Is Boyhood an Oscar Contender?

After a rather shaky debut on Access Hollywood before disappearing from the internet for two days, the entire Boyhood trailer finally made an appearance overnight. If you’re like me, a massive fan of Richard Linklater and born in the 80s or 90s, after watching the trailer 10 times, you may have been thinking about two things:

1. This is going to be a rather large nostalgia trip I’m going to need some tissues for, and

2. I hope this is the film that Linklater makes his big awards breakthrough with

Now, of course, Linklater’s been nominated for Oscars before, including only last year for writing Before Midnight (my top film of 2013) with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. He’s been around for a long time turning around consistently standout work, yet never quite reaching the top, mostly due to release date, lack of campaign or wide release, the usual things that stop a film from reaching the big stage. But last year, there was something about Before Midnight that felt like Linklater was just about on the cusp of receiving his first Best Picture nomination, on the fringe of most journalists predictions. It was still a long shot, but you couldn’t deny that the momentum felt much larger than ever before, that he was finally reaching some kind of critical and audience equilibrium, distributors putting the most financial confidence in his work since School of Rock. 

Of course, the quality of the film’s all for nothing if the studio isn’t behind it. IFC isn’t your run-of-the-mill awards distributor. Only 33 of its over 300 films have made it past $1 million at the box office. Simply put, it just doesn’t have the money to throw itself behind a massive awards campaign that the Best Picture and Director categories require. But this time, there’s something different – they’ve already planned the film to expand to wide release a mere week after its limited debut. Films released by IFC rarely make it beyond 100 theatres, in fact, the last time one was in wide release was the surprise box office smash My Big Fat Greek Wedding all the way back in 2002. It went on to be one of the highest grossing films in US box office history, even receiving a…you guessed it, an Oscar nomination for a screenplay from a first-time feature writer.

There is definitely the looming chance of suffering the same fate that Before Midnight did in 2013, where I was desperately hoping for nominations for picture, director, and actress. This time around though, I feel as though how close Linklater got in 2013 and the close proximity of yet another critical slam dunk may work in favour of Boyhood, the conversation carrying over to what is obviously going to be the critical champion and maybe the breakout film of the summer box office season (the trailer premiered on Access Hollywood, that’s got to amount to some kind of audience draw), a combination of which make or break a campaign.

It’s in your hands, IFC. I hope your obvious confidence in this film leads to Richard Linklater finally reaching cinema’s highest honours after over 20 years.

-Ella

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