They Shoot Oscar Prognosticators, Don't They?:
New York Film Festival Part 3

By J. Don Birnam

October 12, 2015

Slow dancin', swaying to the music...

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The New York Film Festival wrapped up and, with it, a solid fall festival circuit came to a close. Or did it? It’s hard to believe that Telluride began it all with the premiere of Steve Jobs, Spotlight, and Room, or that so many good films were screened in Toronto. The NYFF did not stay far behind, as we have discussed, and the films at the tail end of the festival (which had premiered elsewhere earlier this year) were no exception.

But while New York used to mark the sort of unofficial end to the Oscar-contender fall film festival circuit, it is a changing Oscar world we live in. We get a break of about a month, but the American Film Institute’s November film festival has become as much a staple of the Oscar race as TIFF or Telluride have been for years. We will discuss the viability of a Best Picture race when the movie only gets seen in November, but there is no denying that the AFI can be the launching pad to a nomination, with American Sniper and Selma both making premieres there last year on their way to a BP nod.

This year, highly anticipated potential players like the NFL drama Concussion, the Angelina Jolie drama By the Sea, and the Wall Street thriller The Big Short will make their bow at AFI. So the Best Picture, uh, picture, is far from complete.


Even more intriguing is that other highly-anticipated movies like Joy, The Hateful Eight, and The Revenant are not planning, as of now, any such bow.

But I digress, as the last batch of NYFF films begs to be handicapped. In any case, we will keep you updated on these developments here, on Twitter, and on Instagram.

Brooklyn: This Year’s Whiplash

Premiering way back in Sundance, Brooklyn, like last year indie favorite Whiplash, has a serious shot of major damage at the Academy Awards. But the comparisons to the music-school thriller end there. Brooklyn is a much slower paced, deliberate, emotional and at times nostalgic, at times forward looking piece. It tells the story of a young Irish immigrant woman in the 1950s (i.e., not the usual time period you’d expect) as she struggles to cope with separation from her native land, assimilation into the immigrant culture of Brooklyn, and deciding in between the two.

Saoirse Ronan, a surefire bet for a nomination in an admittedly crowded field, delivers a steady performance, hitting the right notes in the right moments, with the correct amount of stoicism, sadness, and exuberance sprinkled throughout. Solid tech elements round out the exquisite production, from the costumes to the soundtrack and art direction, all of which have the nostalgic but hopeful look of the movie. It is fascinating to see how two movies set in the same time period, Brooklyn and Bridge of Spies, can use art direction and cinematography so effectively, to convey completely different feelings. Whereas Bridge is tense, serious, and even dark, Brooklyn is brooding, heartfelt, and sincere. The setting goes a long way in conveying it.

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