THE ITHACAN

Accuracy • Independence • Integrity
The Student News Site of Ithaca College

THE ITHACAN

The Student News Site of Ithaca College

THE ITHACAN

Support Us
$1375
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Support Us
$1375
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Early release dates affect Oscar nominations

Early+release+dates+affect+Oscar+nominations

Throughout the long history of the Academy Awards and the highly competitive Best Picture award, we’ve frequently had to reconsider what it takes to win the big prize. The millions of dollars that studios shell out for “For Your Consideration” ads every year is indicative of how coveted winning the award is considered by the industry.

But beyond which film has the biggest campaign push or the most support by the industry, recent years have shown new, emerging patterns. If there’s one thing that we can learn from the 2024 Oscar Nominations, it’s that it’s more important than ever to get your name out there early.

There are multiple campaign strategies that studios typically take to best position their projects for awards consideration. One of them is having an early festival run, with some of the biggest festivals including Sundance, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Venice and Telluride. As an example, every TIFF People’s Choice award winner since 2012 has gone on to be nominated for or win Best Picture at the Oscars.

Film festivals also help smaller independent films get discovered. Just look at “CODA,” a huge Sundance hit in 2021 despite having a director and cast that most mainstream audiences may not recognize, aside from Marlee Matlin. “American Fiction” was Cord Jefferson’s directorial debut and still asserted itself as an undeniable force in the awards’ conversation after winning the 2023 TIFF People’s Choice Award.

Releasing around the main holidays isn’t a bad bet either — especially if you have a recognizable director behind it. Last year, there was James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water.” The year before it, Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza.” And if we look back even further, Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women,” Spielberg’s “The Post” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” also got nominated despite not playing any fall festivals — and missing a few precursor nominations.

This year, “The Iron Claw” and “The Color Purple” both missed major nominations with their late December release dates. And in the former’s case, didn’t get any nominations at all. There’s no real reason why “The Iron Claw” shouldn’t have been a huge Oscar contender. With an emotionally stirring, true story, great reviews and terrific turns from notable names like Zac Efron, Maura Tierney and Harris Dickinson, a fall festival premiere would’ve helped the film tremendously.

“The Color Purple” also got very solid reviews across the board — with a SAG ensemble nomination to its name — and fit the bill as the big studio musical that gets nominated every few years (“West Side Story,” “Les Misérables”). While the original 1985 adaptation of “The Color Purple” infamously didn’t win any awards at the Oscars, it did still get 11 nominations at the end of the day. However, with such a competitive year, the newest musical adaptation simply couldn’t squeeze in beyond a Best Supporting Actress nod for Danielle Brooks.

This year, “Barbie,” “Oppenheimer” and “Past Lives” all managed to be huge contenders while having been released over the summer. “The Zone of Interest,” “Poor Things” and “American Fiction” didn’t release theatrically until December and January, but still played limited in New York City and Los Angeles before the official end of the calendar year to meet the Academy’s rules for eligibility. While they were later releases, they crucially had film festival runs that got the industry talking about them months before the nominations came out.

Although it’s rare, movies released in the first half of the calendar year have gone on to win the top award a few times. “The Silence of the Lambs,” released during February 1991, still maintained enough momentum to win Best Picture during the March 30 ceremony in 1992.

Just last year, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” took the world by storm and redefined what it means to be an Oscar contender. It started with a premise at South by Southwest in March 2023 — a genre-based festival that’s never been seen as a launch pad for awards movies — before being released theatrically during April. The rest is history.

The movie became a huge Oscar player not because it had the biggest directors attached to it or because the movie was strategically positioned with the goal of winning awards. It won because it captured people’s hearts. It won because it stirred something in people and did something new. And so it was no surprise when the film won seven awards over a year after its original festival premiere.

There are certainly notable trends that we can look to in trying to predict the Oscars, yet it’s always important to take each year on its own terms. There’s no “one shoe fits all” approach to a successful Oscar campaign.

Because while it’s important to get voters thinking about your film early on, we’ve also seen plenty of cases where films lose steam because of frontrunner-fatigue. “The Power of the Dog,” “Boyhood” and “La La Land” are all films that played at major film festivals and were considered top contenders to win Best Picture for multiple months. These films were all acclaimed but crucially lost momentum after being out front for so long. People simply got tired of seeing the same film win over and over again.

Momentum is perhaps the most important factor of all: case in point, “CODA.” Despite winning major awards at Sundance and dropping on Apple TV+ in August 2021, the film wasn’t taken seriously as a possible Best Picture winner until it won the Screen Actors Guild Ensemble Award, Writers Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and the Producers Guild Award: all just a month before the ceremony. The film had a last minute surge that was undeniable.

This year, the winner will likely be a historical epic with “Oppenheimer,” poised to win multiple Oscars. Or maybe it’ll be a more slice-of-life holiday drama like “The Holdovers.” Or even “Poor Things.” No matter what, tracking each film’s individual momentum will be the most important factor in accurately predicting the 2024 Oscars.

Leave a Comment
Donate to THE ITHACAN
$1375
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to THE ITHACAN
$1375
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Ithacan Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *