‘The Walking Dead’ zombies secretly push ‘Boyhood’ to win top Oscar

If “Boyhood” bags the Oscar for Best Picture, this derby season will be a replay of 2009-2010 when “The Hurt Locker” prevailed. With one exception. Behind the “Boyhood” win will be zombies instead of vampires.

That’s one of the hot topics Jeff Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere) and I explore in our bitchy podcast chat. Tune in below or else go to the iTunes store, do a search for “Gold Derby” and subscribe to our podcast feed so you don’t miss any lively shows ahead.

Now … back to those zombies and vampires. Let’s be honest. “The Hurt Locker” did not resemble a typical Oscar champ when it entered the race. It had a terrible title, no A List stars and it was about a subject that academy members usually shun: U.S. war in Iraq.

So what were its secret Oscar weapons? Big money, lots of nerve and a top Oscar campaigner. “The Hurt Locker” was produced by Summit, which had just made a killing off those “Twilight” vampire flicks and it wanted to be considered a serious Oscar player, so it invested heavily in a substantial awards campaign hired Cynthia Swartz to manage it. She had previously worked on the successful Best Picture drives for “No Country for Old Men,” “The Departed,” “Crash” and “Chicago.”

This year the company behind “Boyhood” has something to prove, too. IFC is owned by AMC Networks, which made a financial killing off “The Walking Dead” and got used to winning lots of industry awards thanks to the Emmy sweeps by “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men.” So it’s planning a notable investment in an ambitious Oscar campaign, which will be guided by, yes, Cynthia Swartz.

See Jeff’s predix here. Mine here.


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