When we launched our Oscars prediction center in late August, “Boyhood” sat atop our chart for Best Picture and it has stayed there ever since. However, “Birdman” — which is currently in second place — was back in fourth behind “Unbroken” and “Foxcatcher.” Since then, those true-life tales have slipped to ninth and tenth place respectively.
To compare the state of this race at various points in time, go to this page, scroll down and click any two dates (after Aug. 22) on the calendars. You will see what our Experts were predicting to prevail on each date. And be sure to click on the different categories on the left-hand side of the page to see the changes in those races as well.
We canvassed our Oscarologists for the first time just a week after “Boyhood” had gone wide on Aug. 15. When it opened in limited release on July 11, critics had hailed this labor of love from Richard Linklater that had been 12 years in the making. The film scored a perfect 100 among the top critics surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes and at MetaCritic too. Since then, this IFC release has taken in almost $25 million stateside. It was named top film of the year by both the Gotham and LA film critics. And it picked up multiple bids with all three key kudos in advance of the Oscars: Critics’ Choice (8), Golden Globes (5) and SAG (2).
Conversely, “Unbroken,” Angelina Jolie‘s sophomore film as a director, had not screened when our Experts first weighed in with their predictions. However, based on the pedigree of the project (Joel and Ethan Coen adapted Laura Hillenbrand‘s best-selling biography of 1936 Olympian Louis Zamperini who endured years of torture as a Japanese POW), our pundits slotted it in second. Since it unspooled just after Thanksgiving, reviews have been respectful enough to combine for a Rotten Tomatoes score of 71 and 61 at MetaCritic. Then it underperformed at the key precursor prizes, reaping four Critics’ Choice bids but being snubbed by both the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Socko box office when it opens on Christmas Day could be the boost this Universal release, now ranked ninth, needs to land a Best Picture bid.
Bennett Miller‘s “Foxcatcher” had done well at Cannes last May with critics hailing this dark drama about millionaire John DuPont and his deadly obsession with Olympic wrestlers Mark and Dave Schultz (Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo). And while it scored well at Rotten Tomatoes (86) and MetaCritic (82), box office for this Sony Pictures Classics title has stalled at just under $5 million since its limited release on Nov. 14. Although it contends at both the Globes and SAG, it was shut out of the Critics Choice kudos and just makes our top 10.
“Birdman,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s sly satire of stardom, wowed when it opened the Venice filmfest on Aug. 27. This Fox Searchlight feature merited an impressive 93 on Rotten Tomatoes and 89 at MetaCritic and has raked in $23 million since it opened on Oct. 27. It earned the most nominations at the Critics’ Choice (13), Golden Globes (7) and SAG (4) awardsfests and star Michael Keaton leads our Best Actor chart.
Ava DuVernay‘s historical drama “Selma” was not even in our top 10 back in August. Once this Paramount picture debuted at the AFI filmfest on Nov. 11, it quickly rose to the top tier and is currently ranked third. Could it rise even higher if it does big business come Christmastime? Its strong showings at the Critics’ Choice (5 noms) and Globes (4) countered the snub by SAG voters, who had not been sent screeners.
The former, about WWII codebreaker Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), won the audience award at the Toronto filmfest. This Weinstein Company release earned great reviews (88 at Rotten Tomatoes, 72 at MetaCritic) and has done solid business in limited release since Nov. 28. And it did well with nominations too: Critics’ Choice (6), Golden Globes (5) and SAG (3).
The latter showcases Eddie Redmayne as scientist Stephen Hawking who overcomes ALS with the unflagging support of his wife (Felicity Jones). This Focus Feature film has done almost as well with critics (81 at Rotten Tomatoes, 72 at MetaCritic) and has made $23 million since debuting on Nov. 7. It also did well with the Critics’ Choice (5 noms), Golden Globes (4) and SAG (3).
The biggest surprise of the season has been the resurgence of Wes Anderson‘s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” This Fox Searchlight film was a huge success last spring: buoyed by outstanding reviews (92 at Rotten Tomatoes, 89 at MetaCritic), it hauled in a staggering $172 million worldwide. While many early releases are forgotten in the year-end kudos, this film picked up 11 Critics’ Choice bids, four from the Golden Globes and a SAG Ensemble bid as well. It is now ranked sixth (up a notch from where it began).
Conversely, the biggest disappointment has been the decline of “Gone Girl,” It started off the season in fifth place based primarily on the awards pedigree of helmer David Fincher. Despite strong reviews (88 at Rotten Tomatoes, 79 at MetaCritic) and a worldwide take of $350 million, this compelling crime drama from Fox has fallen out of favor with our Experts. Even a strong showing at the Critics’ Choice (6 nominations) and Golden Globes (4) as well as a SAG bid for breakout star Rosamund Pike has not been enough to rally support and it has fallen to eighth.
New to the list in the last few weeks is “Whiplash, a hit at Sundance for writer/director Damien Chazelle. Veteran J.K. Simmons has led the Supporting Actor race from the outset and stellar reviews (96 at Rotten Tomatoes, 87 at MetaCritic) have prompted a rise in support for this Sony Pictures Classics film which has grossed $5 million since its limited release on Oct. 10. It is now ranked seventh on our list of Best Picture contenders.
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