‘Unbroken’: Last Oscars mystery will soon be solved

On Sunday and Monday, media pundits will see the last of the major Oscar contenders – “Unbroken” – and we will finally have a good sense of the race.

Currently, the 26 Oscarologists at Gold Derby are thus split on what will win Best Picture: 14 for “Boyhood,” 7 for “Unbroken,” 3 for “Selma” and 2 for “Birdman.”

Unbroken” could soon jump ahead based upon its pedigree, which makes it look like the ultimate made-for-Oscars movie. Like “12 Years a Slave” and “A Beautiful Mind,” it tells the real-life story of someone who triumphs over extreme adversity – in this case Louie Zamperini, a former Olympic track star who survives a plane crash, gets lost at sea for 47 days and then endures two and a half years locked up in Japanese POW camps during World War II.

The fact that it’s directed by past Oscar champ Angelina Jolie (“Girl, Interrupted”) gives the film sex appeal, but makes it attractive for another reason, too. Hollywood is eager to recognize more female directors now that Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) became the first to snatch the helmer’s trophy. However, Jolie competes against another notable female this year, of course — Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) – and many Hollywood insiders are skeptical that Jolie has the chops after she failed behind the camera with “In the Land of Blood and Honey” a few years ago.

See Oscar rankings created when the Experts’ predictions are combined

But Universal Studio execs seem convinced that Jolie succeeds this time with “Unbroken.” They’re worried about two other things instead. “Unbroken” is brutally violent (just like the book upon which it was based) and it doesn’t give viewers a warm rosey glow at the end a la “The King’s Speech” or “The Artist.” Academy members like afterglows and they often don’t appreciate extreme violence.

Currently, Gold Derby’s pundits predict “Unbroken” will be nominated for 8 Oscars: Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, Music Score, Sound Editor and Sound Mixing. There’s also a good chance Jack O’Connell could be nominated for Best Actor if he pulls off an impressive performance and knocks out one of the many heavyweights already crowding that acting matchup.

So far this Oscar season I have been betting on “Unbroken” for Best Picture by default. I’m skeptical that “Boyhood” or “Birdman” can prevail. Both are terrific films that are worthy of winning, yes, but “Boyhood” doesn’t feel “important” enough and “Birdman” is too weird. Academy members don’t go for crazy stuff.

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That said, those two flicks will probably sweep the awards bestowed by the New York and Los Angeles film critics over the next 10 days. However, when “Boyhood” competes at the Oscars, it won’t have widespread support across academy branches, which is usually essential to win Best Picture. Right now Gold Derby Experts predict “Boyhood” will only nab 6 nominations: Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Editing, Supporting Actor (Ethan Hawke) and Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette),

Over the past 30 years only one film has won Best Picture with six noms: “Crash.” One film actually triumphed with fewer:  “The Departed” (5).

7 thoughts on “‘Unbroken’: Last Oscars mystery will soon be solved

  1. I think Universal is handling this correctly. They are screening it to industry first, like BAFTA, DGA etc and then to critics(even though some have already seen). Also think it’s alright to hold off reviews till people who matter actually seen it. I mean sure a review from the Australian premiere might have been helpful but I’d rather get first word from an AO Scott

  2. Unbroken is the last contender? What about American Sniper? Has it been screened or is it not a contender? I really don’t know much about this movie. I’m curious about it. Clint Eastwood directed movies are almost always a punch to the gut.

  3. Unbroken, causing considerable disdain from certain groups in Japan, making it highly political, will, in my
    opinion, sweep the Oscars. Although content was violent, the director managed to convey the human
    spirit as strong as well as forgiving. The director’s audience with the Pope certainly will convey that the
    message was well received.

  4. I think UNBROKEN SHOULD WIN AN OSCAR AS WELL AS JACK OCONNOR. THIS WAS A TRUE TO LIFE STORY. I will be disappointed if I does not win an Oscar for Actor Jack Oconnor and Film..

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