Jamie Neish: All up for grabs at Oscars

The Imitation Game. Picture: AP
The Imitation Game. Picture: AP
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As the dust partly settles on much of the fall film festival season, there’s still no clear Academy Award frontrunner in sight.

It’s a little bit hasty to be taking about the Oscars this early, considering there are as many as six months to go until the big ceremony, but many of this year’s big, awards-friendly films have now had their premieres, and none seem to be in terribly strong positions.

Films like The Imitation Game, pictured, Wild, The Theory of Everything and Birdman were, a mere few weeks ago, seen as frontrunners. But, even after solid word following initial screenings, most have lost much of their buzzy momentum.

There’s still a couple of big films yet to hit. Gone Girl, which has attracted some seriously tantalising early reviews, hits cinemas next week, while Inherent Vice, Paul Thomas Anderson’s highly-secretive new film, will soon screen at the New York Film Festival.

Tim Burton is also yet to unleash Big Eyes, and the likes of Into the Woods, an A-list heavy musical, A Most Violent Year and Angelina Jolie’s sophomore directorial effort Unbroken are all yet to be seen, so a hit could be on its way.

But at this time last year, Gravity was all but a certainty for some kind of awards win and 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle and Nebraska were all in cinemas.

It may well be that this year there’s no one frontrunner, which could award solid smaller films with a bigger chance of entering the race. And that’s certainly no bad thing. Films such as Starred Up, Obvious Child and Only Lovers Left Alive are all strong contenders, but would otherwise be considered long shots.

But not this year. This year the Academy Award race is wide open. And for once it makes the ceremony a thing to be excited about, rather than the obvious eventuality it’s become.