A lot will be written about this awards season, its break-neck twists and turns, how it seemed to be pointing in one direction but ended up swerving into another. But we've been here before, watching the frontrunner burn too bright too early and lose pace in the end. It's not the film's fault. It's the fickle nature of the season, and the often intangible nature of momentum.
Initially I thought it was a stretch but I've had “Boyhood's” January Entertainment Weekly cover story brought to my attention enough times now to at least ponder it. With an arsenal of critics' awards and a building sense that it might be “the one,” the film landed this prime placement at a key time as nominations were announced. “How one daring indie film, 12 years in the making, became this year's Oscar front-runner,” the cover beamed across a creepy photo of Ellar Coltrane with his younger selves.
It was a valid question, but one bandied about in columns and conversations, not plastered on consumer magazines. And that's not to criticize the editorial decision, rather, it's to simply point out the ingredients of causality. That brand of anointing can be truly damaging, particularly to an Academy that recoils when dictated to.
I think “Birdman” was an undetected stronger presence all along, not that any one marketing flourish necessarily deep sixed a film's Oscar hopes. But I have to imagine any call to worship isn't going to be taken gladly. It's all further to a point that isn't new news: you have to let them come to you.
“Boyhood” ultimately walked away with just one Oscar: Best Supporting Actress.
And by the way, the competition of it all, it's significant to the players, yes. But we on the outside can become far more invested than we should. I think the spirit of this batch of nominees was evident in that little group hug between Alejandro González Iñárritu, Bennett Miller and Richard Linklater in the aisle as González Iñárritu took to the stage to accept the Best Director prize. These guys have a lot of respect for one another and are clearly happy to have shared the journey together.