Will ‘Boyhood’ and Other Early-Birds Stay Top of Mind?

Awards talk tends to focus on movies that debuted at fall festivals, from Venice through New York. But that raises a question: What happens to the BFFs — Before Festival Frenzy films?

In most years, they fall by the wayside: In 2013, for example, all nine best-picture contenders were fourth-quarter launches.

But this year, the prognosis looks good for a pair of early releases: IFC’s “Boyhood,” and Fox Searchlight’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Boyhood,” which opened in July, is one of the biggest critical favorites of 2014, receiving more attention from media members than films with 20 times its gross (and 50 times its budget). Can it go the distance this awards season? Definitely. The IFC film has three key assets: It’s from a respected but often underappreciated filmmaker (Richard Linklater); its backstory is unique (12 years in production); and, most crucial, it touches the heart and stays there.

The coming-of-age drama looks like a contender in multiple categories, including supporting nods for Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, and recently led the Gotham Award nominations with four nods.

Sources tell Variety that IFC is eyeing a re-release in 2015. In the meantime, the distrib has been aggressively screening “Boyhood” at pre-nomination events around town and will continue doing so through awards season.

“Budapest,” meanwhile, also could have staying power. Six months ago, the film’s fans worried it might be too fun for awards. Now, that seems like an advantage: In a year of ultra-serious films, it’s the closest thing to a feel-good movie. It could replicate the 2011 success of “Midnight in Paris,” although that film had a slight edge in terms of buzz. One of its biggest assets is star Ralph Fiennes, who delivers a wonderful performance as hotel concierge M. Gustav. The only issue, of course, is vacancy in such a crowded race.

Having released “Budapest” on DVD in July, Fox Searchlight is reviving interest in Wes Anderson’s drama via screenings and Q&A’s, including some with Fiennes as well a few “exciting voter events” that the distributor is expected to reveal in the coming weeks.

“Boyhood,” which opened in July, will be available for digital purchase Dec. 9, then goes to Blu-ray Jan. 6. Of course, voters will receive screeners for both.

Conventional wisdom says early-year films have an uphill struggle. But conventional wisdom could very well be upended this year.

More Film


    SAG-AFTRA Leaders Approve Proposal for New Film-TV Contract

    The SAG-AFTRA national board has approved proposals for a successor deal to its master contract covering feature film and primetime television — a key step in the upcoming negotiations cycle with companies. The board approved the package Saturday with the performers union declining to reveal any specifics — its usual policy. The board established the wages [...]

  • Cameron Crowe, David Crosby, A.J. Eaton.

    Cameron Crowe on Why He Loved Leaving David Crosby Doc on a CSNY Question Mark

    David Crosby may or may not have stuck a joint in Cameron Crowe’s mouth the first time he ever met the future filmmaker, when Crosby was peaking with Crosby Stills Nash & Young and his interviewer was a precocious 15-year-old Rolling Stone correspondent. As Crowe said to Jimmy Kimmel the other night, “I remember it [...]

  • Mokalik

    Nigeria’s Kunle Afolayan: African Audiences Shouldn’t Be ‘Second-Class’

    DURBAN–A young boy from a middle-class home gets an unconventional schooling in the ways of the world when he’s forced to apprentice at a mechanic’s workshop in a rough-and-tumble section of Lagos. “Mokalik” is the latest feature from Kunle Afolayan, a leading figure in the wave of filmmakers revitalizing the Nigerian film industry. The film [...]

  • Alicia Rodis photographed by Alicia Rodis

    SAG-AFTRA Moves to Standardize Guidelines for Intimacy Coordinators

    SAG-AFTRA is moving to standardize guidelines for intimacy coordinators as part of an effort to establish policies for union members when their work involves nudity and simulated sex. “Our goal is to normalize and promote the use of intimacy coordinators within our industry,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “Intimacy coordinators provide an important safety net for [...]

  • The Lion King

    Box Office: 'The Lion King' Roars Overseas With Mighty $269 Million

    Disney’s “The Lion King” certainly felt the love this weekend, generating $269 million at the international box office. Director Jon Favreau’s remake of the classic Disney cartoon now holds the eighth-biggest debut of all time overseas, and that’s not including the film’s early opening in China last weekend. Combined with a stellar $185 million start [...]

  • Scarlett JohanssonMarvel Studios panel, Comic-Con International,

    Scarlett Johansson Reveals What We'll Learn About Black Widow in Stand-Alone Movie

    Scarlett Johansson can finally talk about her upcoming “Black Widow” movie. While she can’t divulge spoilers, she let out a big sigh of relief after the film was officially announced on Saturday during the Marvel Studios presentation at Comic-Con. “I feel like a weight has been lifted,” the Oscar nominee told Variety. “Black Widow” is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content