Voters are, well, voting, ballots in hand, catching up with screeners and such. As already laid out earlier this week, there's plenty in the news to help curate the field in this way or that, but this is also the time for outright discovery. And you know what film is playing really, really well to voters lately? “Nightcrawler,” that's what.
I had been turning over the question even before this morning's ACE Eddie nominations were announced, but now I'm even more curious: Can Dan Gilroy's firecracker film end up in the Best Picture mix? It would obviously be a massive coup for Open Road Films, which continues to take on interesting quasi-genre fare like this and “The Grey” and provide a unique indie haven. The film is already a pretty significant box office success story, having grossed over $30 million in domestic release. It's not just a hit, it's a profitable one, and it's a movie that surprises people. That's an interesting recipe right there.
And after all, “if you want to win the lottery, you have to make the money to buy a ticket,” right?
Things really started to heat up when Jake Gyllenhaal landed a Screen Actors Guild nomination (followed soon after by Golden Globe and Critics' Choice nods to go along with it). That moved it up on the list of priorities for a lot of people. Now that it's being seen more widely and loved, we might see a bit of a domino effect. Next week the writers guild could reveal it as a nominee in an original screenplay category that finds contenders like “Mr. Turner” and “Selma” disqualified and on the sidelines. And who knows, maybe the financial success could lead the producers guild to find a place for it as well.
The point is, every year, things start to boil down to a need for “something else.” “American Sniper” is tearing it up at the box office after getting positive, but nevertheless somewhat muted critical response out of an AFI Fest premiere in November. That lull in excessive attention in the interim might have just been what the doctor ordered. “Nightcrawler,” a critical hit, is in a similar boat, pretty unassuming, not an overt awards play on the outside, then, boom – Gyllenhaal turns heads with nominations. Rene Russo gets her share of adoration (watch out for something to happen there). People begin to recommend it to each other and it takes on a bit of a life at just the right moment. After months of the conversation slowly morphing with the usual names, there is something else.
And let me tell you, becoming that “something else” is an art unto itself.
What do you think? Could “Nightcrawler” insinuate itself into the volatile Best Picture discussion? Sound off in the comments.