Is 'Straight Outta Compton' an Oscar contender?

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Judging by the huge audience and largely positive response at the official Academy screening for Straight Outta Compton on Saturday night, the movie, which details the rise of N.W.A., might just be this year’s first big contender for an Oscar.

Although most movies play at the Academy’s 1012-seat Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills, many of them play to small crowds or even empty theaters before the fall. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, an Academy insider said the crowd at the theater for Straight Outta Compton was surprising.

“It was one of the bigger screenings I’ve seen in a long time,” one Academy member told THR, “maybe 80 to 85 percent full.” The member noted that a screening the week before drew a crowd of about 200 people but that the one on Saturday had “well over 700.”

While it should be noted that Academy members can bring up to three friends to a screening and that therefore the numbers do not reflect the numbers of Academy members in attendance, that’s still a very impressive showing for Straight Outta Compton and bodes well for its Academy chances.

And the early reviews and reactions are favorable as well, though it’s still early in the year.

One Academy member told THR the movie “succeeds as a studio picture while transcending what that usually is. It’s a very visceral, poetic, terrific film. It is worthy of some real consideration, particularly I think for acting, directing and even best picture — but, but, it’s very early in the season, and there are a zillion other pictures coming out.”

So, will Straight Outta Compton make a splash at next year’s Oscars? It looks like we’ll just have to wait and see, but if Saturday night was anything to go by, the chances are high.