The Real Season Begins - Part Two: Everything Else

For the films of 2014
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Re: The Real Season Begins - Part Two: Everything Else

Postby Big Magilla » Sat Dec 06, 2014 5:51 pm

Yes, critics' awards - the old standbys - NYC, L.A., NBR, will cause Oscar voters to take another look at winners they may not have otherwise considered, but the other groups won't necessarily have the same influence unless there is wide consensus on something other than a Jean-Luc Godard film. I doubt the Academy will go for Interstellar beyond a few technical nods, but I wouldn't dismiss Unbroken just yet. It only has seven critics weighing in thus far on MetaCritic - four from the Hollywood trades and three from London. The London average may only be 55, but the Hollywood average is 77. I suspect it's still at the top of most Academy members' must-see list.
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Re: The Real Season Begins - Part Two: Everything Else

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Dec 06, 2014 4:52 pm

Starting tomorrow, we’ll be getting a gusher of info that’ll either change or ratify current thinking. A couple of thoughts that have struck me in recent days, which I thought I’d sneak in prior:

As I suspected as far back as summer, this has turned out an off-year…certainly an off-year for the kind of films that most commonly compete at the Oscars. After two consecutive years where big-ticket items mostly measured up, 2014 has gone the opposite way, with one after another late hopeful falling short (though A Most Violent Year, Into the Woods and maybe American Sniper have received enough leaning-positive response that they might make some level of showing). However, with what appears a critical flame-out for Unbroken (a blistering 59 at Metacritic), Selma is the only film from the large held-for-Christmas batch to emerge as rock-solid best picture candidate --and even it’s not at the clear-the-table level achieved by such December saviors as Schindler’s List or Titanic. There was an opening for such a film: Boyhood has its many fans (including me), but if it wins, it’ll be Hurt Locker-style – winning despite being nowhere near the success level AMPAS prefers. (I even had the odd thought today: Had it been released this year, American Hustle would almost surely have not won the NY Critics’ prize -- no way it would have topped Boyhood -- but it might have had a far greater chance of snatching the best picture Oscar.) As in earlier years like 2009 and 2011 (or 2000), voters might have to go back and review films that they saw as also-rans when they made their way through earlier in the year.

What’s sad is to watch how many Oscar bloggers are failing to adapt to this state of affairs. Many are still touting Unbroken and Interstellar for film/director nods (the latter seems truly silly: with Nolan’s well-chronicled lack of success with the directors’ branch, why would anyone think his poorest-reviewed, least successful film would break the ice?). Of course, you can’t say flat-out there’s no chance one or both of these films will get best picture slots. War Horse and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close had no reason to be included among 2011’s best films except for exactly what Unbroken and Interstellar have: the year-long EXPECTATION they’d be contenders. In 2011, that was enough. But there really weren’t many alternatives that year – the list as it was included half-assed things like The Help; other than maybe Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, nothing was criminally excluded (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would have been preferable to the Spielberg/Daldry pair, but its exclusion caused me not a moment of sadness). 2014, by contrast, offers (as I’ve been preaching) Grand Budapest Hotel, as well as late entries like the afore-mentioned A Most Violent Year or American Sniper. Even the gaudy NBR showing hasn’t persuaded most of the bloggers to open their minds to the film; they dismiss it and Anderson’s film out of hand. Easier to just go on predicting Unbroken.

(Digression: I expect to soon start moaning about the various ersatz critics’ groups that release their awards/Oscar predictions over the coming days. But a semi-salute to a new-to-me group, the Boston online critics, who released a list today naming Snowpiercer best film, and Brendan Gleeson and Marion Cotillard best actress (their motto is apparently, if Harvey’s dumping it, we’re awarding it). If more groups did what they’ve done – choose their actual favorites, instead of trying to narrow the Oscar field, I’d have no objection to their existence.)

To follow up on a discussion we had a month or so ago: The Imitation Game never did much raise its critical reputation: it sits at a mediocre 71 on Metacritic. That likely won’t hurt its commercial performance – as we all know, it opened well. (Though not as well as you’d have thought from the credulous coverage last weekend. It did fine -- $120,000 per, in 4 theatres – but from the press you’d have thought it hit a million in two days. You certainly wouldn’t have guessed that Grand Budapest Hotel opened much bigger in March -- over $200,000 per-- and Birdman was roughly comparable, given its first Friday wasn’t a near-universal holiday. Harvey sure still knows how to get journalists to help with promotion, doesn’t he?) That aside, the film looks to be an audience-pleaser, and a best picture nod is fairly assured…but I wonder even more now about the directing slot. Tyldum’s personal reviews weren’t much, and his directing hopes mostly rested on his film’s being a prime contender for the best picture win. But it seems to me Selma has taken over that “best film square enough for the King’s Speech crowd” position; Tyldum is now just another middling hopeful in the 4-through-9 slots – meaning he’s not a slam-dunk with the finicky directors’ branch . It’s of course POSSIBLE Harvey carries the day for him – as he did for Hallstrom with The Cider House Rules, or Searchlight did for Peter Cattaneo way back when. But it’s just as possible a more bracing candidate (Wes Anderson, J.C. Chandor, Mike Leigh) will bump him.

There’s some presumption out there that Into the Woods is sure-fire commercial material, which I’m dubious about from the outset (the show’s reputation has grown over the years, but Les Miz it isn’t). But something else, something I didn’t even consider till this past week: the film is not the only musical opening for the holidays; Annie will open alongside it, and I wonder if it might steal its thunder. I’m not suggesting Annie’ll be BETTER; obviously I haven’t even mentioned it as any award contender. But the stage show was, by many leagues, the more beloved musical, with built-in kid appeal, and I think they’ve made a canny choice in pitching it to black audiences. (Who might not even need to be pitched. I saw a black woman with her young daughter at a bus stop last week. When they spied the poster, the mother asked, You want me to sing some of it for you? I expected to hear “Tomorrow”… but instead she broke into “Hard Knock Life” -- that hip-hop sample has pretty much made the song equally famous, and made the show into an even wider-known commodity). The audience for musicals is limited as it is –Sondheim musicals, especially; I wonder if Annie could potentially siphon off enough business to deal Woods a significant box-office blow.

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Re: The Real Season Begins - Part Two: Everything Else

Postby flipp525 » Thu Dec 04, 2014 1:06 pm

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Eddie Redmayne gets left off Best Actor this year. His will be one of the supposedly "shocking snubs" that everyone's talking about Oscar morning. I also won't be surprised if Felicity Jones gets in while he's excluded from the party (sort of like Helen Hunt and John Hawkes for The Sessions a couple years ago). The Theory of Everything is Oscar-lite and I just don't see that performance going to the top of many ballots this year. Maybe if it was 1987, not 2014.
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Re: The Real Season Begins - Part Two: Everything Else

Postby dws1982 » Sat Nov 29, 2014 4:56 pm

Mister Tee wrote:Robert Duvall – who has veteran love, and the remnants of a campaign that, thanks to a weak category, has survived his film’s critical/commercial fizzle

Having just seen The Judge, it's difficult to imagine a scenario in which Duvall doesn't get nominated, unless there are lots of heavy-hitters in the year-end releases. It's got about everything people look for in a typical supporting actor candidate--grumpy old man, sickness, reconnecting with his son(s). Half the performance is an Oscar clip. Hard to call it a supporting performance when the cast more or less hands the film over to him, though. I wouldn't nominate him, but I expect several critics groups (who like to predict the Oscars) and the Academy to do so.

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Re: The Real Season Begins - Part Two: Everything Else

Postby ITALIANO » Wed Nov 26, 2014 3:52 am

Uri wrote:
ITALIANO wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:
Though, let me quickly add: even if voters have to strain for a fifth (or fourth) nominee, I don’t think that automatically makes it The Worst Year for Actresses. Three central nominees who appear very strong is not nothing; I’d say it’s enough to make this year at the very least superior to the batch in 2005.




I dont know... They appear to be locks, true, and they will certainly will be nominated. But today, with this hype from internet (even for movies or performances which still haven't been seen by many), it doesn't necessarily mean that these are strong or even good performances. I am sure that Julianne Moore WILL be at leaast good in Still Alice... but as the other two - nominated or not, I must see them to be sure.


Trust me, though she proved herself to be quite a good actress in the past, Rosamund Pike’s performance is not a good one. Not necessarily her fault – she just dutifully does what her atrociously written role calls for. A bad film. (And I’m saying that as a (formally?) big Fincher’s fan).




Of course I trust you - and I kind of knew that... So, when the frontrunners for Best Actress are Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl and Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything, I mean, you FEEL (we are old and expert enough) that ok, maybe it won't be The Worst Year for actresses, but honestly - and I know that it's too soon to say, but then it's the predictions thread - not one of The Best either.

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Re: The Real Season Begins - Part Two: Everything Else

Postby Uri » Wed Nov 26, 2014 2:04 am

ITALIANO wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:
Though, let me quickly add: even if voters have to strain for a fifth (or fourth) nominee, I don’t think that automatically makes it The Worst Year for Actresses. Three central nominees who appear very strong is not nothing; I’d say it’s enough to make this year at the very least superior to the batch in 2005.




I dont know... They appear to be locks, true, and they will certainly will be nominated. But today, with this hype from internet (even for movies or performances which still haven't been seen by many), it doesn't necessarily mean that these are strong or even good performances. I am sure that Julianne Moore WILL be at leaast good in Still Alice... but as the other two - nominated or not, I must see them to be sure.


Trust me, though she proved herself to be quite a good actress in the past, Rosamund Pike’s performance is not a good one. Not necessarily her fault – she just dutifully does what her atrociously written role calls for. A bad film. (And I’m saying that as a (formally?) big Fincher’s fan).

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Re: The Real Season Begins - Part Two: Everything Else

Postby ITALIANO » Tue Nov 25, 2014 6:14 pm

Mister Tee wrote:
Though, let me quickly add: even if voters have to strain for a fifth (or fourth) nominee, I don’t think that automatically makes it The Worst Year for Actresses. Three central nominees who appear very strong is not nothing; I’d say it’s enough to make this year at the very least superior to the batch in 2005.




I dont know... They appear to be locks, true, and they will certainly will be nominated. But today, with this hype from internet (even for movies or performances which still haven't been seen by many), it doesn't necessarily mean that these are strong or even good performances. I am sure that Julianne Moore WILL be at leaast good in Still Alice... but as the other two - nominated or not, I must see them to be sure.

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Re: The Real Season Begins - Part Two: Everything Else

Postby Sabin » Tue Nov 25, 2014 5:19 pm

If Marisa Tomei couldn't get an Indie Spirit nomination, that's about it.
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Re: The Real Season Begins - Part Two: Everything Else

Postby flipp525 » Tue Nov 25, 2014 11:47 am

I'm saddened (but not surprised) that Tilda Swinton's work in Snowpiercer is destined to be ignored this year in the supporting actress category. Such a unique creation that goes as over-the-top as Meryl's yet never loses its "humanness." And was obviously crafted from the ground up by Swinton.

I'd also add Kim Dickens (Gone Girl) to your list of forgotten supporting dark horses. Widespread support for Selma could also bring Carmen Ejogo or even Oprah Winfrey into the conversation.

I also thought that Marisa Tomei turned in great work in Love Is Strange, but I'm sure that movie is eons off Oscar radar.
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The Real Season Begins - Part Two: Everything Else

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:46 pm

As promised, a look at the other categories. The acting competition is a bit clearer – not in any way definitive, but unlike best picture, where I can’t even locate the core of the race, it’s easy to suss out the primary candidates.

Best Actor appears to be a spirited, broad race, which we hope to god the prelims don’t ruin, the way they did with a similarly promising field last year (or in 2005). Michael Keaton has nailed down a strong comeback in a film likely to get multiple glamour nominations; his ovation at those stupid Hollywood Film Awards tells me the film community is pleased with this, and will give him a prime spot. The two brilliant-but-beset Brits, Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne, are also extremely likely to make the list, based on the profiles of their films and the obvious strenuousness of acting involved. If Selma is the big kahuna it’s now touted to be – and it’s looking that way – then you’d think a role like Martin Luther King would be a strong ticket to carry David Oyelowo onto the roster.

At a lot of the others sites, people are taking that list, throwing in Steve Carell, and calling it a year. Two reasons I don’t go along: first, I don’t care for Foxcatcher and question its ability to impress audiences enough to win major nominations (I say this with no pleasure, because I like Steve Carell, and I’m sure, after all this hype, he’ll feel slighted if he fails to make the list); second, I remember last year, when both top slates were thought to be set in stone, and neither turned out as expected.

As BJ noted a week or so ago, the alternate possibilities cover a wide range: actors in movies that might figure into the best picture race -- Timothy Spall, Bradley Cooper, Oscar Isaac; the still-unseen Jack O’Connell; genre hot-shots like Ralph Fiennes or Ben Affleck; and offbeat yet not impossible candidates like Joaquin Phoenix and Jake Gyllenhaal. It seems to me any of these fellows might have picked up slots in that 2006-2009 period, during which best actor fields were surprisingly soft. This year, they’ll need considerably more luck. But given the flukish way varied ballots can break out – bringing Demian Bechir or Richard Jenkins into the main event – I’m not willing to count any of them out just yet.

Once again, if you had the misfortune of watching those ghastly Hollywood Film Awards (I had them on muted; and I swear I was doing chores), you know that Best Actress is one category where we have an undisputed front-runner – Julianne Moore (despite the fact there’ve got to be a ton of people who haven’t seen her film yet). All signs are that the film, and performance, are at least solid, possibly first-rate. But, even beyond that, I think the idea that it’s time Julianne Moore won this prize has gained wide acceptance, and she’s sprinting at the head of the pack.

So…we’re mostly talking about rounding up a field of probable also-rans to surround her. Of these, the clearly strongest candidates are Reese Witherspoon and Rosamund Pike – Witherspoon because she apparently has a near one-woman show, and Pike because she’s the central character in the biggest commercial/also-well-reviewed hit of the Fall. (I’ve seen some people at other sites suggest Pike is “losing her buzz”, which I think mainly means they’re bored with talking about her. Given the paucity of both strong female roles and high-earning grown-up movies this year, the chances of her being omitted seeme close to zero.) In a better year, BJ’s favorite, Felicity Jones, would be strictly a long shot…but this isn’t a better year, and it’s somewhat hard to see her missing at this point.

The hardest part is figuring who else they’re going to come up with to fill out the ballot. All leading female roles have now been screened(even if a few have yet to be officially reviewed), and we’ve got: Hilary Swank – decently reviewed in a movie no one’s going to see; Amy Adams – not viewed as a standout in a film that probably won’t get attention from many beyond Harvey; Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year, now firmly positioned in support (might someone try to revive Eleanor Rigby?); and the ladies of Into the Woods – about whom screening audiences don’t even seem agreed on who’s lead (Emily Blunt? Anna Kendrick? Bump Streep back up?) Things have come to such a pass there’s serious discussion of Shailene Woodley in that teenage weeper. Strange indeed.

Though, let me quickly add: even if voters have to strain for a fifth (or fourth) nominee, I don’t think that automatically makes it The Worst Year for Actresses. Three central nominees who appear very strong is not nothing; I’d say it’s enough to make this year at the very least superior to the batch in 2005.

We already discussed the supporting actor situation in a previous thread, but, to briefly recap: we have two dead-solid-certain nominees in J.K. Simmons and Edward Norton (one of whom is likely to be this year’s winner – Simmons the favorite, in my eyes, though I’ll be interested to see if the critics’ groups fall in line for him with the near-unanimity they showed for Leto last year). Mark Ruffalo seems to me a likely survivor even if Foxcatcher fails to nab other nominations – partly because of the un-scary competition, and partly because he creates the most human character on view. Ethan Hawke, as we discussed in that other thread, SHOULDN’T be such a clear choice – he’s not the standout that his female counterpart is – but, again, when pickings are slim, mid-range candidates can become certainties.

After that, we’re talking about choosing from a group that’s evoked hosannahs from no one. However, two cheers might be enough for one of the following: Alec Baldwin – who will have the advantage of coat-tailing a best actress probability; Josh Brolin – who’s been down this track before, and is working with a director whose earlier films have had attention from the actors’ branch; Robert Duvall – who has veteran love, and the remnants of a campaign that, thanks to a weak category, has survived his film’s critical/commercial fizzle; Miyavi – who presumably will rise or fall with the fate of still-unseen Unbroken; Tom Wilkinson – who’s a familiar name to Oscar voters, and has the advantage of being connected to a central best picture competitor (though maybe the disadvantage of middling critical response, and comparison to Bryan Cranston’s recent Tony-winning portrayal); and, yes, Chris Pine, who seems to have got the most genuinely enthusiastic response from the Into the Woods screenings over the weekend.

So, Gregory Ellwood wrote this piece at Tapley’s site over the weekend:
http://www.hitfix.com/in-contention/can ... -the-woods

Can I tell you how many ways I hate this article? First off, it will surprise no one I groan at the thought of Meryl Streep being whored out for a supporting award she doesn’t remotely need. Not only do I resent such a prime name stealing a secondary Oscar slot, I question whether people actually think Streep is so great in the part, or whether, contrarily, they decided ahead of time the witch was such a sure-fire role than no actress could miss getting nominated for it (something that will come as news to Bernadette Peters from the original production), and this is just their self-fulfilling prophecy. Even beyond all that, I take major objection to his contention that there are only six candidates for the spot – in addition to Streep, Patricia Arquette, Keira Knightley, Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain and Laura Dern. Obviously all those ladies have a decent chance at slipping into the final list – but so, as far as I can see, do Carrie Coon, Kristen Stewart, or even Rene Russo, and treating them as if they don’t exist is an offensive part of the Oscar-blogger bubble (and often a mistaken part: this same group-think has excluded eventual nominees like Barkhad Abdi, Sally Hawkins, Jonah Hill and Jacki Weaver in recent years).

So…to do a more thorough overview of the category: Many sites are declaring Patricia Arquette some sort of prohibitive favorite for the win, which I don’t yet see – but I do think her months-long exposure has made her an extremely likely nominee. Keira Knightley also seems to have an upper hand, based on her film’s apparent prominence in the race in general. As for the rest: I think Emma Stone’s chances are very good, partly from the strength of her work, and partly from her film’s likelihood of competing in so many major categories. Ellwood’s other sure-shots – Streep, Dern and Chastain – seem more wobbly to me based on one circumstance or another: Streep because we don’t know how strong a factor Into the Woods will be overall; Dern because she apparently has limited screen-time, and Wild doesn’t seem a wide-ranging contender; and Chastain because she seems the only prime candidate from a film that may not quite reach the level of best picture contender. It’s of course possible name recognition could help any of these three overcome these hurdles.

But I’d urge people not to overlook the others I’ve cited. Kristen Stewart’s performance is going to be widely seen, thanks to Julianne Moore hysteria; recent winners Jeff Bridges and Cate Blanchett have helped supporting players to nominations. Carrie Coon has the advantage of a film that’s likely to be nominated for film, actress and (to tip my hand) screenplay; she could be buoyed the way, say, Hill or Abdi were last year. Rene Russo is of course my long shot, but she’s connected to a conceivable Gyllenhaal run at the best actor slot, and I wonder if not a few Hollywood actresses admire her for doing something different at an age when too many casting directors would pass her by.

Last year, best director was so hyper-competitive that people who’d have been slam-dunk nominees most years (Spike Jonze, Paul Greengrass) ended up on the sidelines. This year, beyond the obvious Linklater, Innaritu and (conditionally) DuVernay, it’s a mystery who’ll end up selected. Morten Tyldum, assuming Harvey does the job for him in best picture, could aIso make it; I’m less inclined to think James Marsh will do the same (Theory of Everything is too bland for the directors’ branch without a major best picture run). The question after that is, do voters go with new faces (Damien Chazelle, Angelina), screenplay nominees moving up (J.C. Chandor, Wes Anderson), or do they stick with veterans in return (Fincher, Miller, Eastwood, Leigh)? This field will presumably thin out as we plod through precursors, but for right now it’s a pretty solid muddle.

Screenplay, as I mentioned in an earlier thread, and BJ elaborated on, is wildly bifurcated this year. Original is just incredibly competitive. I start with Birdman, Boyhood and Grand Budapest Hotel as certainties (even in the year Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom failed at best picture, it qualified in screenplay). Selma, as a best picture prominent, has to be considered likely. Foxcatcher and Whiplash have rabid partisans, and this is one category where commercial softness will hurt them least. That already puts us at six-into-five-won’t-go, without even considering previous nominees J.C. Chandor of A Most Violent Year or Mike Leigh of Mr. Turner – and, the one I keep pointing to, Chris Rock for Top Five. The branch that nominated Borat would hardly flinch from putting Rock in its books.

The long-shot: people associated with Foxcatcher or Selma look at this category split and say, hey, you know, what: we’re kind of adapted (which has the virtue of being essentially true: that Selma is original, while The Imitation Game is adapted, says the sorting process is a ass). And Whiplash could pull out the Billy Bob Thornton “Based on a previous, shorter version” scam and make the same reclassification.

All the current state of affairs does is make Adapted Screenplay interesting around the edges. I’d say we can count on Gone Girl and The Imitation Game, and probably, alas, The Theory of Everything. But after that, it’s a matter of whether the last big ticket items –Into the Woods and Unbroken – stand or fall; whether smaller, actor-centered items, like Still Alice, American Sniper or Wild can break through; or whether there are enough hipsters in the branch to carry Paul Thomas Anderson to another nod, for Inherent Vice. This would be a prime spot for a foreign-language nominee; can anyone think of one? (Blue is the Warmest Color might have made it, easily.)

Cinematography’s intriguing in the wake of the half-fall of Interstellar. As a best picture candidate/visual effects certainty, the film was in prime position to continue the parade of CGI winners of recent years. Could it still be nominated/even win without the best picture bump? It’s hard to know which way to go, otherwise. People are talking Birdman, but I’ve never seen evidence voters reward stunts like Lubezki pulled off; they prefer pretty pictures. Maybe Unbroken will offer that – certainly Deakins is a prospect for nomination even if the film’s mediocre. But winning will require some sort of strong reviews. After that? Maybe Selma, or Into the Woods, or Mr. Turner, with the outcome anyone’s guess.

I’d say Into the Woods, Mr. Turner and Grand Budapest Hotel are the strongest candidates for set and costume design, and they should stage an invigorating competition. I’m intrigued by the sound mixing category, of all places. Interstellar ought to be exactly what that branch craves – but criticism of inaudible dialogue has been so widespread that I wonder if the film will take a hit there. In which case, the branch’s second-favorite thing – musicals – may take the prize: another chance for Into the Woods. Editing is of course sort-of-tied to best picture, but I haven’t seen anything so far that jumps out as an obvious choice – though Boyhood and Birdman clearly rely on their editing to a massive degree, and Gone Girl has the thriller vibe, plus the involvement of Fincher’s two-time winning team. Visual effects seemed in Interstellar’s pocket three weeks ago, and it could still win, on the basis of being the most-grown-up entry. But the door is now open for either Guardians of the Galaxy or Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. And Guardians, along with Into the Woods, seems a prime candidate for make-up, though as always we have to wait and see what idiosyncratic choices that branch makes.

Can this finally be Alexandre Desplat’s year? You can’t criticize him for lack of effort: he has three major entries -- The Imitation Game, Unbroken and Grand Budapest Hotel -- and could win for any of them. Most interesting secondary question: could the unusual, drums-only Antonio Sanchez score for Birdman get him on the list? For song, “Lost Stars” from Begin Again still seems the most obvious choice, but I of course haven’t yet heard late entries from, among others, Selma.

Animated feature, as I mentioned in the review thread today, is currently a jump-ball between The LEGO Movie and Big Hero 6, but Song of the Sea has major critical acclaim, and it could come on strong in the months ahead.


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