Y1-00020030_2963900kRichard Linklater’s Boyhood firmed from contender to front-runner in the race for this year’s Best Picture Oscar with its overnight wins at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFC) annual ceremony.

The little-film-that-could is shaping as the little-film-most-likely-to after taking home Film, Director, Supporting Actress (for Patricia Arquette; pictured, above) and Editing trophies from the 39 year-old organisation, credited with an inside track on Hollywood opinion given its proximity to the industry’s heartbeat.

Since its debut at Sundance 2014, Boyhood’s savvy distributor IFC Films has rolled out the 165 minute drama from key city markets to the college towns, where audiences have tapped into the web buzz, and Midwest metropolises, where its homespun, ‘real person’ appeal is prized. It is a strategy that has worked; shot for a relatively meagre US$4million, Boyhood’s domestic takings will soon top US$25million (with a further US$19million from international also in the bank).

IFC has placed precise emphasis on the film’s unique production history (it was shot over 12 years) and overwhelming critical support (99% on Rotten Tomatoes) in all it’s marketing so as to ensure awards season momentum. All the angles have worked to date, with early season festival honours already bestowed from the Berlinale, SXSW, San Sebastian and Seattle and critical kudos of late from The National Board of Review and New York Film Critics Circle.

Despite Boyhood’s current sway with award givers, there are still major contenders putting in bids for Oscar’s favoured film. Among them are Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which placed second to Boyhood at the LAFC function and has a swag of homours already to its name; Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman, so far favoured for Best Actor (Michael Keaton) and Cinematography honours from several outlets; and, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, which could fight out Supporting Actor (between both Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum) and Screenplay categories.

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