Roadside Attractions is trying the tactic that worked for Sony Picture Classics with “Frozen River” in 2008 (Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay bids for Melissa Leo and writer/director Courtney Hunt respectively) and Summit with 2011’s “A Better Life” (Best Actor nod for Demian Bechir). Last year, the Weinstein Company was first out of the gate with the Gallic comedy “The Intouchables” but came up empty.
Buoyed by boffo box office ($28 million domestically) and great scores at both review aggregators — 97 with the top critics at Rotten Tomatoes and 76 on Meta Critic — the picture could gain traction among academy members. Nichols is a well-respected writer/director who came thisclose to Oscar attention in 2011 with “Take Shelter.” He is a particularly strong possibility in the Original Screenplay category.
The studio is touting the red-hot Matthew McConaughey — who plays the title character of a fugitive aided by two teenagers — as a supporting player so as not to interfere with his campaign in lead for Focus Feature’s “Dallas Buyers Club.” Roadside has its own top contender for Best Actor with Robert Redford in “All is Lost” which can be found in theaters as of Oct. 18.
Remember, to reap a Best Picture bid a film has to be ranked first by just a small percentage of Oscar voters. Since the academy expanded the roster to up to 10 contenders in 2009, smaller fare has faired well with at least one such film making the cut each year (“Precious,” 2009; “Winter’s Bone,” 2010; “The Tree of Life,” 2011; and “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” 2012).
Will “Mud” be this year’s indie darling to be embraced by the mainstream motion picture academy?
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