Why I predict ‘Interstellar’ will win Best Picture at the Oscars

For now, I’m going out on a limb with “Interstellar” as my frontrunner to win the Oscar for Best Picture because I walked out of last week’s screening thinking I’ve finally seen something that feels like a possible winner, and here’s why.

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Interstellar” has a big name director who has built up an Oscar IOU (Christopher Nolan has never even been nominated for directing despite frequent acclaim). It has big Oscar-friendly stars who will do great on the campaign trail (including recent champs Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway), and it might get tons of love from the steak-eaters in the academy’s tech branches. Sure it’s sci-fi, but it’s not space opera (aliens and ray guns and whatnot). It’s got its feet planted in some real scienific theory (though it undoubtedly takes liberties), and it’s got an environmentalist bent (take care of the Earth, or it will turn on mankind).

And as much as I adored “12 Years a Slave,” I’m pretty sure the only reason a sci-fi movie didn’t win last year was white guilt, so the genre isn’t a complete deal-breaker.

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Also, I’m not so sure about the other contenders. They’ve done the Clint Eastwood thing a bunch of times before, so not sure they’ll give him Best Picture again for “American Sniper” even if it’s great. “Unbroken” could be a big player, or it could be this year’s “War Horse.” “Selma” is also a big question mark. “The Imitation Game” feels important, but I don’t see it getting a directing nomination for a relative unknown like Morten Tyldum who isn’t showy behind the camera. “Birdman” is great, but it seems too weird for the win. “Gone Girl” is too pulpy. “The Theory of Everything” could play like “A Beautiful Mind,” but it’s another movie where I don’t think many will rally around that director (James Marsh) for a win. “Boyhood” may be the most viable option among the known films, but it’s a little movie with small themes about a kid, so I’m not convinced yet the industry will go as crazy for it as critics have.

So that leaves “Interstellar” for me by default, with a little fanboy wishful thinking mixed in — I think the film is astounding. It’s still early enough in the season for me to go out on a shaky limb. If it starts to sour (trashed by critics or soft box office), I might move it down or out, but I hope it doesn’t.

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