Are we underestimating “Nocturnal Animals” at the Oscars? Tom Ford‘s psychological thriller about a gallery owner (Amy Adams) haunted by her ex-husband’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) violent novel about murder and revenge in West Texas, has been quietly gaining momentum, with nine BAFTA nominations, a Golden Globe win for supporting actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and mentions at various guilds. So are the experts and others not predicting it to get into Best Picture crazy?
Perhaps it’s because few of those organizations have nominated it as such. Even with a hefty BAFTA tally that includes mentions for Ford in Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, Taylor-Johnson in Best Supporting Actor, Gyllenhaal in Best Actor, and bids for Cinematography, Production Design, Film Editing, Score, and Hair and Makeup, it failed to make the cut for Best Film. Similarly, the Globes cited it for Director and Screenplay in addition to Supporting Actor, but didn’t include it in their Best Film Drama lineup.
It also missed out on the Producers Guild list, an excellent bellwether for the Academy’s picks, and Ford failed to make it in at the Directors Guild. Yet he is nominated at the Writers Guild, and the Art Directors and Costume Designers Guilds cited Shane Valentino and Arianne Phillips in their Contemporary categories, respectively. It was even recognized at the Screen Actors Guild, albeit for Stunt Ensemble.
This may not seem like much, but if you go by the theory that a Best Picture nominee is built branch-by-branch, then “Nocturnal Animals” has strong roots to stand on. The film has been recognized throughout the categories at the precursors: acting, directing, writing, cinematography, production design, costumes, film editing, and score, all of which could happen at the Oscars. Given that kind of across-the-board support, how could it miss?
On the other hand, Ford’s previous film, “A Single Man” (2009), widely expected to be a major contender for Best Picture, Supporting Actress (Julianne Moore), Adapted Screenplay (Ford and David Scearce), and Original Score (Abel Korzeniowski), reaped a solitary bid for Colin Firth as Best Actor. Will “Nocturnal Animals” have more success?
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