Stiles White’s low-budget horror flick Ouija barely won the weekend box office over Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy’s takedown of today’s entertainment press, but the real story of the weekend is Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman. Following raves out of the Venice Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, and New York Film Festival, the satire of the entertainment industry has scored the top per-screen average for each of its three weekends. Distributor Fox Searchlight will have Birdman in more than 400 locations on Friday.
Enough voters will likely find Birdman too strange or too dark (or too close to home?) for it to actually take the top prize, but it very much remains in the Oscar hunt. In addition to picture and director, expect stars Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, and Edward Norton to score bids in actor, supporting actress, and supporting actor, respectively. However, best chance for a Birdman win seems to be for Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo’s original screenplay; it might also emerge as a threat in the film-editing category.
Moving to official Oscar news, 20 films have entered the race for animated feature film. Leading the pack are Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s The LEGO Movie for Warner Bros., Dean DeBlois’ How to Train Your Dragon 2 for DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox, and Don Hall and Chris Williams’ Big Hero 6 for Walt Disney Studios; Isao Takahata’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya for Studio Ghibli and GKIDS, Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi’s The Boxtrolls for LAIKA and Focus Features, Tomm Moore’s Song of the Sea for GKIDS, and Jorge R. Gutierrez’s The Book of Life for 20th Century Fox could also factor into the race. Also eligible are the following films: Cheatin’, Giovanni’s Island, Henry & Me, The Hero of Color City, Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, Minuscule – Valley of the Lost Ants, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Penguins of Madagascar, The Pirate Fairy, Planes: Fire & Rescue, Rio 2, and Rocks in My Pockets.
Remember, I’m only predicting films set for U.S. distribution for nominations, but my overall lists still include films that might lack U.S. distribution at the moment. And in the name of shameless self-promo, you can check out more detailed Oscar musings over at my blog, Awards and Such. Keep in mind that my predictions there and on Screen Invasion might differ, given that I will update both at different times – I’ll update my Screen Invasion picks once a week; I’ll most likely update my blog picks at different intervals.