2014 Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 3

As the precursor awards continue unabated until Oscar night, I’m going to be providing a weekly update highlighting the films that have won and lost momentum through the precursor awards (and in some cases other outside influences).

This week will be the final week for film critics to announce their nominees and most of the winners will be out there with the exception of a couple of regional groups and showmen. This week will also be the most bountiful of them all with no fewer than 18 groups potentially releasing their selections.

But, before we get into this week’s winners and losers, let’s take a look at what’s coming up this week:

Week 4

Monday, Dec. 15 – Broadcast Critics Nominations (Official)
Monday, Dec. 15 – Chicago Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Monday, Dec. 15 – Dallas Area Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Monday, Dec. 15 – Online Critics Awards (Official)
Monday, Dec. 15 – San Diego Critics Awards (Official)
Monday, Dec. 15 – Southeastern Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Monday, Dec. 15 – St. Louis Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Tuesday, Dec. 16 – London Critics Nominations (Unconfirmed)
Tuesday, Dec. 16 – Austin Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Tuesday, Dec. 16 – Houston Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Tuesday, Dec. 16 – Indiana Film Journalists Awards (Unconfirmed)
Tuesday, Dec. 16 – Phoenix Critics Awards (Official)
Tuesday, Dec. 16 – San Francisco Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Tuesday, Dec. 16 – Toronto Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Wednesday, Dec. 17 – Florida Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Friday, Dec. 19 – Las Vegas Critics Awards (Official)
Friday, Dec. 19 – Utah Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Sunday, Dec. 21 – Vancouver Critics Nominations (Unconfirmed)

Big Winners

Birdman continues to chug along in the awards race. While it isn’t winning nearly as many awards as its chief competitor, Boyhood, it’s performing sufficiently to keep it in the race for Best Picture.
Boyhood has racked up an impressive list of awards and could carry that forward to the Oscars, but it has to watch out for late-breaking features.
Gone Girl isn’t winning lots of awards, but it’s showing up in several races, mostly for director David Fincher and Best Actress (Rosamund Pike). The film got nods at both the Globes and the SAG awards, so it’s still in the hunt.
The Grand Budapest Hotel quietly racks up prizes while everyone is paying attention to Birdman and Boyhood. This may be Wes Anderson’s most successful film and with a Best Director nomination from the Golden Globes, the film is doing far better than anyone really expected.
Whiplash has picked up plenty of awards for Best Supporting Actor J.K. Simmons, but is dominating top ten lists and Best Picture slates in spite of not seeming like the kind of film critics would heap awards recognition on.
Jake Gyllenhaal is having far more success than his film is, showing up in so many Best Actor slates that his borderline nomination seems more inevitable by the day. It’ll be tough for the Academy to justify ignoring someone performing so strongly in the precursors.

Big Losers

Into the Woods seemed like the kind of film that could steam roll through the larger groups, but it didn’t show up in the expected Best Cast slot at the Screen Actors Guild (though Meryl Streep showed up in Supporting Actress) and the critics have largely been ignoring the film. Streep seems like a lock, but the film needs a bigger boost from the guilds to get back in the competition.
Interstellar has received some of the worst reviews of Christopher Nolan’s career. His intense partisans still seem to be flogging his film as having a shot at Best Picture, but all the signs are pointing to it being forgotten. The Screen Actors Guild completely avoided it, even in the Best Stunt Cast category while its lone appearance at the Golden Globes was for Best Original Score, which isn’t very impressive. Compare that to how Inception fared with four Golden Globe nominations including Drama Picture, Director, Screenplay and Score as well as a Stunt Cast win from the Screen Actors Guild.
Benedict Cumberbatch should have been a force to be reckoned with, but like his dragon from The Hobbit, he has a vulnerability and that seems to be the overwhelmingly full Best Actor race. Time and again, Cumberbatch has been ignored by critics. His saving grace is the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations he received. That should keep him in the conversation long enough to secure a Best Actor nomination from the Academy, but he’s more vulnerable than I would have expected a few months ago.
Two Days, One Night was completely forgotten by both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild. While Marion Cotillard has gotten a lot of love from the critics, those two behemoths are necessary for the Academy to recognize that she’s in the race as more than just a critics’ darling.

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  1. I think you meant to write Dec. instead of Jan. for the Week 4 awards schedule

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