×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Early, Splintered Year-End Kudos Reveal a Wide-Open Oscar Race

A lack of a single instance of overlap among the NBR, NYFCC and LAFCA proves nothing is settled just yet.

You want to know what a wide-open Oscar race looks like? Behold:

Best Picture: “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Carol” and “Spotlight”
Best Director: Ridley Scott, Todd Haynes and George Miller
Best Actor: Matt Damon, Michael Keaton and Michael Fassbender
Best Actress: Brie Larson, Saoirse Ronan and Charlotte Rampling
Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, Mark Rylance and Michael Shannon
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kristen Stewart and Alicia Vikander
Best Screenplay: “The Martian”/”The Hateful Eight,” “Carol” and “Spotlight”

So says the three highest-profile earlier precursor awards groups — the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, respectively — in each field. Not one instance of overlap in a single category.

I can’t say this for sure, but that feels unprecedented. But whether it is or isn’t (UPDATE: It isn’t. But 1988 was the last time it happened.), it’s certainly indicative of a wide-open race in all of the major categories.

The 2015 film awards race really started revving its engines where it always does, more or less — at the Telluride Film Festival in September. There, in the San Juan Mountains, “Carol” came out to play following a Cannes bow, “Spotlight” and “Black Mass” transitioned from Venice, and “Steve Jobs” and “Room” first unspooled for audiences, all just a half-hour away from where Quentin Tarantino and company filmed “The Hateful Eight” some months prior. The early favorite looked like “Spotlight” for reasons outlined here and elsewhere: it’s a film that could appeal across a wide spectrum and, in a preferential balloting system, pick up the requisite number-two and number-three votes needed to make it a generally agreeable best picture Oscar winner.

Popular on Variety

The Toronto Film Festival added “The Martian” to the mix, while New York tacked on “Bridge of Spies” and kept the “Carol” and “Steve Jobs” flames alight. All the while, early year players like “Brooklyn” (a Sundance premiere) and the one-two summer punch of “Inside Out” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” remained lurkers.

AFI Fest added “The Big Short” and “Concussion,” and soon, the big guns many were waiting to see — “The Revenant,” “Joy” and “The Hateful Eight” — finally dropped. Though none felt like the sure-fire best picture winner awards watchers had been anticipating.

Oh, and “Creed” opened, proving that it had room to stick and move, too.

It’s a season that remains all over the map, anyone’s to call, and perhaps the most wide-open since the 2006 race (or beyond). The evenly dispersed critical wealth only embosses that fact, and various Oscar campaigns, you can bet, will see it as a sign and push the pedal to the metal.

As we move further into December, a number of regional critics groups will speak up and perhaps then, more and more, we’ll get a sense of what films and performances truly appeal to a broad base. That can be a significant clue, as it was in 2013 when “Gravity” and “Her” split the L.A. film critics prize, “American Hustle” won over the New Yorkers, yet “12 Years a Slave” won the lion’s share of regional best picture prizes. (It eventually won the best picture Oscar as well.) Perhaps we’re already seeing the beginnings of that Sunday, as the Boston Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Online each named “Spotlight” the year’s best. Who knows?

At the start of things, though, it’s a great unknown. The race is on, and it’s truly anyone’s to win.

More Film

  • Imogen Poots

    'Black Christmas' Star Imogen Poots on Why Male Horror Fans Should See Slasher Remake

    “Black Christmas” is the second remake of the 1974 slasher classic, which centers on a group of sorority sisters stalked by an unknown murderer. While the original had the female protagonists (SPOILER) offed, in this one, the women fight back. “It’s been called a re-imagining of the original, and I think, in ways that the [...]

  • Imogen Poots as Riley in "Black

    'Black Christmas': Film Review

    “Black Christmas,” a low-budget Canadian horror movie released in 1974, was a slasher thriller with a difference: It was the very first one! Okay, there were more than a few precedents, from “Psycho” (the great-granddaddy of the genre) to “The Last House on the Left” and “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” to Mario Bava’s “A [...]

  • David Benioff, D.B. Weiss. Creators and

    'Game of Thrones' Creators to Develop H.P. Lovecraft Movie at Warner Bros.

    Following their exit from the “Star Wars” universe, “Game of Thrones” co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have found their replacement pic, signing on to produce an untitled thriller based on the graphic novel “Lovecraft” for Warner Bros. It is unknown if they will also direct the project, but they’ve already set Phil Hay and [...]

  • Little Women Greta Gerwig BTS

    Greta Gerwig and 'Little Women' Crew Mix Modern and Classical

    Greta Gerwig wrote and directed Sony’s “Little Women,” a new look at Louisa May Alcott’s much-loved 19th-century classic. Eager to pay tribute to her artisan colleagues, Gerwig says, “It was a joy for me to work with all these people. It’s a movie that’s impossible to create without world-class artists. They killed themselves for me!” [...]

  • Honey Boy

    Shia LaBeouf's 'Honey Boy' Adds Unusual Twist to Oscar's History With Kids

    Hollywood has made many terrific films about childhood, and many about filmmaking. Amazon’s “Honey Boy,” which opened Nov. 8, combines the two: A movie with a child’s POV of the industry. That unique angle could be a real benefit during awards season, and the film’s backstory — with Shia LaBeouf as the main attraction — will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content