Oscar Watch: The Martian

Ridley Scott’s sci fi pic The Martian premiered at the Toronto Film Festival over the weekend prior to its October 2 domestic release and the results are quite promising. With an all star cast including Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sean Bean and Chiwetel Ejiofor, The Martian has struck the fancy of critics to the tune of a 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

How will this translate to Oscar attention? Hard to say. Reviews have noted that this is a crowd pleaser and the more box office success it achieves, the better that bodes for a Best Picture nod. I’d still say it’s likely on the outside looking in, but that could certainly change if some future autumn releases don’t meet expectations. I could actually envision a somewhat long shot scenario of Scott receiving a directing nomination with the film itself left out.

As for actors, Damon has gotten strong notices and could find himself in contention, though I wouldn’t include him yet. Chastain has been singled out as well, but competition in Supporting Actress could leave her out. The Martian’s greatest chance at Academy focus is probably tech races like Cinematography, Visual Effects and Sound categories. As far as the bigger ticket races, Toronto did prove that this is something worth keeping in mind as the months roll on.

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