Oscars: 'Eye in the Sky' Ensemble to Compete in Supporting Categories (Exclusive)

Eye in the Sky Still Helen Miren - S 2015
Courtesy of Bleecker Street Media

The entire cast of Bleecker Street's critically acclaimed spring release Eye in the Sky — including Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul and Barkhad Abdi — will be promoted for Oscar consideration in the supporting acting categories, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Mirren, a best actress Oscar winner for 2006's The Queen, had been expected to compete in that category again, while supporting categorizations always were a given for Rickman (who died in January), Paul and Abdi (a best supporting actor nominee for 2013's Captain Phillips).

The strategy of pushing all members of a large ensemble in the supporting acting categories was pioneered by Open Road chief Tom Ortenberg back when he was at Lionsgate with 2005's Crash. (That film ultimately landed a single supporting acting nom, for Matt Dillon, en route to its best picture win.) It since has been employed by other top contenders, such as 2006's Little Miss Sunshine (Alan Arkin and Abigail Breslin landed noms and Arkin a win) and Babel (noms went to Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi), as well as 2015's best picture Spotlight (Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams were singled out).

Bleecker Street is committed to mounting an aggressive campaign for Eye in the Sky, a film about drone warfare which currently has a 95 percent favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and for all of its talent. But sources tell THR it has special plans — including tributes and retrospectives in partnership with the likes of BAFTA — for Rickman, a revered character actor who never received an Oscar nomination in his lifetime but who has a real shot at becoming the first posthumous acting nominee since Heath Ledger was recognized in 2009.