It was time to check back in with our popular charts, clean off the dust and rearrange the furniture. But, that said, the Oscar year has been off to a slow start since the blockbusters have had little in the way of Oscar contending elements (beyond visual effects) and the best films so far have been tiny (Frances Ha, Before Midnight, Mud) and Oscar is a size queen.
PICTURE & DIRECTOR
Before you say anything, no, I do not think Fruitvale Station will win Best Picture. I've placed it at #1 on the charts this week merely because it's the only film I'm certain will be nominated at this point. When you start getting grabby media headlines like "Can a movie heal the nation?" people are already making your case for you. And, as rankings go, one should always remember that the charts are about nominations (until the actual nominations take place 178 days from now) rather than wins. I'm not one of those pundits that cares about who will win before we even have a nominee list; the nomination competition is the best part! I'd love to believe that Before Midnight had also already sealed up a nomination but I've never been convinced that AMPAS is really watching that intimate talky ephemeral once-a-decade brilliance. If they were they're crazy for not nominating the second film for Best Picture & Best Actress in 2004 (Million Dollar Baby's got nothing on Before Sunset in either category).
In other chart-shifting I've boosted Saving Mr Banks way way up (I know people were down on the trailer but Oscar predictions are about Academy taste rather than internet taste) and lost a bit of faith in Foxcatcher, though only really because its release plan is either nonexistent or very shy. [more]
ACTRESS & SUPPORTING ACTRESS
The big news in these categories is about to be Blue Jasmine since it opens on Friday and Cate Blanchett is reportedly amazing and BIG in it... when Cate goes big she gets unfortunate Oscar nominations (The Golden Age of OverActing) or divisive wins (Aviator) the poing being that Oscar notices. I had to miss the screening this week because I'd already committed to a little indie called Short Term 12 which was playing at the same time. I was super sad about this as you can imagine since it's a new Woody Allen with my lovely Sally Hawkins in it...
...but then I actually sat through Short Term 12 which was so great I regretted nothing (more on that soon). So I've added Brie Larson, the star of the movie, to the chart as well albeit in a very low position since no matter how terrific she is in each role or movie she makes, she doesn't appear in 'Oscar films' (yet) and even Emmy ignores her -- don't you think she deserved a nomination for United States of Tara?
ACTOR & SUPPORTING ACTOR
In supporting actor I still feel rather clueless since we haven't seen any viable contenders yet -- unless they push Matthew McConaughey for Mud and that'd still be a stretch -- but the possibilities (unseen) seem just north of endless. In the lead category we have chart climbs for both Michael B Jordan (who'd be the 10th youngest guy ever nominated for Best Actor if it happens) and that Wolf of Wall Street Leonardo DiCaprio who hasn't been nominated in ten years (SHUSH, I'M BLOCKING OUT 'BLOOD DIAMOND' ON PURPOSE) so he'll be doing a happy dance if it comes to pass...
ORIGINAL & ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Gains for The Wolf of Wall Street, Blue Jasmine, Saving Mr Banks...
Sheesh what is this category going to do this year? There's just nothing worth nominating yet. Monsters University will be there by default but it's so mediocre. It's time to revisit the number of nominees if we're getting default players. And considering how many contenders have already been screened in 2013 (The Croods, Turbo, Despicable Me 2, Epic, Escape From Planet Earth) that is a bad sign. Especially after the minor excitement the category brought us last year with four very good (if perhaps ungreat) nominees and little clear idea of who might take home the gold.
VISUAL CATEGORIES & AURAL CATEGORIES
Some movement in costuming -- go Patricia Norris. She's in her 80s and still waiting for that Oscar win. She has two films this year: 12 Years a Slave and The Immigrant and a little in visual fx to reflect box office. Pacific Rim's poor showing won't help it here. Amusingly, Costume Design and Visual FX are like exact opposites when it comes to caring about whether or not the movies they recognize are hits or not.)
As for FOREIGN FILM... I'm working on that impossibly wide category this week so we'll discuss the submission charts soon.