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

interstellar space craft on water 600x337
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
Main Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Mackenzie Foy, Bill Irwin, Wes Bentley, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon, David Gyasi, Topher Grace, Ellen Burstyn, and David Oyelowo, among others…
Past Oscar relations: Burstyn, Caine, Damon, Hathaway, and McConaughey are previous Oscar winners, while Affleck, Chastain, and both Nolans are Academy Award nominees in prior years

Today we have another brand spanking new article in this particular series of mine concerning certain high profile 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 one of the biggest contenders of the year in Interstellar. It’s an epic that’s hoping to become the blockbuster in the Best Picture race. Does it have a strong chance? Well, let me get into that a little bit now…

This movie is a science fiction adventure/drama set in the near-ish future. Earth is dying and a last ditch mission to save it is set up by what remains of NASA. A former engineer and pilot turned farmer is chosen to lead the way and must leave his children behind in order to save mankind. I could say more, but the less you know going in, the more wonder that’s going to be in store for you all. Interstellar stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Mackenzie Foy, Bill Irwin, Wes Bentley, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon, David Gyasi, Topher Grace, Ellen Burstyn, Timothée Chalamet, David Oyelowo, and Collette Wolfe. Christopher Nolan directs and co-writes with his brother Jonathan Nolan. They all combine to literally make magic happen. Now, will Oscar recognize these achievements?

What this film has going in its favor is the incredible ambition on display. Not only do I feel that this is Nolan’s best work behind the camera to date, it’s also his most emotional by far. There’s a ton of heart here, which voters will probably respond to. Not only is his direction flawless, the writing is complex and super compelling. Throw in the top notch performances, especially by McConaughey (as well as by Chastain and Damon), and that makes for across the board potential, including the technical achievements of cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, composer Hans Zimmer, and editor Lee Smith, just to name a few. If the Academy goes for this flick in nearly the way that I did, it’ll lead the nomination totals on the big morning. A perfect world has it getting a dozen citations even.

Working against Interstellar is that it hasn’t been as rapturously received across the board as it would have liked. That’s just critics though, and they still are pretty positive on the movie. It just isn’t the hands down unanimous praise that some prestige films receive right out of the gate. This won’t be the sort of situation where a shut out comes anywhere close to happening, but if it somehow leaves Oscar voters feeling cold, they could snub it in some of the bigger categories. I don’t really see Academy members doing that, but anything is possible at this point in the game. Realistically, the worst case scenario is still closer to a half dozen nods than no noms at all.

So, can this be a player at all? I think that it’s going to contend for a double digit nomination total, with wins certainly attainable in the technical categories. The big eight categories are harder to read right now, but I wouldn’t bet against Interstellar getting to ten nominations without too much trouble. Wins will be another story, but there’s at least a chance that this could be the title that takes Best Picture and Best Director. We’ll have to wait until the guilds and precursors really get going in full to have any real idea of how the Academy might feel, but Interstellar is a must watch, and that never hurts. Even without any of the Oscar buzz, I’d say that you all can’t miss this one. The fact that it’s going to be one of the more nominated films overall just adds fuel to the fire. This is a movie that has to be seen in order to be believed, preferably on the biggest screen possible.

Grade: Likely Contender (across the board)

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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