They Shoot Oscar Prognosticators, Don't They?

The Mid-Year State of the 2015 Oscar Race

By J. Don Birnam

August 5, 2015

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Birdman, Boyhood, Whiplash, The Grand Budapest Hotel... how long ago it seems that those words were endlessly swirling in our brains as part of the alphabet soup/mesh of the Oscar season. Five full months (and counting) after the Kodak Theater ceremony, it seems impossible to believe that we are about to begin the six month journey all over again.

But here we are on the cusp of the fall film festival season, the now unofficial/official beginning of the awards season.

Slogging through such a laborious and at times even tedious modern-day Academy Awards race requires a lot of endurance, so I hope for that endurance’s sake that you have not paid any attention to awards chatter since February 23rd. The point of today is to catch up on what you may have missed (not much) and look forward only a bit to what lies ahead (a hell of a lot).

The State of the Technical Races

It has become a trend that summer blockbusters receive a good bulk of the below-the-line races, even if they ultimately end up losing all of them to a more “prestigious” film. This year should be no exception, so expect the immensely popular Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World to land anywhere between one to three nods apiece for visual effects and sound. I find it hard to fathom the Academy completely ignoring what is set to become one of the highest grossing films of all time; then again, they may well do just that.

Also in the technical race is perhaps the shoo-in Animated Feature Film for the immensely popular Inside Out. Of the remaining animated movies to be released this year, none seems to even have a prayer of a chance to steal this one, and Pixar is poised to once again reign supreme here.

And another technical race in which not only the nomination but the win seems assured is the Documentary Feature category, which appears to be all but locked and sealed for the immensely popular The Wolfpack, the (somewhat contrived) story of a family held captive by their father for most of their lives in their Brooklyn apartment.


The State of the Acting Races

When it comes to acting, the field is equally thin. But this has not stopped some from declaring certain acting races over. The highly anticipated Todd Haynes drama Carol was seen at Cannes and took critics by storm, with nominations and possible wins for Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in the tea leaves.

But sticking to movies that have been released in theaters, it is clear that there are only a handful of serious contenders for nominations. Most crowded, shockingly enough, appears to be Best Supporting Actress, a normally thin category. In first place right now is Kristen Stewart for her portrayal of the assistant in the problematic Clouds of Sils Maria. The movie was actually released in Toronto last year but only found its way into theaters this year, and then netted Stewart the top acting prize in Cannes, the first ever for an American actress. I personally found her performance flat and undeserving, but perhaps critics are rewarding her for a not-completely-ridiculously-bad performance? Regardless of my feelings, it is clear that she is currently the front-runner here, with no obvious challenger...

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