They Shoot Oscar Prognosticators, Don’t They?
The New York Film Festival and the Waiting Game
By J. Don Birnam
October 16, 2014
The New York Film Festival, the last major fest of the pre-awards season, has come and gone, and we are no closer to gaining true insight into this year’s Best Picture race. Today I’ll talk about some films that I saw at the Lincoln Center, and what I think they mean for this year’s awards races. The bottom line is that, contrary to my early expectations, it is arguable that Boyhood is currently at the front of the Best Picture pack.
Please note that most of the reviews of the movies that follow, while brief, may contain some spoilers.
Gone Girl: Gone Chances?
The biggest story to come out of New York was undoubtedly Dave Fincher’s adaption of the Gillian Flynn cult hit Gone Girl. Starring a stunning Rosamund Pike and a well-cast Ben Affleck, the movie portends to be a narrative of the events surrounding the mysterious disappearance of Pike’s character, but packs a psychological and cultural punch that is much more profound than that pedestrian plot summary suggests. Featuring Fincher’s signature moodiness and happy wallowing in the dark vicissitudes of the human soul, Gone Girl is one part media critique and two parts social commentary about marriage and relationships, mixed with a dash and a sprinkle of sarcasm, wit, and ridiculousness.
More: the movie was well received by the New York crowd and almost universally acclaimed by critics, and since its nationwide release two weeks ago it has done well with audiences. You would think that this all combines to form a good Oscar recipe, but you’d be wrong. Most Oscar pundits now predict, and I agree, that Gone Girl’s chances with the Academy are close to nil. And the reason for this was obvious from before the movie was seen, as I predicted in an earlier column. Fincher’s no-prisoners style of movie making is simply never going to be well-received by the facile Oscar voters. To that, add the fact that Gone Girl, although in my view a smart and sharp critique of modern American relationships, can admittedly be dismissed as a too-insane-to-be-taken-seriously piece. That is what the Oscar bloggers have seen it as, all but dooming its chances.
Although a groundswell of critical awards early on could save its chances at a Best Picture nomination, Best Director seems out of the question at this stage, thus dooming its overall chances. Still, a Best Actress nod seems assured and is most deserved, as are likely a nod to Gillian Flynn for adapting her own novel and perhaps another nod to Fincher collaborator Trent Reznor for penning the score.