Top 10 Film Industry Stories of 2004: #7: Few Clear-Cut Awards Favorites Emerge Before Holidays

By Stephanie DeGateo

December 28, 2004

All these Oscars go to Seed of Chucky if nothing better comes out.

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The biggest buzz swirling around the Oscars this year is that there is no real buzz swirling around any one movie or actor. As the end of the year approaches, no clear front-runner has emerged as a shoo-in for the coveted Oscar nominations, except Jamie Foxx for his star turn as Ray Charles in Ray. Beyond Foxx, it’s a crapshoot as to who else will hear their names on nomination morning.

Sure, Johnny Depp and Paul Giamatti are likely nominees, but in this year, other than Foxx, there are no sure-fire favorites for acting nominations, like a Nicole Kidman for The Hours or Sean Penn for Mystic River. And the best picture category is even more wide open. Last year it was clear that it was the year of Return of the King; the previous year, Chicago was a lock for a bunch of nominations. This year, no picture is assured of a nomination, not even critical favorite Sideways.

But in this wide-open year, movies like Sideways and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind may benefit the most. With few big studio releases capturing the voters’ imagination, smaller, independent films, even one released as early as Eternal Sunshine, may nudge out their bigger budget counterparts. And it may open the doors for non-traditional nominations, like a documentary (Fahrenheit 9/11) or an animated film (The Incredibles) to land a coveted spot.

How did it get to be this way? Big-budget epics that normally attract Oscar buzz such as Alexander bombed; Miramax decided to push only Finding Neverland, a film that is decidedly Oscar-friendly fare, and moved its other planned Oscar movie, Proof, with Gwenyth Paltrow to 2005. Films likely to gain some nods, like Closer and The Aviator, did not get the reviews they may need to be nomination tour de forces.

The real winners in all of this are those who handicap and follow the Oscars and their nominees. There will be genuine surprise when the nominees are read. Heck, even Jamie Foxx should be on the edge of his seat. After all, he is one of about a dozen contenders in a very wide open Best Supporting Actor category for his work in Collateral.



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