Strong critical reviews and audience applause for “Captain Phillips” mean that producer Scott Rudin (Best Picture champ “No Country for Old Men,” 2007) is now back in the Oscar derby. Last year he kept a relatively low profile (“Moonrise Kingdom“) after blitzing the contest in 2011 with “Moneyball,” “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” This year he’s also got more than one contender, too: the Coen brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
“Captain Phillips” will probably reap Oscar nominations for Best Picture, acting (Tom Hanks), directing (Paul Greengrass), adapted screenplay (Billy Ray), cinematography (Barry Ackroyd), editing (Christopher Rouse), sound editing and sound mixing. It might get nominated for music score (Henry Jackman), too. Currently, it’s ranked in ninth place for Best Picture by the Experts polled by Gold Derby. See how each pundit ranks the contenders here.
“Captain Phillips” is worthy of multiple academy salutes. It’s a taut thriller dramatizing the true 2009 story of Somali pirates seizing the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in 200 years. It fulfills these Oscar criteria usually needed to be a major threat:
* “Captain Phillips” is a real, ripped-from-the-headlines tale of a hostage drama like Best Picture nominee “Munich” (2005) and winner “Argo.” There are parallels to “The Hurt Locker” (2009) and “Zero Dark Thirty,” too, since they feature the U.S. military pitted against terrorists
* It’s the successful handiwork of an esteemed director (Greengrass) who’s been nominated for Best Director for “United 93.” Greengrass is just the kind of “kewl” helmer that the academy loves to hail.
* It stars Oscar royalty Tom Hanks (“Philadelphia,” “Forrest Gump”) in a deeply felt performance that includes the obligatory crying scene. Even better: it’s an all-out sobbing scene.
* Even though “Captain Phillips” doesn’t open in theaters until Oct. 11, Sony is already ballyhooing it big time in ads across the web. That shows strong studio confidence that should pay off in a boffo box office tally, which is crucial for Oscar success.