Sony Pictures Classics has gone out first. The distributor is kickstarting the awards season by sending out screeners to two of their 2016 releases – Miles Ahead and Maggie’s Plan – to members of the Academy, marking the first films to be sent, according to Deadline. The early bird catches the worm is that old expression and while that doesn’t always hold true when it comes to awards campaigns, the significance of screeners (particularly for groups like SAG) is undeniable. Both films are a part of what could be a larger awards narrative for Sony Classics this year – 2016 will also see campaigns behind festival favorites Elle, Toni Erdmann and The Red Turtle; I Saw the Light, The Meddler and the recently opened The Hollars may also be in play.
For Miles Ahead, the Miles Davis biopic was directed by and stars former Oscar nominee Don Cheadle. The film was picked up by Sony Classics ahead of its 2015 New York Film Festival debut and opened in theaters earlier this year. Maggie’s Plan, another film on the 2015 festival circuit, was written and directed by Rebecca Miller and stars Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore. That film opened in May. Both films received good, if not rave reviews but may actors.
Last year, it was the indie phenom I’ll See You In My Dreams that got screeners out first to members of the Academy. While that film came up short with the Academy, as did 2014 screener-starter Snowpiercer, there is some history to suggest that the first screener can hold some impact. Sony Classics has held success in past years: Junebug was the first screener sent out in 2005 (Amy Adams received a supporting actress Oscar nomination), Frozen River went out first in 2008 (earning Oscar nods for leading actress Melissa Leo as well as screenplay nod) and Animal Kingdom was first out of the gates in 2010 (ending with a surprise Oscar nod for supporting actress Jacki Weaver).
The madness is set to begin. Who’s excited.