“The Fault in Our Stars”: Oscar Contenders from the First Half

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We’re officially on to the second half of the year folks, and as such, it makes sense to look back a bit and see where we stand, awards wise through six months. As such, today I’ll be going over which films are the most likely Oscar contenders from January through June. Also, I’ll do an added bonus by showing you what the Academy Award nominations could look like if only films from the first half were eligible. If nothing else, it’ll be a random fun tidbit to chew on. Here goes nothing…

Special note, this doesn’t include contenders that screened at festivals but aren’t hitting theaters until July or later. As such, Sundance hits like Boyhood and Whiplash won’t be seen here, even though they’re easily bigger contenders than any you’ll see below. The same goes for Cannes debuts like The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Foxcatcher, and Mr. Turner, since we’ll be getting into those in a bigger way soon. They’ll have their moments shortly, but for now, let us give the first half long shots some love!

These are the ten films I’d say are the most likely to make some kind of a play for Oscar love:

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel – If there’s a film from the first half that has any chance of making a play for Best Picture, it’s Wes Anderson’s latest. Ralph Fiennes and the Screenplay itself seem likely to at least be heavily in contention, so when building a list of what could translate from the first half to the second half, this has to be high up there on that list.

2. The Fault in Our Stars – Depending on how this holds up once awards season starts, the tearjerker could either turn into an under the radar contender or be forgotten about completely. Shailene Woodley’s stunning performance, Laura Dern’s heartbreaking supporting turn, and the tender Adapted Screenplay should make the transition to the actual Oscar season, if nothing else. It could be boom or bust for this one, frankly.

3. Begin Again – I have a feeling voters will remember this one come the end of the year and at the very least consider it in a few places. John Carney caught their eye once with, well…Once, so he’s not an unknown. Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and the Original Screenplay have chances, while I think a Best Original Song nomination is pretty likely right now. Don’t count this one out.

4. Chef – On a similar front, Jon Favreau’s passion project will have fans in the Academy, but will it have enough to not be completely forgotten about? Favreau’s script will possibly be in play, while there’s an outside chance that his performance could catch on as well. Stay tuned.

5. The LEGO Movie – If this was a year of mandatory ten nominees for Best Picture, I’d say this animated delight is in. But since it’s a sliding scale and animation has suffered with this way of voting, it’s going to have a harder road ahead. Not an impossible one, mind you, but an uphill battle for sure. If nothing else, it’ll have Best Animated Feature and maybe even Best Original Song to play around in.

6. The Immigrant – Once upon a time, this seemed like an Oscar frontrunner. Through no real fault of its own the movie got a poor release and now will struggle for attention. The tech categories are a possibility and there’s a chance of a late season revival for James Gray’s period piece, but the odds aren’t in its favor. If it can beat those odds, Marion Cotillard could score a surprise nomination perhaps.

7. Snowpiercer – Too offbeat to be truly considered, right now at least it’s an outside possibility. Once more contenders are seen, it’ll fade away, but at the moment it has a unique vision that stands out. I wouldn’t completely count it out of Best Original Screenplay or Best Visual Effects, but I wouldn’t bet on nods there either. Any nom at all will be a shocker.

8. Belle – Had this been released in the heart of awards season, I think it would have gotten lost in the shuffle. Having been a first half release, the same will wind up happening in terms of voters forgetting about it, but the film is one that normally would appeal to the Academy. Gugu Mbatha-Raw got some initial buzz for her turn in the title role, but it’s basically a fringe contender at best now.

9. Under the Skin – In no universe would Oscar truly embrace this weird flick, but it’s so haunting that if their options were limited, we could have a Tree of Life lil situation where a small block of supporters carries the day. It won’t happen now, but in this alternate universe, it could have, I suppose. Scarlett Johansson’s performance at least deserves some kind of honor.

10. Locke – I’m sure almost no voters saw this experimental film, but if they did, I have to believe that Tom Hardy’s performance stayed with them. Enough to vote for him in six months? Probably not, but still. Hardy is so good here, I hope someone gives it a look at least.

Honorable Mention: Edge of Tomorrow, Enemy, Fading Gigolo, Godzilla, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Le Week-End, Neighbors, Noah, Only Lovers Left Alive, and The Railway Man

And here’s what an Oscar lineup could look like if only first half releases were eligible…

Best Picture

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. The Fault in Our Stars
3. Begin Again
4. Chef
5. The LEGO Movie
6. The Immigrant
7. Snowpiercer
8. Belle
9. Under the Skin
10. Noah

Best Director

1. Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. James Gray – The Immigrant
3. John Carney – Begin Again
3. Darren Aronofsky – Noah
5. Josh Boone – The Fault in Our Stars

Best Actor

1. Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. Tom Hardy – Locke
3. Mark Ruffalo – Begin Again
4. Jake Gyllenhaal – Enemy
5. Colin Firth – The Railway Man

Best Actress

1. Shailene Woodley – The Fault in Our Stars
2. Marion Cotillard – The Immigrant
3. Scarlett Johansson – Under the Skin
4. Keira Knightley – Begin Again
5. Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Belle

Best Supporting Actor

1. Woody Allen – Fading Gigolo
2. Jeff Goldblum – Le Week-End
3. Joaquin Phoenix – The Immigrant
4. Bryan Cranston – Godzilla
5. Ansel Elgort – The Fault in Our Stars

Best Supporting Actress

1. Laura Dern – The Fault in Our Stars
2. Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer
3. Melanie Laurent – Enemy
4. Nicole Kidman – The Railway Man
5. Rose Byrne – Neighbors

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. The Fault in Our Stars
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
3. Under the Skin
4. The Railway Man
5. Edge of Tomorrow

Best Original Screenplay

1. Begin Again
2. Chef
3. The LEGO Movie
4. Snowpiercer
5. Fading Gigolo

Now, on to the second half!

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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