Whiplash has been widely acclaimed as one of 2014’s best films (we certainly thought so). Critics and fans alike agree the American drama is a shoe-in for a handful of Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actor for J.K. Simmons and a Best Picture nod at the very least. However, a hiccup in the Academy of Arts and Sciences’ voting process may encumber writer/director Damien Chazelle’s shot at a writing trophy.
A tricky technicality has led to the film being listed under the Best Adapted Screenplay category, despite being a wholly original piece of writing from the 29-year-old filmmaker. The line of thinking is that the misplacement may rob Whiplash of a nomination because the various Academy voters simply won’t know where to look for it on their ballots.
The mix-up occurred because as Chazelle and the film’s producers were looking for financing for the movie, they filmed an 18-minute scene from the script to entice potential investors. The move was effective, but perhaps too much so: the clip ended up winning the Short Film Jury Prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. This led the Academy to determine that the full-length Whiplash was an adaptation, thus the omission from the Original Screenplay category.
Complicating the issue is that the Academy’s decision-making process is incongruous. Deadline points out that producers of 2008’s Frozen River also used the short film strategy in order to secure financing, and that film still received an Original Screenplay nod. How this all shakes out for Whiplash is still up in the air, but we’ll find out when the final Academy Award nominations are revealed on January 15th.
Here’s the trailer for Whiplash: