Oscar Watch: Unbroken

In the 2014 Oscar race, one major question has been out there for several months: where will Unbroken fit in? It’s based on a huge bestseller by Lauren Hillenbrand. It’s directed by Angelina Jolie. The screenplay was written by Joel and Ethan Coen. The true story of Olympic track star Louis Zamperini, who was stranded in the Pacific and then held captive at Japanese POW camps during World War II, seems right up Oscar’s alley. Conventional wisdom is that if Unbroken was a critical darling, it would be a force to be reckoned with during awards season.

Today marked the day when reviews trickled out. The verdict? Mixed. Very mixed. It currently sits at just 50% on Rotten Tomatoes (a number that will probably rise). Industry Bible Variety wasn’t impressed. Add that up and I’ll make a declarative statement I couldn’t make until now:

Unbroken is not going to win Best Picture.

Whether it gets nominated is another story. It could still be a big hit at the box office, which wouldn’t hurt. And its source material is well-regarded which could sway voters to at least include it among the eight to ten likely Best Picture nominees. It’s no guarantee anymore, but I’ll still predict Unbroken manages a nod.

Angelina Jolie’s inclusion in the Director race is now very questionable. She would appear behind Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman), Ava DuVernay (Selma), and Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game), as well as other potentials like Christopher Nolan (Interstellar), David Fincher (Gone Girl), James Marsh (The Theory of Everything), and Rob Marshall (Into the Woods). She could still sneak in, but it won’t be as easy as once thought.

The Best Actor race is seen as four-way competition between Michael Keaton (Birdman), Benedict Cumberbatch (Imitation Game), Eddie Redmayne (Theory of Everything), and David Oyelowo (Selma). Jack O’Connell, who plays Zamperini, is receiving positive notices and could nab the fifth slot, but his serious competition includes Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year), Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), and Bradley Cooper (American Sniper).

I have included Japanese singer Miyavi in my Supporting Actor predictions over the past couple of months. He plays the role of a sadistic Japanese army sergeant and I still believe he stands the best shot at a nomination (reviews have singled him out).

Luckily for Unbroken, the Best Adapted Screenplay race is pretty weak this year and it could still earn recognition for the Coen Brothers screenplay.

However, beyond its seemingly now non-existent chances of a Picture win, Unbroken is unlikely to win any of the categories mentioned above. What a difference a day makes.


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