An early look at year-end movie awards

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The race for year-end movie awards is picking up steam this week, with various announcements from critics groups as well as a narrowing down in a certain categories by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Earlier this week, two Austin-related documentaries made the final short list of 15 features that will contend for Oscar nominations. They are: “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” based upon the book by Austin resident and New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright and directed by Alex Gibney, and “The Look of Silence,” directed by Joshua Oppenheimer and distributed by Austin’s Drafthouse Films. It deals with survivors of an Indonesian genocide who confront the killers. (An image from the movie is pictured above.)

The other finalists are: “Amy,” the story of singer Amy Winehouse; “Best of Enemies,” the 1960s verbal slugfest between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley; “Cartel Land,” dealing with the drug wars of Mexico; “He Named Me Malala,” about the life of activist Malala Yousafzai; “Heart of a Dog,” a mediation of a pet’s death by the artist Laurie Anderson; “The Hunting Ground,” dealing with rapes on college campuses; “Listen to Me Marlon,” with Marlon Brando discussing his life; “Meru,” the mountain-climbing tale; “3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets,” about a fatal encounter between four boys and the driver of a nearby car; “We Come as Friends,” dealing with war-ravaged Sudan; “What Happened, Miss Simone?” about the life of singer Nina Simone; “Where to Invade Next,” the new film from director Michael Moore; and “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom.”

The Oscar nominations will be announced Jan. 14, with the ceremony set for Feb. 28.

But early critics awards are giving us a glimpse into what might happen.

On Wednesday, the New York Film Critics Circle helped propel the Oscar chances of “Carol,” naming it the top film, top direction (Todd Haynes), top screenplay (Phyllis Nagy) and top cinematography (Edward Lachman).

The movie, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in a 1950s lesbian love story, also got six Film Independent Spirit nominations last week. It’s tentatively scheduled to open in Austin Dec. 25.

“Spotlight,” the tale of the Boston Globe’s investigation into abuses by Catholic priests, led the recent Gotham Awards.

The Austin Film Critics Association is scheduled to announced awards Dec. 29.


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