"Moonrise Kingdom" got a big boost to its Oscar campaign Wednesday when it reaped a Best Picture bid from the Producers Guild. Those precursor prizes have a great track record at predicting the Oscar nominees. And this added attention came with two days still left in voting for the Oscar nominations.
The process for determining the Oscar nominees for Best Picture is complex. To reap a bid, a film must be one of the top choices of at least 5% of voters. Producer/director/writer Wes Anderson may have found a way to finally get into this top race with his quaint but quirky tale of two pre-teen lovebirds who run off together on a romantic adventure in the New England wilderness.
After all, "Moonrise Kingdom" already took down "The Master" to win the Gotham award. It is one of the 10 nominees for Best Picture at the Critics' Choice Awards and it picked up a Golden Globe bid for Best Comedy/Musical Picture. It also cracked the AFI list of the 10 best American films of the year.
Its only disappointment has been missing out on a SAG Ensemble nomination which was a surprise given the caliber of the cast: Oscar winners Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton as well as nominees Bill Murray, Edward Norton and Bob Balaban and screen icon Bruce Willis. That the leads are two new kid actors may have hurt but it is worth noting that, for my mind, both Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are able to hold their own, if not out-bat, the big Hollywood hitters.
The narrative structure of the film has a more broad appeal than most of Anderson’s other films. It is his most well-received since "Rushmore" (1998) scoring 84 on Metacritic. That puts it higher than three of the other leading Oscar contenders -- “Les Miserables” (63), “Silver Lining’s Playbook” (81) and “Life of Pi” (79). It was also a success at the box office taking in under $50 million.
“Moonrise Kingdom” is an independent, romantic-comedy adventure with a distinct fairytale style. It bursts with charm, nostalgia and eccentricity. Voters who love this type of film probably don’t make up a huge chunk of the academy but this is the film which they will rank number one. And it only takes a small but passionate amount of support to get nominated.
This is not to say that “Moonrise Kingdom” is sure to reap a Best Picture bid. According to our odds, it is fighting a handful of other films -- "The Master," "Amour," "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and "Skyfall" -- for the last couple of slots.
On the downside, it was released half a year ago, has not been at the forefront of the awards season and has a unique style and tone that may not strike a chord with enough academy voters.