'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.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.