Oscar nominations, out Jan. 15, are just over three weeks away.

The Race

The big movie news this week relates to a little film called The Interview and a little country called North Korea. Luckily, The Interview’s Oscar hopes were nonexistent, so I have nothing more to add.

It’s been a fairly slow week. With Golden Globe, Critics Choice and SAG nominations already out, the Oscar race is very much on hold. Low-importance critics awards are trickling in (Can you believe that Gone Girl won the Nevada Film Critics Society award for Best Film? Probably.) and the next major group to announce nominations is the American Cinema Editors (ACE) in early January. The best thing to do in the upcoming week is to catch up on the movies you’ve been meaning to seen and to monitor the Rotten Tomatoes scores of three movies out on Christmas with Oscar hopes: Selma, Unbroken and Into the Woods. (Of the 45 reviews counted for Into the Woods, 31 were “fresh” and 14 were wrong.)

Spotlight on Boyhood

Since it premiered at Sundance, Boyhood has been the little movie that could. It was filmed with the same actors over the course of 12 years, and it chronicles the childhood of a boy (named Mason) until he starts college. More a cinematic achievement or experience than a movie, Boyhood had a budget of just $4 million and has since made $43 million. (The Academy loves small films that make a big impact.) Boyhood has met near-universal critical acclaim (starting off the season winning the New York Film Critics Circle award and picking up many, many more critics awards along the way), and it should be considered the frontrunner for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress.

Spotlight on Jennifer Aniston

On Thursday, Aniston won the first film-acting prize of her career at the People Magazine Awards, where she was received the Movie Performance of the Year Award (Actress) for Cake. I remember first hearing about Aniston as an Oscar contender in late November and rolling my eyes. As Sasha Stone said, “I’m not seeing any wiggle room here for Aniston” given the other strong contenders in the race and the mixed reception the film received. Flash forward to now. Aniston received Golden Globe, Critics Choice and SAG nominations, has been interviewed by the Carpetbagger and has even been considered a threat for the top prize. But, according to Scott Feinberg, “Aniston fits two of the three criteria of being ‘endangered’: She’s up for a little-seen movie (without a major distributor) and she’s trying to be seen in a different light (dramatic rather than comedic). The good news for her is that she doesn’t face much competition and she seems willing to campaign hard.” It remains to be seen whether she will wake up pleased on Jan. 15, but I think for now it’s safe to assume that she will.

Spotlight on Nightcrawler and Jake Gyllenhaal

Another film with growing Oscar chances is Nightcrawler. It’s exploded virtually out of nowhere in the Best Picture and Best Actor races over the past three weeks. According to Wikipedia, it is a “neo-noir crime thriller” about “a driven young man who begins shooting footage of accidents and crimes in Los Angeles to sell to news channels.” It is very high on my list of movies to see. Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays the leading man, has received Golden Globe, Critics Choice and SAG nominations, pushing out a number of other actors (such as Bradley Cooper in American Sniper and Timothy Spall in Mr. Turner) who were once considered locks or good bets. Like Aniston, there’s a chance that it won’t be enough (just ask Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips, Emma Thompson for Saving Mr. Banks and Daniel Bruhl for Rush), but there is an even larger one that Gyllenhaal will earn his second Oscar nomination.

Other News

  • Screeners: A really interesting article in the Hollywood Reporter analyzes different tactics studios use while sending out movie screeners to potential voters. Some films, like Frozen River (2008), Animal Kingdom (2010) and A Better Life (2011) and this year’s Snowpiercer, send out screeners very early on in the race in the hopes that they will be seen at all. Others, like The Hurt Locker (2009) and this year’sBirdman and Wild, are not sending out screenings until quite late in order to encourage voters to see the film in theaters.
  • Aaron Sorkin: A plausibly misogynistic email from the Oscar winner was unveiled in the Sony hack. He told Maureen Dowd that in recent years, “the guy who wins the Oscar for Best Actor has a much higher bar to clear than the woman who wins Best Actress” and that “Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep can play with the boys but there just aren’t that many tour-de-force roles out there for women.” To which Eliana Dockterman responds, “Write one yourself.”
  • Black List: According to the Washington Post, the 10th annual list of top unproduced scripts was announced last week, “and the winner was, for the first time, a woman. Kristina Lauren Anderson received 51 votes for her script about Catherine the Great.” If that isn’t a Jennifer Lawrence vehicle, then nothing is.
  • Writer’s Guild: Paul Haggis will be honored with the Ian McClellan Hunter Award for Career Achievement in early 2015. According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Haggis is the only person in Oscar history to have written back-to-back best picture winners in 2005’s Million Dollar Baby and 2006’s Crash.”
  • Harry Potter: OK, to be fair, this is not Oscars-related, but this is a big moment in my life. Last week, J.K. Rowling announced something that I have known for years: There is a Jew at Hogwarts, and he is a Ravenclaw named Anthony Goldstein. (I always believed in you Anthony! Happy Hanukkah!)



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