Even if you didn't buy into James Ponsoldt's earnest coming-of-age romance "The Spectacular Now," you can't deny the film's powerful lead performances. Gifted youngsters Miles Teller (26) and Shailene Woodley (21) go for broke in this genuine crowd-pleaser, talking like real teenagers, behaving like them and acting a fool as 18-year-olds do. Audiences have adored this movie since it premiered at Sundance (our review). So what are the film's award chances?
In a platform release that launched in early August, "The Spectacular Now" took home a respectable $6.8 million domestic and holds a 97% fresh rating among top critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Its early advocates include EW critic Owen Gleiberman and NY Mag's David Edelstein.
Miles Teller plays it real as the kid you knew, or maybe were, in high school whose class-clowniness hides a hardscrabble home life and a dark side. Teller will make his way to AFI FEST this Friday, joining rising stars Dane DeHaan ("Kill Your Darlings"), Greta Gerwig ("Frances Ha"), Michael B. Jordan ("Fruitvale Station") and Brie Larson ("Short Term 12") in a Young Hollywood Round Table. All these folks have been in the awards conversation for months, so why not include Teller?
Amid a tough crowd of indie nominees including "Blue Jasmine" heavyweight Cate Blanchett and "Short Term 12" breakout Brie Larson, Woodley picked up a Gotham nomination last month for Best Actress. While Larson is likely the one young actress most seriously looking at a possible Oscar nom, clearly voters and critics haven't forgotten about Woodley's lovely work as a sheltered high schooler with freckles, warts and all.
While the movie is getting support from Lionsgate for its "Divergent" star Woodley (Golden Globe-nominated for her work in "The Descendants"), as well as "Spectacular Now"'s rising indie distributor A24 ("The Bling Ring," "Spring Breakers"), which will send out screeners to critics groups this week, so far it's mostly in the hopes of snagging some Independent Spirit noms. Woodley could be heading into a banner year a la Jennifer Lawrence. But an awards bid for Best Actress is going to be tough. Check our assessment of the Best Actress Oscar race tomorrow.