Boyhood and Birdman keep a lock at the #1 and #2 spots, respectively. Boyhood is just one point shy of a perfect score with Gold Rush Gang member Jason giving his #1 slot to Birdman instead. That film, with 41 points, logs 2nd place votes from all other members.
What a difference an AFI screening makes? After a brief tumble a few weeks ago, Selma has come roaring back and secures itself the #3 spot this month. The film’s overwhelmingly positive response (currently sitting on Metacritic with a score of 98) could position itself to upset Boyhood in this category, especially if the film ends up being the major player we think it will be. Or, this could be where the Academy recognizes Boyhood a sole win.
Foxcatcher holds on to top 5 status but with middling support. Despite a very strong box office weekend in limited release, the dreading feeling that the film will be too cold and distant for the Academy is picking up. Not the feeling Sony Pictures Classics wants going into awards season. As of now Richard and myself have dropped it from contention. The Grand Budapest Hotel is in 5th and while it’s comfortably ahead of its closest competitor it almost feels like a placeholder. I’ve dropped it from my predictions entirely (instead opting for Mr. Turner and Whiplash) and with the majority of its votes putting it in last place there is definitely room for some change there.
But who will it be? Interstellar has turned into Interfailure in a flash this season. Maybe the expectations were too high but the combination of Christopher Nolan and the success of the last year’s biggest Oscar winner and massive box office hit Gravity, this should have been a slam dunk. Complaints of a meandering and confusing screenplay are not helping its case.
After Foxcatcher, Sony Pictures Classics has two more contenders in this category that are bubbling under. Perennial nominee Mike Leigh has Mr. Turner and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash was designated Original despite being an adaptation of a short film. Does SPC have what it takes to get three nominations here? Whiplash has the type of dialogue that the screenwriting branch eats up but Mike Leigh seems to always grab that #5 slot no matter what the film and this category has more than once been his films’ only nomination.
And what to make of J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year? After a strong debut at AFI as well, this former contender here currently doesn’t have any votes but it could bounce back and get a nomination a la Margin Call. Then there’s the Clint Eastwood film American Sniper. It didn’t fare so well at AFI but with Bradley Cooper being a contender in Best Actor, I could see this play out like Flight and nab a semi-surprising nom here if Cooper makes it in.