Oscar Watch: “Joy” is Out, so what is in?

By Christian DiMartino

David O. Russell’s Joy is out of the Oscar race. Oh wait, what? I am sad to say it, but it looks as if it is true. It isn’t out until Christmas Day, but a few critics reviewed it yesterday morning, and it currently sits at a 59% on Rotten Tomatoes. That is less than spectacular for a potential Best Picture candidate.

That being said, nothing is said in stone. Remember Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close? That film is garbage, and yet it scored a Best Picture nomination (probably because director Stephen Daldry sleeps with the voters from time to time), despite its mixed response. So Joy could still have a chance, but considering how crowded the field is this year, it will probably need a Christmas miracle.

I guess we will have a better idea when the SAG and Golden Globe nominations are released in the next few days. I do still think Jennifer Lawrence will be nominated, and that is probably it. My question is, if Joy is out, then what is in?

There are only really a few locks. Spotlight is definitely in, and will probably win Best Picture (still rockin’ that one). Todd Haynes’ Carol will probably be present. Pixar will make their grand return with Inside Out. Just a year after picking up three Oscars for Birdman, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu looks to be making a comeback with The Revenant. Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg will also probably make a return with The Martian and Bridge of Spies. Lastly, the Academy will probably find a soft spot for Brooklyn, which I am seeing today. They will also find a dark spot for Room.

So, I have listed seven. What if there’s ten? What if there’s nine? What if there’s eight? All have happened. It has been five years since there’s been ten, but since this has been such a tremendous year, ten could make the cut.

What could make ten? Could Creed be the underdog in this race? It certainly should be nominated, but will it? And how about Steve Jobs, Danny Boyle’s latest masterpiece, which is being ruled out due to its poor box office? I find this one really stupid. Correct me if I’m wrong, but last year, didn’t they ONLY nominate the indie films? Box office shouldn’t have anything to do with it. Steve Jobs is an amazing film, and if the Academy really lets Box Office get in the way of that, then they’re even dumber than I thought.

I do however think the absence of Joy leaves more room for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, and I’m kind of okay with that. It is difficult for Tarantino to make a bad film, mostly because he directs the bloody hell out of everything. No reviews have been published yet, and perhaps his whole police debacle thing could get in the way. But the early buzz is that The Hateful Eight is remarkable, and I expect nothing less.

Lastly, what about George Miller’s magnum opus Mad Max: Fury Road? It is obviously astonishing, but watching it, it never really feels like Best Picture gold, which is part of its genius. It doesn’t need to be. But critics have been doing their rounds the past few weeks, and it is cleaning up. The National Board of Review chose it as the Best Picture of the year.

When I did my predictions about a week ago, I sort of ruled it out. But it seems to be rising. I figured they couldn’t snub it in the technical categories, but could it go all the way? I hope so. Honestly, after snubbing films like The Dark Knight and Alien, to name a few, in the past, they owe it to Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s one of the finest pieces of filmmaking I’ve seen all year, and it’s proof that not all big budget action thrillers are dumb.

If it isn’t nominated, we will see the Academy members in the fiery gates of Valhalla.

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