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Cinema Chat: Early Oscar Predictions, Interstellar And More

Indiewire will provide updates of our predictions for the 87th Academy Award nominations through January 2015, when the nominations are announced.

While no film has emerged as a full-on frontrunner, two films have been steadily hanging in the wings to potentially emerge as just that: Alejandro González Iñárritu's "Birdman" and Richard Linklater's "Boyhood." Both have the critics on their side, have proved commercially successful (at least thus far, in the case of the two weeks out "Birdman") and have sustained -- or even continued to build -- Oscar buzz since they made their debuts. At the absolute very least, they are both getting nominations. But there's simply too many films we haven't seen to lock in much else, though it's hard to imagine "The Imitation Game" not getting in as well (though it's also hard to imagine it winning).

In a fantasy situation where all the films that are left to screen are not in consideration, one would imagine "Interstellar," "Foxcatcher," "Gone Girl," "The Theory of Everything," "Mr. Turner" and "Whiplash" rounding out the best picture race (under the likely wrong assumption that there will be 9 nominees for the fourth year in a row). But there's almost no way all five of those films will survive. And unlike "Birdman" and "Boyhood," each of those films has found their awards buzz fluctuate considerably since they premiered.

What will change in the new few weeks is our understanding of what "Unbroken," "American Sniper," "Big Eyes," "Into The Woods," "A Most Violent Year," "Selma," "The Gambler" and "Exodus" are bringing to the season. If they want to be considered for critics' prizes, they'll have to screen before the end of November.  So it's likely that by that time, we'll know if one of them has what it takes to overtake "Birdman" and "Boyhood" and become the season's first full-on frontrunner.

On paper, the most likely to succeed in that regard is "Unbroken." It's the kind of true life story Oscar winners are made of: It follows World War II hero Louis "Louie" Zamperini, a former Olympic track star who survived a plane crash in the Pacific only to spend 47 days drifting on a raft, and then more than two and a half years living in several Japanese prisoner of war camps. If Jolie can pull it off (and it doesn't hurt that the Coen brothers wrote the script), it could be a force to be reckoned with. But so could any of them, really. So let's enjoy the fun of all those question marks while they last, and take in these predicted nominees with the grains of salt that come with that uncertainty.

That all said, here are our current 2015 Oscar predictions for Best Picture. Check out our predictions in other categories here. And click on each film title for more information on that film and current critics scores.

The Trio To Beat at This Point:

1. "Boyhood" (Richard Linklater)

2. "Birdman" (Alejandro González Iñárritu)

3. "The Imitation Game" (Morten Tyldum)

We Haven't Seen Them, But They Sure Have What It Takes On Paper:

4 "Unbroken" (Angelina Jolie)

5. "American Sniper" (Clint Eastwood)

6. "Selma" (Ava DuVernay)

More Iffy, But All Have Solid Shots:

7. "Gone Girl" (David Fincher)

8. "Whiplash" (Damien Chazelle)

9. "Foxcatcher" (Bennett Miller)

10. "Theory of Everything" (James Marsh)

11. "Interstellar" (Christopher Nolan)

12. "Mr. Turner" (Mike Leigh)

13. "The Grand Budapest Hotel" (Wes Anderson)

We Haven't Seen These Yet Either, and They Could Easily Shoot Up This List When We Do:

14. "A Most Violent Year" (JC Chandor)

15. "Into The Woods" (Rob Marshall)

16. "Big Eyes" (Tim Burton)

17. "The Gambler" (William Monahan)

If Some of the Above Don't Deliver, These Could Become Contenders:

18. "Wild" (Jean-Marc Vallée)

19. "Inherent Vice" (Paul Thomas Anderson)

20. "Still Alice" (Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland)

21. "Top Five" (Chris Rock)

22. "Fury" (David Ayer)

23. "Rosewater" (Jon Stewart)

24. "Love is Strange" (Ira Sachs)

25. "The Homesman" (Tommy Lee Jones)

Quentin Tarantino Compares 'Interstellar' To Andrei Tarkovsky & Terrence Malick

There are a lot of things to say about "Interstellar," but the conversation probably needs to start at the point of acknowledging that, at the studio level, we haven't seen a picture of this kind of ambition probably since, well, "Inception." Christopher Nolan's film mixes the themes, concerns and emotion of John Steinbeck, Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick into a heady movie that attempts to intersect science and love. Basically, there are few $200 million movies that have as little explosions and toy selling opportunities as "Interstellar." And thus it's not a surprise that Nolan has earned the appreciation of his colleagues.

Last month, during a talk at the New York Film Festival, Paul Thomas Anderson called Nolan's film "beautiful," urging audiences to " go see it in IMAX." And now Quentin Tarantino has put his very vocal support behind the picture too.

“It’s been a while since somebody has come out with such a big vision to things,” Tarantino told The Guardian. “Even the elements, the fact that dust is everywhere, and they’re living in this dust bowl that is just completely enveloping this area of the world. That’s almost something you expect from Tarkovsky or Malick, not a science fiction adventure movie.”

For Nolan himself, he sees his movie as sharing elements with another, more unlikely, more contemporary filmmaker and film. "For me, the film is really about being a father. The sense of your life passing you by and your kids growing up before your eyes," the director explained. "Very much what I felt watching Richard Linklater’s 'Boyhood,' an extraordinary film, which is weirdly doing the same thing in a completely different way. We are all engaged in the biggest mystery of all, which is just living through time.”

Whether it's Kubrick or Spielberg or even Linklater, the names being associated with "Interstellar" are unlike any that have greeted a Nolan picture in his career thus far (and be sure to read our retrospective). But has he made a movie that stands alongside the great pictures of all time? The filmmaker himself certainly isn't going to make that claim, but admits he swung hard for the fences.

“I’ve always believed that if you want to really try and make a great film, not a good film, but a great film, you have to take a lot of risks,” Nolan said. “It was very clear to me that if you’re going to make a film called 'Interstellar,' it’s going to have to be something extremely ambitious. You push it in all the possible directions you can. Not for its own sake, but because you know that if you’re going to try to add something to the canon, besides fiction films and all the rest, and live up to the promise of that title and the scale of that title, you really have to go there.”

"Interstellar" opens on November 5th in select cinemas and November 7th everywhere.

Interstellar in 35mm

“Interstellar” follows a group of space explorers making use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage. Their explorations are motivated by a hope for humanity in its darkest hour - set in the not so distant future. Joe McGovern of Entertainment Weekly says, “As the rare director whose singular vision is buoyed by infinite artistic freedom, Christopher Nolan would be derelict if he didn't take gargantuan risks. It's good for us that he does.” “Interstellar” continues at the State Theatre as the director intended, in a 35mm film format.

74% positive reviews:  Critics Consensus: Interstellar represents more of the thrilling, thought-provoking, and visually resplendent filmmaking moviegoers have come to expect from writer-director Christopher Nolan, even if its intellectual reach somewhat exceeds its grasp.

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times -- It's a mass audience picture that's intelligent as well as epic, with a sophisticated script that's as interested in emotional moments as immersive visuals. Which is saying a lot.

A.O. Scott, New York Times -- "Interstellar," full of visual dazzle, thematic ambition, geek bait and corn (including the literal kind), is a sweeping, futuristic adventure driven by grief, dread and regret.

Opening Downtown

In “The Two Faces of January,” intrigue begins at the Parthenon when wealthy American tourists Chester (Viggo Mortensen) and his young wife Collete (Kirsten Dunst) meet American expat Rydal (Oscar Isaac), a scammer working as a tour guide. Instead of becoming his latest marks, the two befriend him, but a murder at the couple's hotel puts all three on the run together. “The Two Faces of January” playsNovember 10 & 11 at the Michigan Theater.

Critics Consensus: With striking visuals, complex characters, and Hitchcockian plot twists, The Two Faces of January offers a pleasantly pungent treat for fans of romantic thrillers.

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times                     -- Even when the plot threatens to crumble, the actors know what to do with the pieces.

Manohla Dargis, New York Times                    -- There's a mystery here, some thrills and blood, but mostly there are beautiful people and the kind of human hunger that devours everything and everyone in sight.

In “Camp X-Ray” a young woman (Kristen Stewart) joins the military to be part of something bigger than herself and her small town roots. But she ends up as a new guard at Guantanamo Bay instead. Surrounded by hostile jihadists and aggressive squad-mates, she strikes up an unusual friendship with one of the detainees. “Camp X-Ray” plays November 12 and 13 at the Michigan Theater.

Critics Consensus: Camp X-Ray's treatment of its subject verges on the shallow, but benefits greatly from a pair of impressive performances from Kristen Stewart and Peyman Moaadi.

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times                     -- It helps if you think of "Camp X-Ray" and the prison face-off between Stewart and Maadi as a cautionary conversation unfolding more like a theater production than a movie.

Brian Truitt, USA Today -- Sattler digs into both sides of those cell doors, exploring the combative side of soldiers having to "babysit" detainees while those inside the prison walls are driven mad by their lack of sleep and unfortunate conditions.

Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice -- Stewart plays Cole with her million-dollar hair bunned up, her movie-star litheness layered beneath formless fatigues, her eyes raw, and the dusting of freckles on her cheekbones exposed.

Opening at the Multiplex

With all the heart and humor audiences expect from Walt Disney Animation Studios, "Big Hero 6" follows robotics prodigy Hiro, his brilliant brother Tadashi and their like-minded friends. When a devastating turn of events catapults them into the midst of a dangerous plot unfolding in the streets of San Fransokyo, Hiro turns to his closest companion-a robot named Baymax-and transforms the group into a band of high-tech heroes. “Big Hero 6” opens Friday.

Critics Consensus: Agreeably entertaining and brilliantly animated, Big Hero 6 hits its target audience -- even if it doesn't reach the transcendent creative heights of some recent Disney efforts.

Michael Rechtshaffen, Hollywood Reporter                     -- East meets West to immensely satisfying effect in the vibrant mash-up of an animated romp, Big Hero 6.

Peter Debruge, Variety -- There's enough that's new and different about "Big Hero 6" to get excited about, especially for those still too young for Marvel's more intense live-action fare.

Polish Film Festival returns to Downtown

Since its beginning in 1993, the Polish Film Festival has promoted Polish culture by offering audiences an opportunity to see a broad range of narrative forms and visual styles present in contemporary Polish cinema, including documentaries, animated shorts, and feature films. The festival runs from Friday to Sunday at the Michigan and State Theaters.

Special Screenings Downtown

Take an incredible ride with “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!” Dick Van Dyke stars as eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts, who creates an extraordinary car: it not only drives but also flies and floats as it leads him into a magical world of pirates, castles and endless adventure. Playing Saturday, November 8 at 1:30 PM at the State Theatre. FREE for kids 12 & under!

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” follows a boy named Hansel in Communist East Berlin who dreamed of finding his other half and becoming a big American rock star. Dreams play out as a humorous nightmare when Hansel/Hedwig escapes from Berlin, survives a botched sex change operation, only to be stranded in a Kansas trailer park the very day the Berlin Wall comes down. “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” plays Saturday, November 8 at 11:59 PM at the State Theatre.

In “The Hourglass Sanatorium,” a young man embarks on a journey to see his dying father and succumbs to a procession of hallucinatory encounters on the grounds of a mystical, dilapidated hospice. “The Hourglass Sanatorium” plays Monday, November 10 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater. Part of Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema.

“American Bear: An Adventure in the Kindness of Strangers” follows Sarah and Greg as they set out to critically explore American culture, compassion, and fear by relying on the kindness of strangers for a home each night. Traveling through 30 states in 60 days, they spend every day in a new town, learning why people may or may not be willing to open their homes.  “American Bear: An Adventure in the Kindness of Strangers” plays Tuesday, November 11 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater.

What began as just a sports club at the Kaginourin (KANO) School for agriculture and forestry in Taiwan under Japanese rule became an epic legend under an unrelenting coach who turned scrappy farm boys into unlikely national baseball heroes. “Kano,” the movie, pays homage to this true story through stunning cinematography and moving performances. “Kano” plays Wednesday, November 12 at 3 PM and 7:15 PM at the Michigan Theater.

Take a flight with “Porco Rosso,” a valiant World War I flying ace! From tropical Adriatic settings to dazzling aerial maneuvers, this action-adventure from world-renowned animator Hayao Miyazaki is full of humor, courage, and chivalry. “Porco Rosso” plays Wednesday,November 12 at 7 PM. Part of the Part of the The Studio Ghibli Collection: A 30-Year-Retrospective at the State Theatre.

In “Swearnet,” after losing a coveted TV network deal, the actors who play the Trailer Park Boys launch Swearnet, an “all swearing” on-line network.  Their comeback is complicated by their post-fame lives, at-odds relationships and trademark hilarious hedonism. “Swearnet” plays Thursday, November 13 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan Theater.

Cinema Chat: Early Oscar Predictions, Interstellar And More
Cinema Chat with Russ Collins of the Michigan Theatre