December 10, 2016

Oscars: Get to know a Best Picture nominee: “Captain Phillips”

Captain Phillips
Directed by: Paul Greengrass

Written by: Billy Ray

Main cast members: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Catherine Keener, Max Martini, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Michael Chernus

Number of Oscar nominations in total: 6

Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Supporting Actor (Abdi), Best Adapted Screenplay (Ray), Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing

Notable precursor wins: Won Best Adapted Screenplay at the Writers Guild of America Awards, Won Best Supporting Actor at the London Critics Circle Film Awards, and Won Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic at the American Cinema Editors ACE Eddie Awards

Chances at winning Best Picture: A long shot contender, but not the longest of shots in the lineup

Chances at other Academy Award wins: Perhaps the new frontrunner for Best Film Editing, with a fighter’s chance at Best Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, plus a potential spoiler in Best Adapted Screenplay

ANALYSIS OF OTHER OSCAR NOMINEES: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and HER.

Captain Phillips is the third film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s the first that’s not a major contender in this category. Early on in the season, it was considered a potential frontrunner for the award, and at the very least for Tom Hanks in Best Actor. Obviously Hanks was snubbed by the Academy, and so was director Paul Greengrass and cinematographer Barry Ackroyd for that matter, but the movie itself still managed a half dozen Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. It wound up with a very decent haul, making it a film that really needs to have an eye kept on it. Maybe not in the Best Picture race, but somewhere.

Working in Captain Phillips’ favor is momentum. After a number of months spent not winning anything (though it picked up some nominations), it took Best Adapted Screenplay from the Writers Guild in a relative upset. Factor in the recent ACE Eddie win that suggests that it could take the Oscar for Best Film Editing, and it shows that the flick still has life in it yet. Enough to win Best Picture? Probably not, but it’s kept it in play for other awards, whereas up until a few weeks ago it was destined to go home empty handed.

If you’re looking for something that’s not in this film’s favor, it’s the simple fact that it missed out in Best Director and has only gained some momentum in lesser categories. Without any Best Picture citations throughout the precursor season, it sets up an almost insurmountable hurdle for the movie to overcome. It would go against everything history has taught us to see a Captain Phillips victory in the big category.

So will this movie somehow be able to win Best Picture? Logic and the odds say no, but hypothetically anything is possible. Still, it would be one of the biggest shocks in Oscar history if Captain Phillips managed to win. We’ll find out for sure in a few weeks though…

Stay tuned for the rest of my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” pieces in the days to come, with Dallas Buyers Club up next!

ANALYSIS OF OTHER OSCAR NOMINEES: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and HER.

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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