Oscar finally has a host, Neil Patrick Harris, but does she have a frontrunner yet? Not really.
This has been a curious awards season so far in terms of the Best Picture race. There are a number of potential contenders that could win it all, but even the films that have already screened such as “The Imitation Game,” “The Theory of Everything,” “Birdman” and “Boyhood” haven't really separated themselves from the pack (not yet, anyway). That will all change when Christopher Nolan's “Interstellar” begins to screen for critics, pundits and the industry soon.
We assume it will be screened before it hits theaters on Nov. 7, a little over three weeks from now, but, hey, it's Nolan. Maybe he makes everyone buy a ticket? (We keep telling ourselves that's a joke.) Considering the film's European premiere is in London on Oct. 29, it's going to be seen by someone soon. But then again, the buzz has been building for months anyway.
Competing studios try to dismiss it – “If 'Gravity' can't win, how will 'Interstellar?'” – but, that's just silly. Last year was a historic moment for the Academy. Take “12 Years a Slave” out of the mix and “Gravity” wins the top prize (sorry “American Hustle” fans, it's true). Granted, in this case Paramount and Nolan have done everything possible publicly not to frame “Interstellar” as an awards movie. No one wants to get burned. They'll let the natural, traditional movie release course of events play itself out. The film will either live up to the hype or not. And if all goes according to plan, they'll overtake “Gone Girl” as the pop culture movie of the moment.
Better yet, they might make everyone forget those Matthew McConaughey Lincoln car commercials.
With that in mind, here's this week's countdown.
Oct. 16, 2014
The next big domino to fall.
2. “The Imitation Game”
Can you remember the last time Harvey went so quiet between a potential winner's early festival debut and putting the pedal to the metal? We can't either.
Can it beat studio stablemate “Grand Budapest's” $202,792 per-screen this weekend? How about just $100,000 per?
Considering Louis Zamperini waited over 50 years to see his life story hit the big screen, waiting until the end of November to screen this one seems like nothing.
5. “The Theory of Everything”
A few more stellar reviews at opening could create a legitimate “winning” case.
Every week that passes it looks like landing the nomination will be much easier than expected. Now? Fighting for more nominations such as, say, Ethan Hawke in supporting.
7. “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Ralph Fiennes has to be a lock for a Globe Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical nomination, right?
9. “Gone Girl”
Why does it seem like it's the consultants and publicists at competing studios who believe in this one the least?
10. “American Sniper”
Clint's latest could quickly rise on this chart.
Contender Countdown appears every Wednesday or Thursday except when it doesn't.