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Oscar Watch: Could 'The Spectacular Now' Pull It Off?

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio | Thompson on Hollywood November 6, 2013 at 7:00AM

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. So what are the film's award chances?
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"The Spectacular Now"
'The Spectacular Now'

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.

This article is related to: Awards, The Spectacular Now , James Ponsoldt, Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller, Awards, Awards Season Roundup


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.