'A Most Violent Year': A movie to keep an eye on for the Oscars

The film stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain and has received awards attention lately, including a Golden Globes best supporting actress nomination for Chastain. Can the movie earn a Best Picture nomination for the Oscars?

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
'A Most Violent Year' stars Oscar Isaac (l.) and Jessica Chastain (r.).

Oscar watchers, you have another movie to keep an eye on.

The film, “A Most Violent Year,” directed by J.C. Chandor of “All Is Lost,” stars Oscar Isaac of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” as Abel Morales, who owns a heating-oil company. Another company is taking his trucks and stealing what’s inside. Meanwhile, he’s put everything into the deposit for a storage area on the waterfront and law enforcement is looking into his business. “Interstellar” actress Jessica Chastain plays his wife, Anna, and the film co-stars David Oyelowo of “Selma” as the local district attorney as well as actors Albert Brooks of “Drive,” “American Hustle” actor Alessandro Nivola, and Catalina Sandino Moreno of “The Bridge.”

The title comes from the year in which the film is set, 1981, which, according to the film, was one of the most violent in the history of New York City. “Violent,” which is being released on Dec. 31, just slips in under the Oscar requirements.

And its Oscar star seems to be rising. The National Board of Review recently declared it the best movie of the year and named Isaac as Best Actor along with “Birdman” actor Michael Keaton in a tie. In addition, Chastain was named Best Supporting Actress by the group. Similar to other groups like the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Board of Review’s picks don’t always match up with the eventual Oscar Best Picture – in fact, the last NBR best film of the year to match up with the Oscar Best Picture was in 2008. 

However, when the Golden Globe nominations were announced, Chastain received a nomination for best supporting actress in a motion picture – drama, keeping the film in the conversation.

And the picks by the NBR got people's attention. “Violent” is now appearing on or has risen on some critics’ or writers’ picks for Oscar Best Picture nominees. For example, Los Angeles Times critic Betsy Sharkey thinks it will get a nod. Scott Feinberg of the Hollywood Reporter doesn’t award it one of his 10 slots for Best Picture, but calls it a “major threat” along with long-buzzed-about films such as “Gone Girl,” “Into the Woods,” and “Wild.”

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