Gold Standard: Oscar Watch: ‘Selma’ faces Award Season Truth Squad


Oscar Watch — a look at who and what is up and down this award season — comes to you every Monday. While we're waiting for the Du Pont estate's review of "Foxcatcher," here's what's going on this last week of 2014.

Director/Executive Producer Ava DuVernay discusses a scene with David Oyelowo (as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) on the set of the movie "Selma."
(Paramount Pictures / Pathe / Harpo Films)

Lead actress race

At this coming weekend's Palm Springs International Film Festival, held in the hangar-sized Palm Springs Convention Center, more people will see Julianne Moore accept an award for her work in "Still Alice" than have probably seen the movie itself.

"Still Alice," in which Moore plays a linguistics professor beset by early-onset Alzheimer's, played for a week in a couple of theaters in Los Angeles and New York to qualify for Oscar consideration. It will return on Jan. 16, presumably able to trumpet a nomination for Moore and, thus, secure an audience.

At least Moore's movie has played theatrically. "Cake," the indie drama that has put Jennifer Aniston squarely into the Oscar conversation, won't open until the last day of the year and, again, just for a week to qualify.

So when Oscar nominations are announced Jan. 15, most people will recognize the names but will have no idea why they're being celebrated. That's a problem on a number of levels, emblematic of the dearth of strong stories focused on women, as well as the lack of confidence that, even when those stories manage to get made, moviegoers will be interested in seeing them. It's hard for the public to care about an Oscar race when people have never heard of the nominated performances.

Twitter: @glennwhipp