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Entries in Best Picture (169)

Friday
Dec112015

Oscar Prediction Updates - Carol's Up. But What's Down?

Will Oscar voters love how obsessed with Oscar statues the SAG nominated TRUMBO is? It's been an enormously busy week with precursor decisions confusing and clarifying in equal measure. Even if you don't put much stock in the Critic's Choice Awards (also known as the BFCA, an organization that includes your host) it'll be interesting to see what they come up with since ballots were due today and so many questions remain. Though the organization prides itself on Oscar predictive power (a very weird thing to pride yourself on unless you're a pundit rather than a critic) the confusing nature of the race won't make things easy on any pundit.

While I've been accused of overthinking various races often (who, me?) such is the curse of punditry and Oscar obsessiveness. Here's where I think we stand now...

PICTURE & DIRECTOR If this race we're taking place in 2008 with the old school five-wide race it would obviously be Spotlight, The Martian, Carol, The Revenant, and Room at this point with one of the directors jettisoned for Mad Max's overachievement by George Miller. Beyond that it's so complicated both because we don't know how many nominees we'll get and because seven other pictures still seem plausible as a Best Picture nominee for one reason or another though they had shakier reactions in these first two precursor weeks. For instance: Creed hasn't been doing all that well but I still think it's a big Oscar possibility. Am I crazy or just concussed? And speaking of...

The SAG miss for Sir Ian McKellen could spell trouble for his Oscar dream

ACTOR While I don't imagine we'll see a repeat of Will Smith's Globe nominated Concussion performance on the Oscar shortlist it's one of about ten performances that still seem to be in the race. You'll have to cleave that in half in January. DiCaprio, Redmayne, Fassbender, and Cranston all have the key nominations (Globe & SAG) but each year at least one or two people across the four categories with that combo miss and you need #1 votes given the Academy's nomination tallying system. So which performances or beloved actors have the most passion behind them? This is why I still think Michael B Jordan or even Sir Ian could surprise despite the lack of SAG or Globe love; it's always important to remember that those voting bodies are quite dissimilar to Oscar's acting branch.

SUPPORTING ACTOR Precursors have coalesced around Michael Shannon, Idris Elba, and Mark Rylance but because the former two weren't what people widely expected, CHAOS REIGNS. Sly Stallone still feels like a potential winner IF he's nominated. And will Oscar really deprive anyone from Spotlight of an acting nomination? That would be so weird for such an actor's friendly Best Picture frontrunner.

but who will be on CHARLOTTE's ballot? ACTRESS & SUPPORTING ACTRESS We'll have to list these two together because of the ongoing controversy surrounding Rooney Mara (one half of Carol's brilliant romantic coupling) and Alicia Vikander (who has two films splitting supporting honors Ex Machina and The Danish Girl, even though she's the leading lady of both). The discussions around these two have sucked so much oxygen out of the room for other women (in both the leading and supporting races) that I imagine they're both still getting nominated for Supporting DAMNIT since voters likely haven't thought through their other options . The solution: quality longshots should be working their asses off for the next two weeks to remind people of their existence (We're talking to you: Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Banks, Julie Walters, and Cynthia Nixon)  since Academy voters don't get their ballots until the end of the year. Over in lead actress only four women feel secure (yes, that includes Charlotte Rampling. Come at me!) which means it's a true free for all for the fifth-slot. This week I chose Lily Tomlin as the lucky lady but it could be anyone from the second tier of the chart (or Mara or Vikander).

The other category charts will be updated this weekend -- SAG & Globe choices tell us virtually nothing about Oscar tastes when it comes to the other categories so we can think awhile longer on it.

Investigate the new charts and report back. What does your crystal ball say?

Wednesday
Dec022015

Can "Creed" Go 12 Rounds With Oscar?

In the past 48 hours I've screened The Revenant, Joy, and Creed. Since the first two are still under embargo we're not allowed to speak of them yet. I will say these non spoilers that The Revenant continues the tradition of Inaritu's love of miserable arguably suicidal men, and Joy continues in the tradition of David O. Russell sandbox like playgrounds for actors eager to play with their new parts. But...embargo!

As movie buffs well know, the original Rocky was a smash hit when it premiered in December 1976, becoming the biggest box office hit of that year, making a star of Sly Stallone, charting a #1 single ("Gonna Fly Now"), and earning an incredible 10 Oscar nominations. It eventually won Picture, Director, and Editing on the big night. And against unreal competition too: Network, Taxi Driver, Bound for Glory, and All The President's Men. The Rocky series spawned a few popular sequels but eventually exhausted its welcome as film franchises do. Creed, smartly plays like both a straight sequel (VII) and a spinoff or rebirth with Rocky Balboa passing the franchise torch to Apollo Creed's son Adonis (Michael B Jordan).

So let's talk Creed and Oscar and the ways it could well factor into the Oscar race after the jump...

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Tuesday
Dec012015

NBR takes Fury Road... but to where?

The National Board of Review used to be the unofficial kick off to awards season / best of year honors but though it's still early, the race for "first" got so ridiculous that we've crept into November of late. They lost that distinction but they're still doing their thing super early in December. The first day of it. Welcome to month twelve!

THEY LOOKED AT ME. THEY LOOKED AT ME.

This year they named George Miller's feminist action epic Mad Max Fury Road as the year's best and we salute them since we love it so and it's peak spectacle filmmaking. But Furiosa will be pissed to hear that they mostly ignored the other big female driven films this year.

Let's investigate after the jump...

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Wednesday
Nov252015

Campaign Cocktails: Youth & Spotlight

oh it's just me and Jane. just an average Thursday night.More adventures from Oscar's holiday festive campaign trail. This time the Oscar frontrunner (Spotlight) and an Oscar possibility too many people are sleeping on (Youth)...

Should Jane Fonda ever tell you you have good tastes in movies, it'll get you drunker than whatever cocktail is in your hand. My personal guarantee to you! If, hypothetically speaking, you're a self-proclaimed actressexual cinephile Oscar pundit (ahem) and two of your favorite movies of all time happen to be They Shoot Horses Don't They (1969) and  Klute (1971), and Jane Fonda says this aloud to you, you might feel a little like you've peaked.  Is this real life...?

The 77 year-old American icon, along with her Youth co-stars Paul Dano and Michael Caine were the glitziest guests of Fox Searchlight's holiday party in New York City last week. (If the star's of the company's buzziest contender Brooklyn were at the sprawling extravaganty catered party at the Park Hyatt  -- truffle shavings? why not! --  I unfortunately didn't spot them).

True legends aren't often as accessible as Jane Fonda was at this particular party, gladly taking selfies with multiple fans and chatting about her movies and Youth, too. Many people have referred to Fonda's work in Youth as a "cameo" including probably myself at one point or another and while that might be factually true it's not spiritually true. You'll hear everything from 4 minutes to 9 minutes about her screentime depending on who you're talking to but screentime is rarely an accurate barometer of impact. Youth spends so much time obsessing on her character, the Fonda-like "Brenda Morel" (not coincidentally also a multiple Oscar winning bonafide legend who has recently made a new home in television) that when she arrives it's with the power of a rumbling fault line, tectonically shifting the movie's entire landscape. Youth as a film experience is basically pre-Fonda and post-Fonda in the telling. I fully expect her to be nominated and have for months now.

Paul Dano is the only actor in Youth that is not working some strange voodoo of their own persona fused with character work. He's playing a full fledged movie star best known for a franchise he despises... and though I expected Keitel to be winning the traction as Supporting Actor, it appears that some people are in Dano's corner. He was in good spirits at the party, and possibly filled with spirits from the open bar (sorry, that was me - I'm projecting)  Dano keeps being paired with estimable superstars or genuine acting powerhouses: Day-Lewis, Jackman, De Niro, Caine, Fonda (though he doesn't share scenes with the latter). I asked him if this trend was disconcerting or intimidating for him on set? 'Are you kidding me?' he answered, excited. 'I love it. I hope it'll make me better.' I won't spoil one of Youth's most disturbing surprises which involves Dano's actor character preparing for a new role but I asked him about that soon to be infamous scene. As it turns out he filmed it on his 30th birthday which is now, he admits,  'the weirdest birthday of my life.' 

Thomas McCarthy and Michael Keaton... (photo from the internet, not this particular event)

Less celebrity hobnobbing occurred at the last party I attended in Los Angeles which happened to be for  Spotlight (you know how sometimes you're shy and sometimes you're extroverted? Same) but the "light supper" event was well-attended and the town's love for the movie was palpable. Writer-director Thomas McCarthy was surrounded by well wishers, a nice mix of Academy members (former 80s Best Actress nominee spotted!) and journos the whole night. I did say a brief hello to Michael Keaton who I had met a couple of times during his Birdman run last season. "Welcome to Round Two!" I said stupidly. Was he ready for all this again, so soon? He assured me it felt much different this time -- the pressure was off since it wasn't so focused on him. It's too soon to say if the  "all supporting" Oscar campaign for Spotlight will pay off with the acting branch, but I personally think it was the right call. It's the very definition of an Ensemble Picture. Can anyone beat that team for SAG's upcoming top prize? 

 

Wednesday
Nov112015

Oscar Scuttlebutt: Hateful Eight, Best Actress, and More

Nathaniel, popping in from a busy AFI schedule to gossip with you!  

One of the best things about this annual trip to Los Angeles, besides meeting West Coast fans and spending time with rarely seen LA friends, is hearing the gossip around the Oscar campaigns and individual opinions on the movie. As I suspected Youth resonates with a lot of people in the industry. I've always thought the Oscar conversations on the internet are sleeping on this one because it's a) not in theaters yet and b) skews older than active rooting interests of typical online communities. Also extremely happy to report that people in town seem more confident in Charlotte Rampling's prospects for a 45 Years nomination than I have previously been. She's getting a tribute at the AFI and Kirsten Dunst is even hosting a party in her honor this weekend.

Now, one must always take every anecdote and opinion with a whole block of salt since one man's treasure is another's junk, some assumptions will always be proven wrong, and depending on who is talking there may be an agenda floating around, visible or well hidden. Here are some tidbits you may be interested in though keep in mind that it's all just hearsay after the jump...

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Tuesday
Oct132015

8 Best Things About "Steve Jobs" (First Impressions)

True confession: When I read Jason's breathless rave for Steve Jobs from my sick bed last week I was like "calm down, man,  it can't be that good" Cut to one week later me sitting in the theater, as the end credits rolled: "I gotta read that rave again and nod my head vigorously this time!" While I suspect I don't love it quite as much as Jason, it is inarguably one of 2015's must-see picture and we shan't be annoyed at all when it racks up Oscar nominations in January.

The film goes wide on Friday and trust that you'll want to be there. Here are my 8 favorite things about it at first glance... 

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Tuesday
Oct062015

NYFF: Sing the Electric "Steve Jobs"

Reporting from the ongoing New York Film Festival here is Jason on Oscar hopeful "Steve Jobs".

It should surprise no one that a movie directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin is all about rhythm. The rhythm is established at the start (and Steve Jobs runs zero to sixty so you'd best get a grip quick) and pulses outwards like the blink of a cursor, or a techno beat. You could probably set your watch to it... if you were a maniacal math genius who could work out the exact algorithm they're working off of. 

The new film is structured around three events in Jobs professional life: his first presentation of his Macintosh computer in 1984; the "perfect black cube" of the NeXT machine in 1988 after he was fired from Apple; and his triumphant return to the company a decade later with the crayola-tinted iMac every girl in my college dorm owned. Within each chapter, there are a series of sonnets of sorts, devoted to the folks in his life - his daughter, his work-wife, his boss, so on. The pieces shift once the rhythm is established, but structurally speaking the film is rigorous, in a (and I do not use these words lightly) soul-pleasing kind of way. Once you find your way in to Steve Jobs, there's this satisfaction in expectations, and the massaging thereof. [More...]

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