course, quite a bit has changed since then; it’s time to look ahead to this year’s Oscars, but not without briefly recapping what’s already happened that might factor into the race.

The acclaim for Richard Linklater’s Boyhood didn’t surprise too many of us, but its (relative) box-office success wasn’t quite as expected. It’s arguably the only film that’s already hit U.S. theaters that has a legitimate shot at breaking into the big races. (Sorry, Grand Budapest Hotel.) We’re talking picture, director, supporting actress for Patricia Arquette, supporting actor for Ethan Hawke, original screenplay for Linklater, and (maybe) actor for Ellar Coltrane if that category thins out before year’s end.

However, Boyhood isn’t the only awards hopeful that’s screened, as both Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher and Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner – both to be distributed by Sony Pictures Classics later this year – played at Cannes to strong reception. The former film took the fest’s prize for best director; character actor Timothy Spall won best actor at the festival.

Other than that, we have another few weeks of presumed duds to endure before a plethora of presumed quality films (read: awards-oriented titles) drops. Let the premature speculation begin.

For what it’s worth, here‘s my prediction accuracy based on my picks from around this time last year:
Picture: 4/9
Director 3/5
Actress: 4/5
Actor: 3/5
Supporting Actress: 0/5
Supporting Actor: 1/5
Original Screenplay: 1/5
Adapted Screenplay: 1/5

Around this time last year, based on percentages, my best projections were in the actress race, followed by my actor and director picks, then the best picture lineup, with the rest of my projections being less than commendable. Of course, Sony’s bumping-back of Foxcatcher (which, again, looks like the early front-runner) and my admittedly strange allegiance to WWII drama The Railway Man – which was in distributor limbo at the time, by the way – had a lot to do with it.

Now, here’s my prediction accuracy based on my 11th-hour (read: day before the nominations announcement) picks:
Picture: 9/9
Director: 3/5
Actress: 4/5 – This was my first off year since 2009, by the way; I’d gone 5/5 in this category for the previous three years.
Actor: 4/5
Supporting Actress: 4/5
Supporting Actor: 4/5
Original Screenplay: 4/5
Adapted Screenplay: 5/5

So, by the end of the last awards season, my picks were obviously more accurate than my late-summer predictions. I predicted all nine nominees for best picture – and that there would be nine nominees (but that’s a given at this point) – and all five nominees for adapted screenplay. I also knew that the motion-picture academy’s lineup for best actress wouldn’t consist only of previous winners, and while my Adèle Exarchopoulos pick may have been (way) off, I did predict that Emma Thompson would miss out on a nomination. What’s more, I predicted that the top eight categories (picture, director, acting, writing) would shut out Saving Mr. Banks entirely. Lastly, for myriad reasons, I was always skeptical of Robert Redford’s chances for All is Lost – even when many said he was practically a lock and predicted him to win.

But let’s get back to 2014. I’m only predicting films set for U.S. distribution for nominations, but my overall lists still include films that might lack U.S. distribution at the moment. And in the name of shameless self-promo, you can check out more detailed Oscar musings over at my blog, Awards and Such. Keep in mind that my predictions there and on Screen Invasion might differ, given that I will update both at different times – I’ll update my Screen Invasion picks once a week; I’ll most likely update my blog picks at different intervals.

The big contenders of the year are…

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The Author

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren loves the wonderful world of film and all that comes with it. He specifically loves long takes, fabulous actresses, and keeping up with the Oscar season - even when it's far too early to make sense of anything.