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Entries in Oscars (11) (332)

Sunday
Apr102011

April Foolish Predictions Complete: Actress & Picture

So my "April Foolish" Oscar Predictions are now complete. I rejiggered two tech predictions once I finally decided on my ten Best Pictures but honestly, any combo of the top 20 listed seems just as plausible as any other so long as the obvious get, War Horse, is there. (It's practically as obvious as The King's Speech was a year out.) We won't know until January how well I did but it's exciting this far out when anything seems possible yes?

BEST PICTURE
I didn't expect to get so fully behind Super 8 but sometimes your own predictions surprise you once you have to work every category out. My wishful thinking pick is David Cronenberg's psychoanalytic period drama A Dangerous Method which is a big old question mark for a number of reasons. But my hunch is that Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender and Keira Knightley will all bring it which will heat up the material which is already sexual conceptually speaking since it's about Freud and Jung. But Cronenberg has never been to the Academy's liking so I'm probably wrong. My wildcard guess -- as in something that's not an obvious contender -- is Oren Moverman's Rampart, a police corruption drama. This film will have the same challenge as My Week With Marilyn in that it will only win real Oscar traction if it feels much larger or more mythic than a telefilm on the same material since both cover topics that have been dramatized on television many times: cop dramas and Marilyn Monroe respectively. My guess for Smallest Nomination Tally But still Best Pic competitor is We Bought a Zoo (just a hunch). My guess for Film With Most Noms That Doesn't Get Nominated For Best Picture (whew) which was Alice in Wonderland last year and Nine the year before (i think?)  is The Adventures of TinTin: The Secret of the Unicorn but if I'm wrong on that, I feel certain it'll be Hugo Cabret.

QUESTIONS FOR YOU:
Which film am I greatly overestimating?
Which movie am I greatly underestimating?
Where am I Goldilocks "just right"?
I'll admit I had NO idea what to make of Moneyball. You?

BEST ACTRESS
Elizabeth Olsen and Felicity Jones were the twin Sundance bids for this category in January and we know how last year and the year before (Bening & Lawrence, Mulligan & Sidibe) turned out: all were nominated. But in a fit of bravery, I'm not predicting either of them.

I'm going with a mostly Previous Nominees lineup. How do you deny Michelle Williams, Glenn Close or Keira Knightley for example this far ahead with juicy roles? As for never-nominated people, I'm totally curious to see what happens with Charlotte Rampling's film The Eye of the Storm.

ACTRESSY QUESTIONS FOR YOU:
Anyone think they'll pass on Meryl Streep this year? (I perversely wanted to predict it.)
Which actress am I underestimating?
Could you see Williams winning for Marilyn?

Note to New Readers
The navigation bar up-top has pull down menus for each Oscar charts or you can click on the Prediction Index and investigate from there. Join in the conversation!

Thursday
Apr072011

Supporting Actress Predix & Jessica Chastain

I don't have the patience or the time to research this but what do you suppose was the tipping point moment when Hollywood decided that they MUST have Jessica Chastain in every single movie in production? She's like Michael Fassbender's twin sister in terms of output. This happens fairly regularly with actors that Hollywood suspects you'll go crazy for. The most recent examples: Mia Wasikowska and Chloe Moretz. Sometimes the audience complies fawning all over the actor, other times they get all excited about the person as a celebrity but not as an actor (Colin Farrell's weird initial trajectory some years back), and other times they barely notice and don't care and Hollywood starts scrambling for another next big thing. [Editors note: Actually they're always scrambling for that even if you do embrace the one before.]

What will happen in 2011 with Jessica Ubiquity Chastain? Hollywood has gifted her with a potentially huge year. Will her work return that investment? Here's what her year is like...

Jessica Chastain in THE TREE OF LIFE

  • JAN - She co-starred with Michael Shannon in Sundance hit "TAKE SHELTER"
  • FEB - She started filming "THE WETTEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD" with an all star ensemble that includes Shia Labeouf, Tom Hardy, Mia Wasikowska and Gary Oldman.
  • MAR - She turned the big 3-0.
  • MAY - She stars as Brad Pitt's wife in Terrence Malick's long awaited drama "THE TREE OF LIFE"
  • JUL - She co-stars with Chloe Moretz and Sam Worthington in the thriller "THE FIELDS"
  • AUG - She plays the young version of Helen Mirren in 'THE DEBT" and is part of the Southern ensemble in "THE HELP" with Emma Stone.
  • NOV - She co-stars with acclaimed thesps Ralph Fiennes & Vanessa Redgrave in the Shakespearean adaptation "CORIOLANUS"
  • TBA -- She's supposedly completed work on Terrence Malick's Tree of Life follow up picture which stars Rachel McAdams. She's also Salome in "WILDE SALOME" which is Al Pacino's documentary about Oscar Wilde's play. It might come out this year.  If you've ever seen his Looking for Richard, we imagine it'll be like that - totally worth seeing if you're into the theater, the playwright in question and don't mind listening to actors indulgently talk about their craft (I don't just not mind this. I love this) but otherwise you probably won't care.

My god. Does she ever sleep?

I realize that Terrence Malick's films have never resulted in an acting Oscar nomination but there's a first time for everything and one has to assume she'll be in the 2011 conversation in some way even if it's just "oh my god there she is again!" I've included her in the predicted five because honestly, this is the hardest time I've ever had predicting Best Supporting Actress a Year in Advance. None of the roles/film/star matchups are screaming ME!

I am totally anxious to hear your thoughts on this entirely foggy category. This category requires psychic powers and perhaps mine are on the fritz.

 

Tuesday
Apr052011

Deja Vu: Oscar On Franchise Tides Pt. 2

Though I was about to pronounce 2011 unusually sequel-infested, it might not be much different than any other year. Perhaps it's just the Animated Feature category that has made it feel that way with so many high profile continuations. The difference might just be in how much it seems to be confusing the Oscar Prediction Process. Generally speaking in The Academy's 83 year history, they haven't been much for remakes and sequels and long running series. But times they are a-changing and have been since oh... Star Wars? You can't really stay totally immune to the repetitive charms of franchises if 65% of the movies released are series of some sort, as if the cinema were just one giant television and we all eagerly awaited the next episode of Fill in the Blank: The Further Adventures of That Pt.3.

 

Franchises have been part of Hollywood forever. From left to right: The Thin Man (7 films), James Bond (22+ films), Tarzan (80+ films), The Pink Panther (11 films), Star Wars (6 films), Batman (6+ features), Aliens (4+ features), The Godfather (3 films). But they haven't always been Oscar magnets

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas shook Hollywood up in the 70s, not just by creating "summer movie season" as we know it but also by opening the floodgates to repetitive Oscar charms. Previous long running franchises like Tarzan or James Bond hadn't managed much in the way of Oscar attention, perhaps viewed more as popcorn entertainments than quality filmmaking. The six-film Star Wars saga amassed 22 nominations and 10 statues, the four-film Indiana Jones adventures amassed 13 nominations and 7 statues. The most obvious ancestor and ultimate champion of this new form of long-form Oscar pull was The Lord of the Rings; over just three films it managed 30 nominations and 17 statues which was even more than The Godfather trilogy (29 nominations and 9 statues)

Two of the world's most popular franchises return this year. What will Oscar do with the Boy Wizard and Captain Jack this time around?

Jack Sparrow (3 films | 11 nominations | 1 win)

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
    5 nominations (Actor, Makeup, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects) 
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)
    4 nominations (Art Direction, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects*)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)
    2 nominations (Makeup, Visual Effects)

The Academy has been quite generous with this series though they snubbed its quite awesome first film costumes by the strangely never nominated Penny Rose. But will they tire of it now that it seems like the series will never leave us? Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides can probably count on a Visual Effects nod since the series has never faltered there but maybe it'll pick up Sound Editing and Makeup too if they're not shouting "Enough already!!!" in unison.

Harry Potter (7 films | 9 nominations | 0 wins)

  • Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone (2001)
    3 nominations (Art Direction, Original Score, Costume Design)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
    N/A
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
    2 nominations (Original Score, Visual Effects)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
    1 nomination (Art Direction)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix(2007)
    N/A
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009)
    1 nomination (Cinematography)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 (2010)
    2 nominations (Art Direction, Visual Effects)

As you can see from the list, there's not much statistical basis to support the wishful thinking (in some quarters) that AMPAS is itching to reward the entire series this year as it finally closes in its eleventh year of hogging the world's money with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2.  The series best bet for a first (!) statue is obviously an Art Direction career-win for Stuart Craig who has done marvelous work on the series. Here's how much they love his work on the series: they even nominated him last year the year in which he arguably did the least. The most perplexing nomination in the series history in terms of 'why then and what does it mean?' would have to be the cinematography nomination for Half Blood Prince. A cinematography get is a big deal and that one does make you wonder how many sixth place finishes, just outside of nomination range, Potter has managed over the years. If the answer is MANY then we might see them rewarding the franchise with a series best showing.

We can probably save the discussion of the third Transformers films and the tech situation with all those superhero films for a later time though let it suffice to say for now that the credits for Thor and particularly Captain America: The First Avenger are stacked with former Oscar players in categories like Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup and Film Editing. Who knew? Marvel ain't playin' around.

VISUAL CATEGORY First Oscar Predictions of Year new
AURAL CATEGORY First Oscar Predictions of Year new
Previously: Animated Feature | Actor | Supporting Actor | Screenplay

Monday
Apr042011

Will Glenn Close Become a Double Nominee at the Oscars?

Glenn Close has been fighting to get Albert Nobbs, the 19th century drama about a cross-dressing woman in Ireland, made into a film for some time. She starred in the play in the summer of 1982, the same summer that her debut film performance in The World According to Garp arrived in theaters. She was famously Oscar-nominated for that debut.

Not only is she playing the role again 29 years later for the screen but she's co-written the adaptation*. It's her first screenplay credit and it could theoretically win her another "first timer" Oscar nomination. Once I imagined this scenario and narrative (AMPAS does respect a dream project) I couldn't let it go. Sometimes Oscar narratives get stuck in my head for weeks, impervious to all logic**.

A play poster; Mia Wasikowska and Glenn Close in the film.

Oscar obsessing takes up an alarmingly large percentage of my cerebrum and this blog and the charts (SCREENPLAY Predictions are ready for you***) are the results. But sometimes it gets a little out of hand. Neurologists were alarmed to discover that that same gold shiny fixation has now drifted to my brain stem. Studies show that my Oscar obsession is now a completely involuntary function... like breathing. They've asked me to donate my gray-gold matter to science when I'm dead.

*If she accomplishes this it won't be the first time. At least four other actors have written roles that they were Oscar nominated for both writing and performing. Can you name them?

** Logic like this troubling fact: none of Rodrigo García's well meaning but muted films have attracted much awards recognition. My personal theory is that someone needs to jolt him with electric shock on ocassion. I really want to love his films and I suspect he's a kindred spirit given his devotion to actresses but there's something too sleepy about the movies. And I don't mean boring. Does anyone feel me here? I just think they need some filmmaking crackle that's not entirely performance-driven.

*** I felt weird about not excluding Carnage in the predictions but the more I think about it the more I'm unsure of how well it will transfer to the screen.

Garp, The Big Chill, The Natural, Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons

P.S. (God shut up already, Nathaniel.) How would you rank Glenn's Oscar nominations? I still don't get what that 1984 bid was about at all -- other than involuntary nominating reflex, blame the AMPAS brain stem-- but fuckyeah on her 1980s run all told, right? She was nearly as Oscar ubiquitous as Streep. if they're both nominated this year for Albert Nobbs and The Iron Lady it'll be their third head-to-head showdown.

Monday
Apr042011

Predix: Supporting Actor and The Matter of Young Leads

Jim Broadbent as Dennis ThatcherWhen it comes to blindfolded Oscar predictions, almost nothing beats the supporting categories. I have this vague fantasy of time travel and returning to propose all 10 supporting acting nominees correctly one April to reams of laughter from the internet. They can be so hard to see coming for so many reasons including: adaptations sometimes lean on different characters than the novels or plays that birthed them, ensembles are tricky because you don't know who will win "best in show" reviews, one lead films are tricky because the huge role at the center (The Iron Lady, J. Edgar) sometimes end up sucking up all the oxygen and other times have coattails. Then there's the small matter of Oscar being more diverse aesthetically when it comes to supporting work. Here is where comedy, horror, sci-fi, fantasy  and even comic book movies (Dick Tracy, The Dark Knight) can show up even though they rarely if ever get play in lead categories.

Kenneth Branagh? Christoph Waltz? Philip Seymour Hoffman x 2? Viggo Mortensen x 2? Armie Hammer or Josh Lucas? Ben Kingsley? Christopher Plummer? Jim Broadbent -- his Iron Lady performance already has tongues (and fingers) wagging -- Richard E Grant or Anthony Head? Nick Nolte? Brad Pitt? You can drive yourself crazy thinking about all the possibilities. Maybe you have?

The first predictions for 2011

NEW TOPIC: This is as good a year as any, I assume, to prove my frequent statements about Oscar's double standards with gender. There are at least three very high profile films with young male leads this year: HUGO CABRET (Asa Butterfield is 14 years old), WAR HORSE (Jeremy Irvine is ??? years old), and SUPER 8 (Joel Courtney is ??? years old).

Asa Butterfield, Jeremy Irvine and Joel Courtney

If you've ever doubted my assertion about this double standard -- some people have objected to the statements -- watch how these performances are treated this year while keeping in mind how Hailee Steinfeld's work was greeted in True Grit as if the heavens or the red sea had parted. The media, critics and Oscar voters are quick to shove aside experience and accomplishment in women when a "fresh player" enters but not so with male actors. My prediction: at least one of these three does work on par or better than Hailee's and doesn't get anything like her traction. Watch and see.

Obviously there are exceptions, as there are to every rule: There was no denying Haley Joel Osment's gift in The Sixth Sense (1999) although he did get demoted to Supporting and lost to somebody who already had an Oscar, and Justin Henry won a nomination at 8 (!) for Kramer Vs. Kramer. In both cases the films were absolute sensations at the box office. Dramas no longer explode with audiences like Kramer vs. Kramer did but in today's dollars its box office haul was truly insane. We're talking a domestic haul closer to the latest Harry Potter than a True Grit or King's Speech. In other words, even Oscar doesn't ignore the zeitgeist.