Oscars news: ‘Unbroken’ screening reax, boffo box office for ‘The Imitation Game’


After unspooling in both Sydney and London, “Unbroken” finally screened stateside. “Judging by the guild screenings in L.A., Universal Pictures has a heavy hitter on its hands. The film is a surefire best picture nominee, with Angelina Jolie likely to break into the director race. Acting categories could be harder to crack with such stiff competition, but star Jack O’Connell could make his way into the best actor race, and supporting actor Miyavi, who plays the main villain, also has a fair shot.” Variety

UPDATED: Experts’ Oscars predictions in 19 categories

Pete Hammond concurs: “What a movie. The sheer craft of filmmaking is all over this one. It is beautifully directed by Jolie who definitively proves, after a promising but largely unseen helming debut with ‘In The Land Of Blood Of Honey,’ that she has the chops behind the camera as well as in front of it.  She pulls off highly difficult scenes in shark infested waters  as well as in the confined spaces of a B-1 bomber, not to mention finding just the right tone for those grim prison camp scenes. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to have 11-time Oscar nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins  as your DP. Or Tim Squyres (‘Life Of Pi’) and William Goldenberg (‘Argo’) doing the editing. Or  Joel and Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson as the collective that turned out the sharp screen adaptation of Hillenbrand’s best seller. Or that Alexander Desplat contributes yet another great score. And on and on. Its awards prospects appear to be strong in a year where no clear front runner has completely dominated the conversation.” Deadline

Agrees Scott Feinberg: “‘Unbroken’ is a real contender and will get a major push from Universal — and from Jolie, who next heads to New York for a series of promotional events this week. It may or may not have the right stuff to grab the best picture Oscar away from ‘Boyhood‘ or ‘The Imitation Game‘ or ‘Selma,’ three pics that seem to have both the gravitas and passionate support necessary to go all the way. THR

Tom Brueggmann details the boffo box office of “The Imitation Game” ($482,071 in 4 theaters) in its debut weekend: “Second only to the staggering opening of ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel‘ ($811,000 in four theaters), it comes roaring out of the gate with a huge number in a hugely competitive marketplace. This is a crucial indication of long-term audience approval. After winning key audience awards at Toronto and the Hamptons fests, “The Imitation Game” boasts a Cinemascore of A+.”  Thompson on Hollywood

See latest Oscar rankings when the Experts’ predictions are combined

Steve Pond reports: “Among the top contenders that are already in theaters, only Christopher Nolan‘s ‘Interstellar‘ is conspicuous in its absence from the screener stacks” By way of explanation, there is this: “‘I think it’s much better to have people see it on a big screen [than a screener],’ Nolan said this week in an interview conducted for TheWrap’s print edition. ‘That’s my theory, anyway.’” The Wrap

In his must-read preview of the Makeup and Hairstyling category, Gerard Kennedy notes: “The category tends to award monster makeup, period makeup and old-age makeup quite a bit. Then again, there are a plethora of contenders every year that possess these characteristics but do not make the final trio. So we shall see. From my vantage point, this is a very competitive category this year.” In Contention

Ramin Sedooteh observes:”It’s almost redundant to say that it’s a weak year for actresses in the run-up to the Academy Awards, because that appears to be true every year, and it’s especially true of 2014. If landing a best actor nod is as cutthroat as Harvard admissions—poor Robert Redford and Tom Hanks had nearly perfectly SAT scores and still didn’t get in—the actress side is always starved for quality applicants.” Variety

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