“Nightcrawler”: What’s Up with the 2015 Awards Race

nightcrawler jake gyllenhaal 600x356
Directed by: Dan Gilroy
Written by: Dan Gilroy
Main Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, and Riz Ahmed, among others…
Past Oscar relations: Gyllenhaal is a former Academy Award nominee, cited in Best Supporting Actor for Brokeback Mountain

Today we have another article in this particular series of mine concerning certain 2014 releases hoping to compete for some sort of actual Oscar attention as a contender at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for here for us is a nifty little thriller in Nightcrawler that’s hoping to translate its very solid festival run and use that buzz in order to appeal to the Academy, potentially getting some attention in a few different categories. Does it have any chance? Well, let me get into that a bit now below…

This movie is a thriller set within the world of news reporting…well, sort of. We follow a potential sociopath as he discovers the industry of filming crime scenes and selling them to morning news programs. He takes to it like a fish to water and soon is making a name for himself in the business, by any means necessary. Jake Gyllenhaal stars in the lead role, with a solid supporting cast that includes Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed, and Ann Cusack, to name a few. Dan Gilroy writes and directs. Ever since it debuted on the fall festival circuit, it’s been winning people over. Now, can it do the same with Academy members?

What this film has going in its favor is the strong performances, mainly the lead one from Gyllenhaal, which is startlingly good. He’s easily worthy of an Oscar nomination in Best Actor, though with a crowded year like this one, no one is assured of anything. That being said, it’s a distinctive enough performance that it could definitely stand out in the crowd. Especially if Gyllenhaal catches on during the precursors and becomes someone to watch in Best Actor, that can only help the chances of the movie in Best Supporting Actress for Russo and Best Original Screenplay for Gilroy. The flick is unlike anything else in the race, which never hurts.

Working against Nightcrawler is that it’s potentially going to be deemed by voters as too cool for school. It’s a unique film, but it could suffer the same fate as Drive, getting pigeonholed as something slick and not worthy of a voter’s attention. They were wrong then, and they’d be wrong now to dismiss the movie out of hand, but it is potentially something to watch out for. From time to time a cooler nominee comes through, but often it has some kind of a big time filmmaker helping to get the old fashioned Oscar voters on board. That’s going to be the test here…will Academy members go for this? It’s possible, but I think it’s very possible that an unfortunate shut out could occur.

So, can this be a player at all? I think that it’s going to have a tough but not impossible time cracking any Oscar lineup. Gyllenhaal in Best Actor is clearly Nightcrawler’s best bet at a nod, but Russo in Best Supporting Actress and Gilroy in Best Original Screenplay are the other opportunities for the film to get a nom. I will say that anything is possible, so while a shut out situation is definitely in play, it’s hardly a guarantee. Regardless of that, this is a film well worth seeing, so be sure to check it out this weekend and follow along this season to see how it winds up doing…

Grade: Possible Contender (mainly in Best Actor)

Stay tuned for another one of these profiles coming your way next week!

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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