Entertainment

10 Fantastic Oscar-Bait Moments and How to Find Them

Gleaning Academy Award Predictions from Trailers

By Sam Eichner ·
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Today, the 90 or so members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the nominees for this year’s Golden Globes.

Yes, that means awards season is in full swing. And so is Oscar nomination handicapping.

Based on these Golden Globe nominations, as is tradition, members of the commentariat will expend many words predicting whom the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will bestow with a nomination in January and a statuette in February.

Sure, that’s one way to do it.

But we’re choosing to read the tea leaves from another source: the trailers for 10 forthcoming movies. Through analysis and close inspection we can determine the Academy Award chances based on their hidden Oscar bait.

Why are we doing this?

Why not. It’s Monday.

The Founder
Release date: December 7 (limited).
Why it’s an awards movie: It tells the uniquely American story of Ray Kroc—the so-called founder of McDonald’s—whose capitalistic... let’s say “instincts” are reflected in today’s society; Michael Keaton is the star, and he has an accent; a well-known comedian, Nick Offerman, is cast in a serious supporting role.
Oscar-baiting moment from the trailer: 1:03-1:10. When Michael Keaton says, in a prophetic speech, that “McDonald’s can be the new American church. And it ain’t just open on Sundays, boys.”
Most likely nomination, based on nothing much: Michael Keaton, for Best Actor.

Collateral Beauty
Release date: December 16.
Why it’s an awards movie: A grieving father (Will Smith) starts writing letters to abstract concepts—“Time”; “Death”; “Love”—and begins to receive answers from their respective personifications. Tears, catharsis and more tears ensue. Also, “Helen Mirren plays Death” is a true thing you can say about it.
Oscar-baiting moment from the trailer: 1:13-1:17. A lucid, happy flashback of Will Smith and his daughter followed by the line: “Did you lose a child, Howard?”
Most likely nomination, based on nothing much: Helen Mirren, for Best Supporting Actress.

Fences
Release date: December 16 (limited).
Why it’s an awards movie: Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reprise their roles from the 2010 Broadway revival of the August Wilson play.
Oscar-baiting moment from the trailer: 1:38-1:44. Viola Davis explodes at Denzel with a very runny nose. Yeah. She goes there.
Most likely nomination, based on nothing much: Viola Davis, for Best Actress. The hype machine is up and running, and probably for good reason.

Patriots Day
Release date: December 21 (limited).
Why it’s an awards movie: It’s Peter Berg’s movie about the Boston Marathon bombing. But it’s really about the triumph of good (America) versus evil (the terrorists).
Oscar-baiting moment from the trailer: 2:09-2:10. Mark Wahlberg, playing a dedicated cop, crying with frustration into his wife’s belly. It’s sort of Hollywood shorthand for “broken man.”
Most likely nomination, based on nothing much: This seems like it could be one of those movies nominated for Best Picture and nothing else.

A Monster Calls
Release date: December 23 (limited).
Why it’s an awards movie: It’s a visually stunning fable that’s a kids’ movie but also not really a kids’ movie, if you know what we mean.
Oscar-baiting moment from the trailer: 1:43-1:48. A teary-eyed, bedridden Felicity Jones tells her son that, if he needs to break things, he can break things—i.e., it’s okay to be angry at the universe that his mother is dying, and holy shit, this is sad.
Most likely nomination, based on nothing much: Felicity Jones, for Best Actress.

Silence
Release date: December 23 (limited).
Why it’s an awards movie: It’s a Martin Scorsese picture about faith starring Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver, all of whom look like they lost weight for their roles.
Oscar-baiting moment from the trailer: 1:53-1:55. Andrew Garfield writhes on the ground in what looks to be a pretty physically and emotionally demanding writhe on the ground.
Most likely nomination, based on nothing much: Martin Scorsese, for Best Director. Also, Andrew Garfield, for Best Actor, because of the writhing.

20th Century Women
Release date: December 25 (limited).
Why it’s an awards movie: It’s a tender coming-of-age story set in 1979 starring Annette Bening and an all-grown-up Elle Fanning from the director of the formidably tender, Oscar-winning film Beginners.
Oscar-baiting moment from the trailer: 1:21-1:22. Elle Fanning riding a bike with a cigarette dangling from her lips, which communicates, in one frame, the entirety of capital-A Adolescence.
Most likely nomination, based on nothing much: Elle Fanning, for Best Actress. The child-star-turned-serious-actress narrative is working in her favor here.

Live by Night
Release date: December 25 (limited).
Why it’s an awards movie: 1:07-1:13. It’s Ben Affleck’s adaption of Dennis Lehane’s Prohibition-era crime novel. Good things generally happen when you adapt Dennis Lehane novels (see: Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River and Shutter Island).
Oscar-baiting moment from the trailer: A big white car driving through town with fireworks in slow motion, fading into a shot of a speedboat in some crystalline body of water, and the line “This is heaven.”
Most likely nomination, based on nothing much: Best Picture.

Gold
Release date: December 25 (limited).
Why it’s an awards movie: It’s 1) a movie wherein Matthew McConaughey undergoes a physical transformation; 2) a movie about ’80s excess.
Oscar-baiting moment from the trailer: 2:01-2:02. When everything starts going to shit—gold mining in Indonesia is a risky business—McConaughey chucks a glass of probably expensive scotch at the wall.
Most likely nomination, based on nothing much: Stephen Gaghan, for Best Director. The Academy has already shown him some love for Traffic.

I Am Not Your Negro
Release date: February 3.
Why it’s an awards movie: It’s a filmic essay about/by writer James Baldwin, who seems to be enjoying revived interest in his work at the moment. Maybe enjoying isn’t the right word...
Oscar-baiting moment from the trailer: 0:01-1:04. On a whole, they’ve spliced footage of Baldwin speaking about race with images of contemporary African-Americans. Just in case you weren’t aware that Baldwin’s ideas are as vital today as they were in the ’60s and ’70s...
Most likely nomination, based on nothing much: Best Documentary Feature.

Sam Eichner likes literature, reality television and his twin cats equally. He has consistently been told he needs a shave since he started growing facial hair.

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