Oscar History

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"Big Eyes" Sneak

Tim Burton with Lisa Marie and her comissioned portraitEarly test screenings of Big Eyes have started, Tim Burton's Christmas movie and the word is very positive.

The film stars Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz as an infamous pair of artists... of sorts. Margaret Keane was the artist but it was Walter Keane who got the credit for the well known paintings of sad children with ginormous eyes. In fact, as "Sage" points out in the test screening review at Head Over Feels in a great piece of trivia I was hardly aware of, Burton is a long time fan and commissioned a portrait of Lisa Marie, his former muse, who once cut such an indelible figure in his movies. (I think she's best in Ed Wood and Mars Attacks!)

Anyway, you should read the post if you're interested since there's a lot of Oscar talk (Amy= sure thing / Christoph = probable category fraud) but I like this part:

The story of the Keanes is so bananas that there’s nothing to do but keep it and the ’50s themselves center stage. Burton’s stylistic touches are there and all the more effective for their restraint. We first meet Margaret as she and her daughter are frantically packing up to escape, we assume, her first husband. She piles her things into a big boat of a pastel car and drives it down her calm, colorful, and symmetrical suburban street – very Edward Scissorhands. Vancouver streets are transformed into a swinging, San Francisco drag. Margaret pushes her shopping cart through cartoonishly perfect grocery store aisles. She locks herself away in her studio to paint in secret, like a princess in a tower. The costumes and styling are truly breathtaking...Burton adds touch of the fantastical that I won’t give away; it works and does nothing to downplay the drama of Margaret’s real story.

Hearing words like "a touch of" and "restraint" is really weird in this era of Burton films. Perhaps I should pick back up that BurtonJuice retrospective I started but only just barely before abandoning?

When I was in Boston in May worrying about my then half completed Oscar charts,  I ended up eating brunch with friends in a tiny charming restaurant that had a Keane print ("The Waif") on the wall. I immediately thought "I should tweet this for Big Eyes omen/countdown sake" but forgot.

(The girl in the foreground is one of my best friend's sisters. But I apologize to the oblivious strangers behind her but they were in the shot!)

Do you think Big Eyes is Burton's Oscar ticket or another Big Fish with large holiday hype and some ardent fans but no Oscar love? 

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Reader Comments (34)

I'm excited for him to be artistically re-inspired/inspiring. Hoping for the best but fearing another misstep. The Lisa Marie connection makes the whole things seem a bit odd. I wonder if Helena knows...but a big YES to BurtonJuice retrospective, which seems especially timely with the impending Beetlejuice sequel.

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercatbaskets

I think, yes. As far as category fraud goes: They can't seriously expect to get him a third win, so why not be honest? He'll likely still get the nom anyway (because of the movie, and because Christoph Waltz), so if they really pitch him as support I'll scream.

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Oh my gosh Nat, was just at the restaurant last week and immediately thought of this film (I live in Boston).

I don't pay attention to test screening reactions much (remember last year when everyone said Adams was the weak link of American Hustle early on?). But I have doubts that Adams can win this year, especially in what sounds to be a non-screamy role. I love the subtleties and nuances she brings to most of her characters, but it never screams "Oscar!" like Blanchett, JLaw and Portman have recently.

Still, fingers crossed for her.

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

I really like Waltz and Adams and the story is intriguing, so I hope it lives up to its promise. I am skeptical of Burton, but who isn't, at this point?

Also, Bruno Delbonnel filmed this, so it will look spectacular (I think he filmed Burton's last one though).

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Thanks for sharing, Nathaniel!

Suzanne, the LOOK of the film is beautiful. I was definitely drooling over Atwood's costumes and the cinematography is great.

Jordan, I watched the film the whole time wondering if it was an OSCAR performance. She's REALLY good, but it is definitely a quieter kind of performance. She DOES have some scenes that could be "clips" but I left saying it was probably too restrained for Oscar cause someone will come along and scream for a scene or two and scoop it up.

If anyone has specific questions, I will do my best to answer!

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Amy needs a win before she joins the Close/Kerr/Ritter club -- I have
my doubts on a win

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Hate to say it, but I think Amy will go Oscarless for her career.

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

It seems that Burton is finally poised to break through with the Academy, and it's for one of his only films that doesn't feature Helena Bonham Carter. :/ She deserves another leading role in a successful movie.

The casting of this has me worried. I realize that I'm in the minority, but I find Amy Adams' performances incredibly bland. Not understated, not subtle, but boring, charisma-free, and lacking in any personalizing stamps.

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike M.

I find Amy Adams' performances incredibly bland. Not understated, not subtle, but boring, charisma-free, and lacking in any personalizing stamps.

Thank you.

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I always felt in The Fighter she played tough but it certainly didn't feel natural and I liked her but could see what was going on.

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermark


She also showed a lot of restraint in "Hustle," I think. I can think of a lot of other actresses who would've played up that part in a big way, but she rarely raises her voice.

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJordan


I agree re: Hustle. I thought Amy was AMAZING in it. She really plays quiet moments with an incredible grace.

There is a moment in Big Eyes, when she first realizes exactly WHAT is going down with Walter and her art, that is just heartbreaking. And it's all in her face and you SEE all the thoughts and emotions running through her head. And whenever she talks about what her art MEANS to her and how it was taken away...

But yes, overall, it is not a SHOUTY role. But it IS a real person and it IS a downtrodden wife. It could go either way really!

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Kim: It's nom six. And it's not like Albert Nobbs, The Sundowners or The Birdman of Alcatraz, correct? That should pretty much say it all, right?

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Amy Adams + cartoonish shopping aisles + the 50's = all I want in life.

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

"The story of the Keanes is so bananas that there’s nothing to do but keep it and the ’50s themselves center stage. "


"Burton’s stylistic touches are there and all the more effective for their restraint"


can't wait can't wait can't wait

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

I'm pretty neutral on Adams, I understand why people like her, but Wasikowska and Rooney Mara no clue??!

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

Even if it ends up as an Oscar flop, if Burton can deliver a movie that's half as good as Big Fish, consider my ticket bought already

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

3rtful--you're welcome! I'm glad you appreciate my opinion. Personally, I think that Jessica Chastain is the actress that Amy Adams gets all the credit for being.

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike M.

I don't understand why people always have to compare actresses. Why Chastain vs Amy? Because they are both redheads? That's silly. It's like people always try to compare Winslet and Cate. I like Chastain but her stans are out of control. She is a well regarded actress but her stans always think she's underrated. Personally I prefer Amy over Chastain but I don't need bash Chastain just to prove my point. We should all be thankful there are plenty of talented actresses working today!

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSeeun

I have a NAtalie Wood picture by them.....

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Since we are on the subject of Amy Adams, she's become quite the divisive actress, a la Keira Knightley, hasn't she? But it's for two different reasons. Adams has her devotees for her acting chops - and those who think her overrated. Whereas Knightley has been criticized for her approach to her characterizations (read: A Dangerous Method), but not her overall talent. Personally, I prefer the risks Knightley chooses and find her fascinating as a performer.

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

@Seeun - Thank you. Hate when this site becomes the battle of the actresses (and it's never Nat's fault, always commenters).

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

Jordan -- it's a good restaurant, right? loved my meal at least.

Seeun -- it is a peculiar thing, the comparisons. People definitely do not do it as much with actors.

June 19, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

"Whereas Knightley has been criticized for her approach to her characterizations (read: A Dangerous Method), but not her overall talent"

Huh? I believe a lot of people saw a hypnotically bad rather than simply misguided actress in Dangerous Method.

Knightley technically made some bold decisions, sure, but boldness + lack of aptitude don't = greatness. Otherwise eg. Chloe Sevigny would deserve several awards purely for blowing Vincent Gallo on-(or for that matter off-) screen.

Also Keira Knightley has nothing to do with Amy Adams OR the fact that Amy Adams is fabulous.

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

I think Keira was great in A Dangerous Method. People seem to have a problem with her in the first minutes of the film, but it's exactly how a person with her characters' condition would behave, so I've never understood why.

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobMiles

Can't wait to see this movie.

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJames T


Because there's so much over praise with a lot of actresses on this site. When there is a topic about an actress the comment section is filled with over praise. There's bound to be a few people who is not particularly fond of that actress. That is the problem . If everyone can stick to the topic battle of the actresses would not occur.

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

Sorry Seeun, Adams and Mara stans take the cake.

Someone found Amy bland, let's rant about comparing actresses.......smh.

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

I do have hope for Big Eyes. Tim Burton is more a miss than hit lately, but he has made some great movies in the past, so I pray Big Eyes takes the path to the likes of Ed Wood.
Amy's role does not need to be showy at all to win. Sarandon's role wasn't too in Dead Man Walking.
I think Harvey's campaign for Amy will be loud enough to be heared by the Academy.

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

My problem with Knightley extended well past that film's first five minutes. In fact, the point where I completely gave up trying with that performance was relatively late in the film where she is reading a letter while simultaneously mimicking electro-shock and ab crunches on a bench in the park. No psychological condition could explain that 'artistic' choice. Simple bad acting.

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

Sad to see Knightley not break into the 07 and 08 weak actress races for her 2 best turns.

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

I've had a feeling Weinstein would push Waltz as a supporting actor for a while now. I'll be laughing so hard if he wins a third Oscar. I remember reading an article after his win for Inglourious Basterds that ranked all of that year's nominees chances of being nominated again, and I believe he was ranked the lowest of the Supporting Actor nominees. So to see the phrase "three-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz" appear on a trailer five years later would just be too funny.

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

I love the subtleties and nuances she brings to most of her characters, but it never screams "Oscar!" like Blanchett, JLaw and Portman have recently.

But don't forget Tilda Swinton's quiet performance in MICHAEL CLAYTON won her an Oscar. Understated rarely wins but there's a difference between "rarely" and "never." And Adams will be considered more overdue than Swinton since this will be her sixth nod.

Or what about Jodie Foster in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS? That she was very quiet and low-key when up against the ultra-flamboyant shenanigans of Anthony Hopkins hurt her Oscar chances not at all. In fact that might be the best analogue to BIG EYES: Waltz, like Hopkins, having the showboating, grandstanding "charismatic monster" part, and Adams', like Foster, having the more subdued role. But the subdued character is nevertheless the true protagonist of the film.

Or what about Morgan Freeman in MILLION DOLLAR BABY? He'd been nominated so many times and was considered so overdue that, in the end, the low-key quality of his performance ceased to matter and ceased to be a debit.

So to see the phrase "three-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz" appear on a trailer five years later would just be too funny.

I don't think he'll ever win again, but I do think he might end up - against all odds - if he continues to play his cards right - becoming the male Judi Dench. Some character actor the Academy never heard of or paid the slightest attention to when they were young, but despite a late start turning into a perennial Academy favorite who gets nominated over and over again.

June 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterND

I'm glad to hear that this film (which I, as a HUGE Burton fan, want to be great) is seemingly a good film. Also, unrelated, but which restaurant is that in Boston? I'm a huge fan of Keane's art and live in Boston.

June 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJon

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