Oscars: Get to know a Best Picture nominee: “Dallas Buyers Club”

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Dallas Buyers Club

Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée

Written by: Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack

Main cast members: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Denis O’Hare, Steve Zahn, Dallas Roberts, Griffin Dunne, Michael O’Neill

Number of Oscar nominations in total: 6

Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Actor (McConaughey), Best Supporting Actor (Leto), Best Original Screenplay (Borten and Wallack), Best Film Editing, and Best Hairstyling & Makeup

Notable precursor wins: Won Best Actor/Supporting Actor at the Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

Chances at winning Best Picture: A rather long shot contender frankly, though not the absolute longest of shots in the lineup this year

Chances at other Academy Award wins: Frontrunner in Best Actor and Supporting Actor, while also perhaps the frontrunner in Best Hairstyling & Makeup

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

Dallas Buyers Club is the fourth film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s another movie that’s not a major contender in this category. That being said, it could wind up being one of the biggest winners overall at the Oscars. Early on in the precursor season, this flick wasn’t thought of as a particularly big contender (outside of Jared Leto, who seemed like a lock for Supporting Actor from the start of the season), but it just kept showing up in all the right places, especially once Matthew McConaughey started to pick up the important Best Actor prizes. Now, it’s among the more highly represented titles of 2013, potentially on the verge of leaving the Academy Awards with the second most statues of any nominated film.

Working in Dallas Buyers Club’s favor is the fact that it’s highly unlikely that this movie goes home empty handed. Best Supporting Actor is almost wrapped up in a bow for Leto, while McConaughey is the odds on favorite to take Best Actor as well, and that doesn’t even take into consideration that Best Hairstyling & Makeup is a crapshoot, so there could be a trio of victories for this movie. Aside from Gravity, no other contender knows it’s going to potentially win that many. That’s an enviable spot to be in. The flick might not be nearly as likely a Best Picture winner as 12 Years a Slave or American Hustle, but it could score more wins overall.

If you’re looking for something that’s not in this film’s favor, it’s the fact that despite scoring Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay nominations, the only thing really talked about for this flick is the acting. No one is championing its writing (or editing for that matter). It’s an acting showcase that parlayed that admiration into some other nods. That puts it at the bottom of the Best Picture race, despite a half dozen noms from the Academy. Basically, these citations don’t give it any real shot in the big category, but they do give it a potential leg up in those acting races.

So will this movie somehow be able to defy the odds and win Best Picture? It’d be an all time shocker of an upset, that’s for sure, but it doesn’t have the absolute worst chance among this field. Still, that doesn’t mean it had any realistic chance…since it doesn’t. Still, it could wind up with more Academy Awards than the film that does wind up taking the top prize, so there’s that. We’ll see what happens though on March 2nd, when the show goes down…

Stay tuned for the rest of my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” pieces in the days to come, with Gravity the nominee 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 contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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