birdman-trailer-keaton-nortonFestival Circuit: Oscar potentials “Birdman,” The Imitation Game,” and “Wild” rock Telluride

Every year the summer blockbusters begin to simmer down. September comes along and studios start the long campaigning for their chosen films. Historically, the Venice Film Festival and the Telluride Film Festival can  jump the award season.

Last year, Oscar rivals “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” exploded out of Telluride with rave reviews. This year there are two films sharing the word “Oscar” in many tweets from Colorado. Morten Tyldum’s “The Imitation Game” and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Birdman.”

Other notable films that met some positive feedback were Jean-Marc Vallee’s “Wild” and Jon Stewart’s “Rosewater.”

See all of our Oscar Predictions here.

9e3838ad34c5f08821097b64288d0ba9The Imitation Game

At the dawn of every year, the small population of people who try to weed out the Oscar contenders will usually ask themselves one question: What is Harvey Weinstein doing?

The Weinstein Company has distributed two of the five Best Picture winners this decade (“The Artist,” “The King’s Speech.” They are notorious for campaigning the hell out of their contenders at the end of the year.

Last year the strongest films they had were “Philomena” and “August: Osage County.” Reviews were just strong enough to warrant a few Oscar nominations for both films, but a win wasn’t going to happen.

So the immediate answer to that question earlier this year, What is Harvey Weinstein Doing?, Was Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes.” Yes, Tim Burton has a history of being a whishy-washy director. He has released critical hits such as “Ed Wood,” “Big Fish,” and “Sweeney Todd,” but has released critical flops such as “Alice in Wonderland,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and “Dark Shadows.”

“Big Eyes” didn’t show up in Colorado. Earlier test screenings had a mixed reaction, so there’s no telling what may or may not change in the film, or even if it’ll be released this year or pushed to 2015. We have still yet to see a trailer.

“The Imitation Game,” on paper, looks bland. The Alan Turing storyline isn’t anything new, and the trailer looked dull as well. Morten Tyldum isn’t a big name like Burton. His greatest achievement was being nominated for a BAFTA for a 2011 foreign film titled “Hodejegerne.”

Early test screenings made it clear though, that this was a film to pay attention to. With 7 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, the film currently has a 100% from critics, but a 6.8/10 average. Meaning that the reviews are positive, but in the way a 3/5 star review is positive.

Regardless, this may be The Weinstein Company’s horse in the Oscar race:

Oscar Potential

Likely
Picture
Actor – Benedict Cumberbatch
Screenplay (Though there is some debate on whether it is Original or Adapted)
Score – Alexandre Desplat
On the Bubble
Director – Morten Tyldum
Supporting Actress – Keira Knightley
Production Design
Cinematography
Film Editing
Costume Design

Unlikely
Supporting Actor – Matthew Goode
Makeup and Hairstyling

media_birdman_20140731Birdman

Alejandro González Iñárritu achieved Oscar success in  2007 when his film “Babel” was nominated for Best Picture and he was nominated for Best Director.

This year he has “Birdman” which looks nothing like any of his previous films. Before showing in Telluride, the film premiered in Venice. Reactions ranged from positive to overwhelming positive.

From the start people have been predicting that this film would have award success, the only con being that the film didn’t seem like something Oscar voters would go for. It is a very unconventional storyline.

The film is shot in one sequence, much like Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope” where it feels like the film is all one shot, but there are a few shots hidden. Who better to pull this off than 2013 Oscar winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, recently having worked on “Gravity.”

The film stars Michael Keaton as a washed up actor trying to make it on Broadway. This actor once played an iconic superhero named Birdman. Many people are drawing parallels to Keaton’s career, having once portrayed Batman, and not being quite as successful later on in his career.

Festival attendees admired Keaton’s performance, indicating that he is a shoe-in for an Oscar nomination. What was more surprising was the overwhelming reviews for Edward Norton’s performance. Many wondered about Emma Stone’s chances, some said maybe, but that Norton and Keaton really ruled the film.

Oscar Potential

Likely
Picture
Director – Alejandro González Iñárritu
Actor – Michael Keaton
Supporting Actor – Edward Norton
Cinematography

On the Bubble

Supporting Actress – Emma Stone
Original Screenplay
Production Design
Film Editing
Original Score – Antonio Sanchez

Unlikely
Supporting Actor – Zach Galifianakis
Costume Design
Makeup and Hairstyling
Visual Effects
Sound Editing
Sound Mixing

91223-eight

 

Wild

Jean-Marc Vallee had a lot of success with his last film “Dallas Buyers Club,” earning first-time Oscar wins for both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. This time some predict he can do the same thing for actress’s Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern.

Unlike “The Imitation Game” and “Birdman,” “Wild” wasn’t raved about. It currently has 1 fresh and 3 rotten reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Though many predict that this rating will climb much higher, “Wild” is not, by any means, fitting into the Best Picture race at this time.

Oscar Potential

Likely
Actress – Reese Witherspoon

On the Bubble
Picture
Supporting Actress – Laura Dern
Adapted Screenplay

Unlikely
Director – Jean-Marc Vallee
Film Editing

 

Jon Stewart’s “Rosewater” did well, currently holding an 86% at this time on Rotten Tomatoes, but it is doubtful that it will fit into the award season.

Toronto International Film Festival is next. So let’s keep riding along and see what more this season entails.

 

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