Oscar Watch: Clemency

35 years ago, Alfre Woodard received a Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for Cross Creek. She hasn’t nabbed another one since, despite heralded roles in pictures such as Passion Fish and Down in the Delta. When it comes to her television work, it’s an entirely different story as she’s had 18 Emmy nominations and won four.

Clemency, in which Woodard plays a prison warden, debuted in January at the Sundance Film Festival and the actress is earning some of the best reviews of her career. The film itself holds an impressive 96% Rotten Tomatoes rating prior to its late December release (Neon picked up distribution rights).

The likelihood is that any Oscar attention will center solely on its star. Aldis Hodge is also garnering critical kudos, but the Supporting Actor category is jam packed already. In my latest Academy forecast, I have Woodard listed in sixth. I’ve found myself indecisive every week about her inclusion.

Bottom line: it’s no slam dunk, but Clemency could well provide this acclaimed actress a second trip to the red carpet. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Biggest Little Farm

After playing the festival circuit last fall and early this year, The Biggest Little Farm cultivated a decent limited release debut this weekend. The documentary follows a married couple who move from Los Angeles to agricultural country in SoCal to pursue farming. John Chester, whose short docs on Oprah Winfrey’s network has earned him Emmys, directs.

The film has garnered praise from critics (94% on Rotten Tomatoes) and environmentalists.  As mentioned, Farm first screened last fall in Toronto and has played at multiple fests since including Telluride and Sundance. Neon picked up distribution rights and a theater count expansion is planned for Friday.

If this manages to stay on the radar screen for Academy voters, it stands an outside shot at a Documentary Feature nod. That could be a tall order if competition heats up as the year rolls along, which is probable. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Apollo 11

Focused on the mission that put a man on the moon a half century ago, the documentary Apollo 11 launched in select cities this weekend to solid box office results. The feature is directed by Todd Douglas Miller and it first garnered buzz during its January screenings at the Sundance Film Festival. Critics landed firmly in its camp as it currently stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Apollo took in approximately $1.6 million on 120 screens for a laudable $13,000 per theater average. There are likely to be numerous docs contending for the Academy’s attention. Neon and CNN Films will need to mount a campaign that keeps this in the voters minds for months, but that’s feasible. It’s worth keeping an eye on for a Best Documentary Feature nod.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…