Archive for March, 2007

2007 Films with Awards Potential

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

We all know about the big blockbusters coming up this year – new Pirates, Spider-Man, Harry Potter, and the first installment of the His Dark Materials adaptations, The Golden Compass. But what movies are we going to be talking about at the end of the year? What will get the elusive “awards buzz?” There’s no way for me to know that, obviously, but here’s a big list of probable candidates. A few will undoubtedly be great, and many will just as certainly be disappointing, but odds are a good chunk of next year’s Oscar gold is buried somewhere in this list. It’s organized by the films’ supposed release months, many of which are likely to change. In case it’s unclear, “d” is the director(s), “s” the starring actors, “sp” the screenplay author(s), and “imdb” the plot summary pulled from the Internet Movie Database. Where you see “comments,” that’s me.

d: Lajos Koltai
s: Claire Danes, Patrick Wilson, Meryl Streep
sp: Michael Cunningham (The Hours [novel])
imdb: “A dying woman reflects on the time in her youth when she met the love of her life as her two daughters wrestle with their mother’s impending death and their own personal issues.”
release date: June

A Mighty Heart
d: Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People, Tristram Shandy)
s: Angelina Jolie, Archie Panjabi, Irfan Khan
sp: Michael Winterbottom, Laurence Coriat (Wonderland)
imdb: “Mariane Pearl (Jolie) embarks on a frantic search to locate her journalist husband, Daniel, when he goes missing in Pakistan.”
release date: June
comments: A lot of people are angry about this movie, but they were about United 93 as well, and that one turned out to be pretty damn good. We’ll see.

An American Crime
d: Tommy O’Haver (Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss, Get Over It, Ella Enchanted)
s: Ellen Page, Catherine Keener, Hayley McFarland
sp: Tommy O’Haver, Irene Turner
imdb: “The true story of suburban housewife Gertrude Baniszewski, who kept a teenage girl locked in the basement of her Indiana home during the 1960s.”
release date: August
comments: Dark, but could this be the role that gets Catherine Keener her Oscar?

d: Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice)
s: Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Romola Garai
sp: Christopher Hampton (The Quiet American)
imdb: “13 year old Briony wrongly accuses Robbie of a terrible crime but the only person who doesn’t believe her is her older sister Cecilia and now their lives shall change forever. Based on the novel by Ian McEwan.”
release date: August

d: François Girard
s: Keira Knightley, Michael Pitt, Kôji Yakusho
sp: François Girard, Michael Golding
imdb: “The story of a married silkworm merchant-turned-smuggler in 19th century France traveling to Japan for his town’s supply of silkworms after a disease wipes out their African supply. During his stay in Japan, he becomes obsessed with the concubine of a local baron.”
release date: August

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
d: Andrew Dominik
s: Brad Pitt, Zooey Deschanel, Casey Affleck
sp: Andrew Dominik
imdb: “Robert Ford joins Jesse James’s gang, only to become resentful of the legendary outlaw and hatch a plan to kill the fastest gun in the West.”
release date: September

The Bucket List
d: Rob Reiner (This is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me, The Princess Bride)
s: Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hayes
sp: Justin Zackham
imdb: “Two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.”
release date: September
comments: At least worth the novelty of a bald Jack Nicholson.

Eastern Promises
d: David Cronenberg (Videodrome, The Fly, A History of Violence)
s: Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel
sp: Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things, Amazing Grace)
imdb: “A mysterious and ruthless man is tied to one of London’s most notorious organized crime families. His carefully maintained existence is jarred when he crosses paths with an innocent midwife trying to right a wrong.”
release date: September

I’m Not There
d: Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine, Far From Heaven)
s: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere
sp: Todd Haynes, Oren Moverman (Married Life)
imdb: “Ruminations on the life of Bob Dylan, where seven characters embody a different aspect of the musician’s life and work.”
release date: September
comments: I don’t really know what it’s going to take for me to buy Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan, but there’s definitely buzz here.

In the Valley of Elah
d: Paul Haggis (Crash)
s: Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Jonathan Tucker
sp: Paul Haggis
imdb: “A career officer (Jones) investigates the disappearance of his son (Tucker), an exemplary soldier who went AWOL after his recent return from Iraq.”
release date: September
comments: There’s really no buzz about this yet, but the Paul Haggis machine has come out of nowhere before.

Michael Clayton
d: Tony Gilroy (directorial debut)
s: George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton
sp: Tony Gilroy (The Devil’s Advocate, Proof of Life, The Bourne Identity)
imdb: “A New York attorney learns that after 15 years of cleaning up his high profile clients problems, they can come back to haunt you, in what will be the last and worst days of his career.”
release date: September
comments: Tom Wilkinson has deserved an Oscar for a while now, and there’s a definite possibility for one here.

No Country for Old Men
d: Ethan Coen & Joel Coen (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou)
s: Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson
sp: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
imdb: “Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon some dead bodies, a stash of heroin and more than $2 million in cash near the Rio Grande.”
release date: September
comments: This could be the Coen brothers’ much needed comeback film.

3:10 to Yuma
d: James Mangold (Girl Interrupted, Identity, Walk the Line)
s: Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Peter Fonda
sp: Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean, Collateral)
imdb: “A small-time rancher agrees to hold a captured outlaw who’s awaiting a train to go to court in Yuma. A battle of wills ensues as the outlaw tries to psych out the rancher.”
release date: October
comments: The idea of Russell Crowe trying to psych out Christian Bale for the duration of this movie is pretty exciting.

Cassandra’s Dream
d: Woody Allen (Annie Hall, Manhattan, Match Point)
s: Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell, Hayley Atwell
sp: Woody Allen
imdb: “The story of two Cockney brothers (Farrell and McGregor) in south London and their relationship with a young woman (Atwell) who lands in London on her search for fortune.”
release date: October
comments: Can Woody repeat the success of Match Point in another grim, English drama? Could be, but Colin Farrell reading Allen’s unique dialogue could be difficult to buy.

The Golden Age
d: Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth, The Four Feathers)
s: Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush
sp: Michael Hirst (Elizabeth), William Nicholson (Gladiator)
imdb: “An exploration of the relationship between Elizabeth I (Blanchett) and the adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh (Owen).”
release date: October
comments: Sequel to Elizabeth, which was a great movie…but did we really need a sequel?

Margot at the Wedding
d: Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale)
s: Nicole Kidman, Jack Black, Jennifer Jason Leigh
sp: Noah Baumbach
imdb: “A drama/comedy set over a single weekend, where a mother takes her son on a visit to his aunt’s home.”
release date: October
comments: Will probably be too weird for the Academy, but Baumbach has so much promise.

My Blueberry Nights
d: Kar Wai Wong (2046)
s: Norah Jones, Jude Law, David Strathairn
sp: Lawrence Block, Kar Wai Wong
imdb: “A young woman (Jones) takes a soul-searching journey across America to resolve her questions about love while encountering a series of offbeat characters along the way.”
release date: October

The Other Boleyn Girl
d: Justin Chadwick (Bleak House)
s: Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana
sp: Peter Morgan (The Last King of Scotland, The Queen)
imdb: “Two sisters contend for the affection of King Henry VIII.”
release date: October
comments: Portman and Johansson are the stars, but the interesting part should be the usually reserved Bana as Henry VIII.

Things We Lost in the Fire
d: Susanne Bier (After the Wedding)
s: Halle Berry, Benicio Del Toro, David Duchovny
sp: Alan Loeb
imdb: “A recent widow invites her husband’s troubled best friend to live with her and her two children. As he gradually turns his life around, he helps the family cope and confront their loss.”
release date: October

American Gangster
d: Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator)
s: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Cuba Gooding Jr.
sp: Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, Clear and Present Danger, Gangs of New York)
imdb: “A drug lord smuggles heroin into Harlem during the 1970s by hiding the stash inside the coffins of American soldiers returning from Vietnam.”
release date: November
comments: An early frontrunner for big awards just because of the names attached, but that didn’t help All the King’s Men any last year.

The Kite Runner
d: Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland, Stranger Than Fiction)
s: Shaun Toub, Khalid Abdalla, Mason Hsieh
sp: David Benioff (25th Hour, Troy, Stay)
imdb: “After spending years in California, Amir returns to his homeland in Afghanistan to help his old friend Hassan, whose son is in trouble.”
release date: November

Lions for Lambs
d: Robert Redford (Ordinary People, A River Runs Through It, Quiz Show)
s: Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford
sp: Matthew Michael Carnahan
imdb: “Injuries sustained by two Army ranger behind enemy lines in Afghanistan set off a sequence of events involving a congressman (Cruise), a journalist (Streep) and a professor (Redford).”
release date: November

Love in the Time of Cholera
d: Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
s: Benjamin Bratt, Javier Bardem, Giovanna Mezzogiorno
sp: Ronald Harwood (The Pianist)
imdb: “A love triangle set in turn-of-the-century South America, where two lovers wait out careers, marriages, affairs and deaths until they can reunite.”
release date: November
comments: A lot of early buzz for Bardem.

Married Life
d: Ira Sachs
s: Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper, Patricia Clarkson
sp: Oren Moverman (I’m Not There), Ira Sachs
imdb: “A 1940s-set drama where an adulterous man plots his wife’s death instead of putting her through the humiliation of a divorce.”
release date: November
comments: Haven’t heard much about this one, but Cooper and Clarkson are two of the best film actors around right now and the two of them together should be something to see.

d: Gavin Hood (Tsotsi)
s: Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep
sp: Kelley Sane
imdb: “A CIA analyst questions his assignment after witnessing an unorthodox interrogation at a secret detention facility outside the US.”
release date: November

Reservation Road
d: Terry George (Hotel Rwanda)
s: Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly
sp: Terry George, John Burnham Schwartz (also wrote the novel)
imdb: “Two families becomes intertwined when the father from one kills the son of the other in a hit-and-run.”
release date: November
comments: A lot of people already think this is Phoenix’s first Oscar win right here. As for Jennifer Connelly, though, I’m thinking she should maybe pick some lighter fare once in a while? Maybe?

Savage Grace
d: Tom Kalin
s: Julianne Moore, Stephen Dillane, Eddie Redmayne
sp: Howard A. Rodman
imdb: “Julianne Moore stars in this dramatization of the shocking Barbara Daly Baekeland murder case, which happened in a posh London flat on Friday 17 November 1972. The bloody crime caused a stir on both sides of the Atlantic and remains one of the most memorable American Tragedies…”
release date: November

There Will Be Blood
d: Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love)
s: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Kevin J. O’Connor
sp: John Logan (Gladiator, The Last Samurai, The Aviator)
imdb: “A story about family, greed, religion, and oil, centered around a turn-of-the-century Texas prospector (Daniel Day-Lewis) in the early days of the business.”
release date: November

Charlie Wilson’s War
d: Mike Nichols (The Graduate, Silkwood, Closer)
s: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman
sp: Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip)
imdb: “A drama based on a Texas congressman Charlie Wilson’s covert dealings in Afghanistan, where his efforts to assist rebels in their war with the Soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects.”
release date: December
comments: Clearly, this is the most Oscar-friendly film of 2007 on paper. Sorkin is the wild card who could make or break it.

d: George Clooney (Good Night and Good Luck)
s: George Clooney, John Krasinski, Renée Zellweger
sp: George Clooney, Steven Soderbergh
imdb: “A romantic comedy set in the world of 1920s football, where the owner (Clooney) of a professional team drafts a straight-laced college sensation (Krasinski), only to watch his new coach fall for his fiancée (Zellweger).”
release date: December

Sweeney Todd
d: Tim Burton (Beetlejuice, Batman, Ed Wood)
s: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman
sp: John Logan (Gladiator, The Last Samurai, The Aviator)
imdb: “Based on the hit Broadway musical which tells the infamous story of Benjamin Barker, a.k.a Sweeney Todd, who sets up a barber shop down in London which is the basis for a sinister partnership with his fellow tenant, Mrs. Lovett.”
release date: December
comments: This could be amazing and it could just as easily be horrible, but you have to believe it will at least be fun. Sacha Baron Cohen’s in it for Chrissake.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
d: Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon, Network, The Verdict)
s: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney
sp: Kelly Masterson
imdb: “When two brothers organize the robbery of their parents’ jewelery store the job goes horribly wrong, triggering a series of events that sends them, their father and one brother’s wife hurtling towards a shattering climax.”
release date: Unknown

Youth Without Youth
d: Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now)
s: Tim Roth, Matt Damon, Bruno Ganz
sp: Francis Ford Coppola
imdb: “A love story wrapped in a mystery. Set in Europe before WWII, a timid professor is changed by a cataclysmic event and explores the mysteries of life.” release date: Unknown
comments: I want to believe Coppola’s got another great one in him.

And now, to further what is clearly an increasingly unhealthy hobby, here are my Oscar nominee predictions for next year, based on my gut and full of movies no one has even seen yet:

American Gangster
Charlie Wilson’s War
The Kite Runner
Lions for Lambs
Reservation Road

Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood)
Marc Forster (The Kite Runner)
Terry George (Reservation Road)
Mike Nichols (Charlie Wilson’s War)
Robert Redford (Lions for Lambs)

Jennifer Connelly (Reservation Road)
Catherine Keener (An American Crime)
Julianne Moore (Savage Grace)
Vanessa Redgrave (Evening)
Meryl Streep (Lions for Lambs)

Khalid Abdalla (The Kite Runner)
Russell Crowe (3:10 to Yuma)
Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Joaquin Phoenix (Reservation Road)
Denzel Washington (American Gangster)

Supporting Actress
Glenn Close (Evening)
Keira Knightley (Atonement)
Rachel McAdams (Married Life)
Ellen Page (An American Crime)
Meryl Streep (Evening)

Supporting Actor
Eric Bana (The Other Boleyn Girl)
Javier Bardem (Love in the Time of Cholera)
Clive Owen (The Golden Age)
Mark Ruffalo (Reservation Road)
Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton)

The indies tend to be more unpredictable, which explains both the number of big studio films in here and the decided lack of minority actors. Presumably (and hopefully) that will change as the year goes on.