It’s the time of the year many movie lovers fear but fills others with cheer. Folks, the season’s kicking into gear. Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman hits theaters across the United States this weekend, while Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash gets an expansion to about 400 screens. Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher and Tommy Lee Jones’ The Homesman debut in select locations, too. We have less than two weeks until Rosario Dawson and Diego Luna announce the Independent Spirit Award nominees and less than a month until the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) votes on the year’s best.
But the week’s big story came from the AFI Fest, where raves and Oscar chatter followed the Tuesday-night unveiling of Ava DuVernay’s civil-rights drama, Selma. She could become the first woman of color recognized in the directing category and could also land an original screenplay nomination alongside Paul Webb. David Oyelowo’s turn as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. should land a best actor nod, while Carmen Ejogo, depending on category placement, might contend for portraying Coretta Scott King. Lorraine Toussaint and Oprah Winfrey could land supporting bids (if Ejogo goes lead), as could Tim Roth and Tom Wilkinson.
For what it’s worth, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper also debuted as the fest’s secret screening. Some rave that Eastwood has returned to form, while others are less impressed. It’s difficult to gauge the buzz for this one, but I imagine that Sniper might not hit its target this season. (Sorry, BCoops.) The Gambler also debuted at the fest. Long story short, it’s probably not happening.
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.