Richard Linklater and “Boyhood” continue to dominate the early precursors

"Boyhood" Los Angeles Special Screening - Arrivals

We’ve only just begun with the first section of the precursor season, focusing in on the critics groups and their awards, but a trend is already emerging. The trend in question? A ton of love for Richard Linklater and his film Boyhood. Yes, the little film that could is quickly becoming a huge force to be reckoned with and solidifying its status as a frontrunner in a number of major Oscar categories. It’s way too early in the awards season to truly know how things will shake out, but if you’re playing the odds, Boyhood has to be in the number one spot all over the place. The Academy may or may not ultimately line up like that, but the early precursors are sure making that case right now.

Boyhood was always the most likely of the early year releases to make a notable splash with Oscar voters, so it’s no surprise that this initial beginning of the first phase of the precursor season is seeing it cited heavily. What’s more notable is that it’s really beating back a lot of its main late year release competition. Sure, Birdman has popped up here and there, along with A Most Violent Year once and Snowpiercer once as well, but we haven’t seen The Imitation Game or Selma win anything major yet, to name it’s two prime competitors in Best Picture.

Speaking of Best Picture, any ranking of the contenders at the moment has to begin with Boyhood. It’s at the top right now, with some combination of Birdman, The Imitation Game, Selma, and whatever other contender you prefer, be it A Most Violent Year or something else like Gone Girl, in the two through five spots. That top slot is all Boyhood though, as of today. I suspect it’ll more or less continue like this throughout the early stages of precursor season, leading up until the guilds have a chance to impact the race. With Best Picture, it’ll be the Producers Guild of America award that either crowns Boyhood or turns the tide towards something else (likely Selma, if I had to guess what the alternative will be). Until then, it should be, aside from perhaps the Golden Globes, nearly a clean sweep for Boyhood.

Looking a bit at Best Director, it’s a similar situation. Yes, a few more votes here will get picked off in favor of Birdman’s Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, but Linklater should still walk away with the most wins from the critics groups. Much like with Picture, that’ll continue on until potentially the guild switches things up. In tho case, that would be the Directors Guild of America award, which could go to Inarritu perhaps, but until then, Linklater is the smart bet here. The other place to look for Linklater is in Best Original Screenplay. This category could wind up all over the place, but Linklater is going to be cited a bunch here as well, though so will Birdman, just to name one competitor. It’s still the frontrunner, but it will all depend on how things shake out during the rest of the season.

In terms of the acting categories, Ethan Hawke is likely to be nominated but probably won’t be a factor for the win, while Ellar Coltrane is a long shot in Best Actor, though Patricia Arquette is really firming up her Best Supporting Actress frontrunner status. Coltrane and Hawke aren’t expected to win anything, precursor wise, but Arquette has been racking them up so far. Not only has she been beating back primary competition Jessica Chastain (for A Most Violent Year) and Emma Stone (for Birdman), but Arquette even has a Best Actress win from one group to go along with her Supporting Actress wins. I don’t think her Oscar win is a forgone conclusion, but until the Screen Actors Guild award comes through, I wouldn’t bet against her.

Assume all of this continues, Oscar will likely cite Boyhood in at least half a dozen categories, with perhaps more if they really fall for the flick. Unless the precursors throw a real curveball, expect nominations in Best Picture, Best Director for Linklater, Best Supporting Actor for Hawke, Best Supporting Actress for Arquette, Best Original Screenplay for Linklater, and Best Film Editing. Should the Academy go wild for the film, then Best Cinematography and Best Original Song could be in play as well. One long shot that won’t happen but would really show how big a player this is? Lorelei Linklater also shows up in Best Supporting Actress. Without exaggerating, Boyhood might wind up four or five wins when all is said and done.

In the end, Boyhood is managing to be as big an awards contender so far as we’d all speculated, if not perhaps even a bigger one. It’s going to be very interesting to see how voters handle this as the frontrunner. It’ll either run away with everything or a last minute backlash might occur. I’m thinking that the former is more likely than the latter, but time will tell…

Stay tuned to see how Boyhood does going forward in the precursor season!

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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