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Entries in Oscars (11) (328)

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.

Sunday
Apr032011

Oscar Predix: Best Actor and Leonardo DiCaprio

It's that foolish time of year - April Foolish to be precise. I try and suss out what's going to happen nearly a whole year from now without having seen any of the films. I am actually better than most at the year-in-advance thing... it's only later when my skills and prediction ratios put me a bit further back in the Best Prognosticators pack. Must be letting my familiarity with the films cloud the actual buzz! (They do always say that people who don't follow the race closely win Oscar pools just by casually parroting the buzz.)


The big year in advance question that people are already talking about of course is whether Leonardo DiCaprio can finally win for J. Edgar (if the film is released this year as I firmly expect it will be.)

THE PREDICTION CHART

Whether or not Leo is truly overdue is another matter. I was a very early disciple (1993, baby) but I have been losing interest over the years. I may be the only one who thinks that he's actually kind of bad in Inception. That performance just gets clunkier on repeated views, and he's not nearly as successful at making the exposition sound natural and conversational as the other actors are. But then again. That may just be the problem of "The Dead Wives Club," previously discussed. When actors get in role-ruts, it sometimes dulls the range of their imagination.

Still and all, biopics may suit him. (And they definitely suit Oscar.) He was very good in The Aviator (2004) but here's the other odd thing about his "overdue" status. It comes more from the fact that he's his generation's biggest star than from "should've won!" issues. I personally don't think he's ever come close to winning (which is usually when overdue status sets in). In 1993 the race was between Fiennes & Jones, in 2004 there was no race at all with Jamie Foxx sweeping in one of those Helen Mirren/Colin Firth style inevitabilities. 2006 was a "just happy to be nominated" situation and for the wrong film to boot.

Though he has to be considered a contender for a multiplicity of reasons, the year has barely begun. Other major stars that may have roles tailor-made for their persona or skill set include George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Mel Gibson, Ryan Gosling and there's always the reliably strong actors like Gary Oldman, Ralph Fiennes, Woody Harrelson or the rising stars like Michael Fassbender who already seems to be staking claim on 2011 and His.

I have lots more to say about the actors but I'll save some of it for the supporting actor post.

What do you make of The Film Experience chart or Leo's "winning" chances?

Saturday
Apr022011

Too Much Adaptation.

Apologies: Having some computer maintenance issues today so it's slow going this weekend on these new Oscar predictions. Currently offline, I'm marvelling at the lack of Original material in the movies this year. It seems like almost all the major contenders are adapted from books or plays. For every 7 viable from a distance adapted contenders there's maybe one something that seems "original" screenplay-ish. Hmmmm.

Saturday
Apr022011

Animation in 2011/12. Oscar Predix and "Brave"

Will 2011 go down in history as the year when animation's hot streak finally cooled? Oh sure, bix box office awaits a great number of the toons arriving this year but box office isn't everything. You can be a huge hit and impress virtually no one (just look through some past box office charts and think about the way people talk about some of those "blockbusters") since audiences have a Pavlovian response to certain genres in certain decades with certain ubiquitous forms of advertising: Must Buy Ticket.

Will we see a 2006 rematch in Animated Feature?

It's hard to figure which animated films will be nominated for Best Animated Feature come January since half of the releases (literally by my count) are sequels. Sequels are judged differently than original fare. Half of our response (at the very least) is in the way the new film dialogues with the old. Does it add to the conversation, merely parrot it, deepen it, spoil it, change it? Once studio creatives get too self-referential or repetitive they can turn into a soulless production line workers and whole genres can become museum pieces rather than evolving vivid living things. The documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty, which I highly recommend to animation lovers, charts this very problem in regards to Disney. It documents the dwindling audience love and studio creativity in the 1980s through to its spectacular rebirth in the early 90s. It's a good film to see to remind ourselves that we can only borrow heat from past glories for so long before things gets chilly.

Click here for  Oscar charts / Animated Feature predictions

Here's a potentially happy visual extro that has nothing to do with this year's Oscars. Here are three concept drawings from Pixar's Summer 2012 feature BRAVE.

Since the delightfully cute-looking Newt was cancelled it's Pixar's only original film in the pipeline with sequels to Cars (this year) and Monster's Inc (called Monsters University in late 2012) bookending it. Brave (formerly titled The Bear and the Bow) features their very first lead heroine "Merida" (voiced by Kelly MacDonald), and was at one point going to be Pixar's first movie directed by a woman and then it wasn't and now it's (co)directed by her. It's also NOT a sequel. Let's hope it's great so that 50% of the population (the ones with vaginas) don't get blamed for spoiling Pixar's unbroken winning streak*.

*If you ask me this "ALWAYS PERFECT" business is a myth, a huge pitcher of Kool-Aid we all drank. It would be much healthier to let go of it. Though it made a billion dollars Cars (2006) is NOT a good movie. People are always (still) making excuses for it like "I didn't love it but..." Just stop making excuses. Accept that they've already stumbled once and we won't be pressuring them with this "Perfect!" myth. And we won't be so heartbroken when they start churning out a gazillion sequels. And they won't be so nervous about mixing up the formulas a bit or scared into only making sequels.

 

Friday
Apr012011

2011 Oscar Contenders. Did I Miss Any?

UPDATED W/ SUGGESTIONS - FIRST WAVE CHART PREDIX (04/01 THROUGH 04/08)

As you can see over at the Oscar chart pages, I'm setting up the charts for Oscar's 84th year. This takes me awhile, alas. But here are some films I'm pondering for the "April Fool" predictions. i.e. not truly a prank but still foolish to try and guess this far in advance. I'll be filling in the pages all week. I never get this done in one day's time. Bear with me. Am I missing any 2011 films of note?

BIGGIES
These are the films that only have to be "good". Some will be much better than that and others will be worse but they'll get plenty of attention no matter what.

  • CARNAGE Roman Polanski adapts the terrific one set/four character darkly comedic stage play. Can Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet and John C Reilly pull this off?
  • HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 Will Oscar take this opportunity to reward the series as a whole or will they figure a couple of nods here and there were reward enough? 
  • THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET Martin Scorsese tries his hand at adapting a children's book, a Caldecott winner too.
  • J. EDGAR Clint Eastwood's Hoover biopic is supposedly a 2012 film. But Clint is fast and they've been filming for some time. I'd be very surprised if it wasn't December 2011.
  • SUPER 8 JJ Abrams tries to become the new Spielberg with this child's eye sci-fi
  • THE TREE OF LIFE Terrence Malick's mysterious 50s-era (sort of) drama. Even if people don't love it, they'll pretend that they do.
  • WAR HORSE It's been six years since Steven Spielberg was enmeshed in an Oscar race (Munich). Will this WWI drama return him to AMPAS's good graces (not that he ever left. Can we please let someone else present Best Picture goddamnit.)

Many more after the jump. What am I missing? Save me from my own forgetfulness!

Click to read more ...