The Telluride Film Festival is happening this weekend and that means a slew of autumn Academy hopefuls are getting their first exposure. My Oscar Watch series continues with Ben Younger’s Bleed for This. This is the true life tale of boxer Vinny Paz (Miles Teller), who defied all odds to make it back to the ring after breaking his neck.
Movies focused on the sweet science have had a history with Oscar voters. 1976’s Rocky came out of nowhere to punch out all competitors. 2004’s Million Dollar Baby also won Picture, as did its director (Clint Eastwood), Actress (Hilary Swank), and Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman). 1980’s Raging Bull and 2010’s The Fighter received multiple nods. Just last year, Sylvester Stallone was nominated once again as Mr. Balboa in Creed.
As for the film in question, Bleed for This has received mostly positive notices thus far. However, some have mentioned it borrows plenty of cliches (some from the aforementioned films). It doesn’t appear to be a genuine threat in Picture or Director. Mr. Teller missed out on a nod with 2014’s Whiplash as all attention went to his costar J.K. Simmons in Supporting. The lead actor race looks lighter than usual on paper this year, but he still could face an uphill battle for inclusion. Aaron Eckhart is said to give strong work as his trainer here and he may stand the best chance at recognition (though I’m not currently putting him in).
The Oscar Watch will roll on as further hopefuls are unveiled.