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This year’s Oscars promise to be duller and whiter than ever. But I still like predicting elections, and making lists, and I guess I like movies too. So let’s talk Oscars!
I really mean it about the “whiter” bit. Not only is the ceremony to be hosted by beloved caucasian icons Anne Hathaway and James Franco, but from what I can see there is a virtual zero percent chance that we see any nonwhite actors or directors nominated (possibly screenwriters too, but I’m not as sure because I don’t know what any of them look like and don’t really care to [and anyway Aaron Sorkin is probably white enough to cancel out anyone who isn't]). The only black actor with even the remotest of chances at a nomination is Halle Berry, who scored a (typically meaningless) Golden Globe nod for a movie called Frankie and Alice that currently has a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. If her name does somehow show up on Oscar nomination day, you can be assured this was done strictly to mitigate this whitepocalypse of a ceremony. (more…)
Well, most of the major non-Oscar nominations are out, including today’s SAG press release. Best Picture is looking more and more like a duel between Slumdog and Benjamin Button, and I have a feeling it’s going to be that way down to the end. The other three spots are likely to be filled by Milk and two of Frost/Nixon, The Dark Knight, and Revolutionary Road. Knight looks to be struggling a bit, which is ridiculous, but I still have to believe it edges in.
Anne Hathaway now has a solid advantage over all her competition in the Best Actress category. There are six other contenders at this point, and no matter who gets left out it’s going to piss people off — this is probably the single strongest category in 2008. Meryl is in, the rest are anybody’s guess — Sally Hawkins, though a major hit on most critics’ lists, took a big blow today from the bastards in the SAG. Melissa Leo gets a boost, as does Angelina although I’m still not convinced she can break in over Kristin Scott Thomas.
Best Actor has not changed. Either DiCaprio or Eastwood could squeeze in, but at this point I think Jenkins, Langella, Penn, Pitt, Rourke is starting to look like a safe prediction.
Penelope Cruz is kind of running away with the Supporting Actress category, though Viola Davis is in some ways right there with her. It’s still going to be shocking if Cruz doesn’t win unless there are some upsets in Davis’s favor at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards.
Supporting Actor still belongs to Heath Ledger and regardless of TDK’s status in Best Pic that isn’t changing.
Slumdog v. Button will continue their battle in the Best Director category, where Danny Boyle and David Fincher are the major candidates. In the Screenplay categories, I predict wins for Benjamin Button and Milk.
Full prediction chart below, with five predicted nominees in bold and winners italicized.
The first “real” awards of the movie season come from the National Board of Review, notorious for throwing a few curveballs at you while tending to solidify the status of several major Oscar contenders. You can’t be too sure about some of them — as I recall they gave “Best Director” to Tim Burton last year, and he did not end up receiving an Oscar nomination — but let’s take a look anyway and see if we can discern some of the major implications.
First, we have Slumdog Millionaire being named Best Film. In my previous entry I categorized this as a “likely” Best Pic contender; now I’m not only willing to say it’s a lock for a nomination, but I’d call it the frontrunner to win the big award in ’09.
NBR also lists their ten runners-up, in no particular order. First, the non-surprises: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Gran Torino, Milk, WALL-E, The Wrestler. That leaves three movies I’d call surprises (mostly due to what’s been left out): Burn After Reading, Changeling, and Defiance. Burn After Reading is a complete left-field pick, a fun but extremely odd and very slight Coen Brothers effort. Defiance isn’t out yet, but all the early reviews I’ve seen so far have been pretty uniformly disappointing. Changeling is not a huge surprise, especially because the NBR has such a huge Clint Eastwood fetish, but it’s a little jolting to see it here rather than Revolutionary Road, The Reader, Doubt, or Rachel Getting Married. This doesn’t mean those four movies are out of contention for Best Picture, and it doesn’t mean Changeling is suddenly in. But it does confirm to me that four of the five nominees are now very likely to be Slumdog Millionaire, Benjamin Button, Milk, and Frost/Nixon, with the fight for that fifth spot looking like something of a free-for-all (though if the Academy is smart they’ll put in Dark Knight). Could both of Kate Winslet’s highly anticipated films be denied?
NBR’s Acting awards don’t help Winslet’s causeÂ much, either. They did give Best Actor to Clint for Gran Torino, but I’m pretty sure these guys would have given it to Clint if he were in The Love Guru. I guess this does confirm he’s a reasonably likely nominee this year, though I’d still put Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke, and Frank Langella ahead of him. If Clint is in there that leaves a spot for Richard Jenkins, Leonardo DiCaprio, or Brad Pitt, and right now Jenkins has the most buzz for the little-seen The Visitor. So there’s another door potentially slammed on Revolutionary Road.
For Actress, Anne Hathaway gets the call for Rachel Getting Married. This maybe does give her a slight lead in the Oscar crowd, though frankly hers wasn’t even the best performance in that film let alone any other this year. Meryl Streep will inevitably receive her billionth nomination (but probably will not win). Kristin Scott Thomas has been widely expected to get in for I’ve Loved You So Long, but that movie gets no mention from the NBR. Hmm. I’ll still classify her as “likely,” although she probably now falls behind Melissa Leo (who shares the “Spotlight Award” with Richard Jenkins) for her raved about peformance in indie Frozen River. The fifth slot may well go to Angelina Jolie, horrifying a prospect as that is — particularly if that means Sally Hawkins gets dissed for her transcendental role in Happy Go Lucky.
And Kate Winslet? Not impossible, but…well…could be at the back of the line. We will see.
NBR did not give Supporting Actor to Heath Ledger (why so serious, NBR?) but he’s still winning his posthumous Oscar. This one goes to Josh Brolin’s very serious turn in Milk, which vaults him into position as a likely nominee. Philip Seymour Hoffman will probably end up in there too for Doubt, as he’s supposed to be typically brilliant. I think James Franco might get in there for Milk as well, and maybe surprisingly the last spot seems destined to go to Robert Downey, Jr. for Tropic Thunder. I guess I’ll actually have to watch that now. If anyone else fades, Bill Irwin could sneak in there for Rachel. Another dark horse is Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road, but so far that isn’t getting nominated anywhere else so why here?
Supporting Actress goes to Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. She and Viola Davis in Doubt are the only pretty sure nominees in this year’s most wide open acting category. Who else? Could have Marisa Tomei, Rosemary DeWitt (the superior female performance in Rachel), Sophie Okonedo. Benjamin Button contains a bunch of well-received supporting performances from women, including Taraji P. Henson. This may actually be Kate Winslet’s best shot at getting nominated for her Nazi turn in The Reader, but I’m not 100% she’s being submitted for the Supporting category. If she wants a shot, she should be.
Best Director has been given to David Fincher, and it’s fair to say he probably will get his first much-deserved Oscar nomination this time for Benjamin Button. Hard to believe Danny Boyle isn’t also automatically in there, although he’s listed alongside an Indian co-director for Slumdog (Loveleen Tandan) so I’m not sure if that complicates things. Gus Van Sant and Ron Howard are extremely likely as well, so once again you’re left with that mysterious fifth spot, as in the Best Pic category. The Academy will often take this chance to reward a beloved director whose film is not in Best Picture contention, as they have in recent years with Julian Schnabel, Paul Greengrass, and Mike Leigh. That could mean Leigh stands a shot again this year for Happy Go Lucky, or possibly Thomas McCarthy for The Visitor. Of course, Clint Eastwood could always swoop in and spoil everything, too.
NBR’s Adapted Screenplay award is a tie between Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog and Eric Roth for Button, and they probably will remain the two on top fighting for the Oscar. Best Original Screenplay goes to Nick Schenk for Gran Torino, who now enters a potentially fierce battle with Dustin Lance Black (Milk), Robert Siegel (The Wrestler), Woody Allen and others.
Do I really believe Revolutionary Road is going to be universally shut out from all major categories? No, not yet. But it’s definitely been hurt today, and it’s difficult to see where it’s going to fit in with all these other highly competitive films. One thing we can say after today is our big buzz winners are Gran Torino and Slumdog Millionaire, which as I mentioned now has a very clear path to Oscar immortality.
The first stab — as in most years, I have yet to see the vast majority of these films at this point. But I’m still usually pretty good, considering. Potential nominees are split into “lock” (guaranteed nom), “likely” (would be considered a surprise if omitted), “possible” (definite contender but nothing is certain), and “unsure” (not enough information on the film at this time to say). Have at it.
|The Curious Case of Benjamin Button||Likely|
|The Dark Knight||Possible|
|Rachel Getting Married||Possible|
|Meryl Streep (Doubt)||Likely|
|Kristin Scott Thomas (I’ve Loved You So Long)||Likely|
|Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)||Likely|
|Sally Hawkins (Happy Go Lucky)||Possible|
|Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road)||Possible|
|Melissa Leo (Frozen River)||Possible|
|Angelina Jolie (Changeling)||Possible|
|Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)||Lock|
|Sean Penn (Milk)||Lock|
|Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)||Lock|
|Richard Jenkins (The Visitor)||Possible|
|Leonardo DiCaprio (Revolutionary Road)||Possible|
|Brad Pitt (Benjamin Button)||Unsure|
|Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)||Unsure|
|Will Smith (Seven Pounds)||Unsure|
|Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)||Likely|
|Viola Davis (Doubt)||Likely|
|Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler)||Likely|
|Elsa Zylberstein (I’ve Loved You So Long)||Possible|
|Rosemary DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married)||Possible|
|Sophie Okonedo (Secret Life of Bees)||Possible|
|Amy Adams (Doubt)||Possible|
|Taraji P. Henson (Benjamin Button)||Unsure|
|Tilda Swinton (Benjamin Button)||Unsure|
|Cate Blanchett (Benjamin Button)||Unsure|
|Kate Winslet (The Reader)||Unsure|
|Heath Ledger (Dark Knight)||Lock|
|Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)||Likely|
|Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire)||Possible|
|James Franco (Milk)||Possible|
|Josh Brolin (Milk)||Possible|
|Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road)||Possible|
|Robert Downey, Jr. (Tropic Thunder)||Possible|
|Eddie Marsan (Happy Go Lucky)||Possible|
|Liev Schreiber (Defiance)||Unsure|
|Ralph Fiennes (The Reader)||Unsure|
|David Fincher (Benjamin Button)||Likely|
|Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)||Likely|
|Jonathan Demme (Rachel Getting Married)||Possible|
|Gus Van Sant (Milk)||Possible|
|Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road)||Possible|
|Christopher Nolan (Dark Knight)||Possible|
|John Patrick Shanley (Doubt)||Possible|
|Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon)||Possible|
|Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler)||Possible|
|Mike Leigh (Happy Go Lucky)||Possible|
|Thomas McCarthy (The Visitor)||Possible|
|Baz Luhrmann (Australia)||Possible|
|Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)||Unsure|
|Stephen Daldry (The Reader)||Unsure|
|Eric Roth (Benjamin Button)||Likely|
|Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire)||Likely|
|Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road)||Likely|
|John Patrick Shanley (Doubt)||Likely|
|Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon)||Likely|
|Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan (Dark Knight)||Possible|
|David Hare (The Reader)||Unsure|
|Woody Allen (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)||Likely|
|Robert Siegel (The Wrestler)||Likely|
|Dustin Lance Black (Milk)||Likely|
|Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon (WALL-E)||Possible|
|Jenny Lumet (Rachel Getting Married)||Possible|
|Thomas McCarthy (The Visitor)||Possible|
|Baz Luhrmann, et al (Australia)||Possible|
|Mike Leigh (Happy Go Lucky)||Possible|
|Philippe Claudel (I’ve Loved You So Long)||Possible|
|Charlie Kaufman (Synecdoche, New York)||Possible|
|Nick Schenk (Gran Torino)||Unsure|
|Grant Nieporte (Seven Pounds)||Unsure|
The 2007 movie year has officially closed for business with a surprisingly decent Academy Awards ceremony. Kyla and I have put together our individual lists of the best films and performances of ’07, same as we did last year.
Here they are:
10 Best Films of 2007
10 Best Leading Male Performances of 2007
10 Best Leading Female Performances of 2007
10 Best Supporting Male Performances of 2007
10 Best Supporting Female Performances of 2007
Whether the Oscars happen or not, nominations will be announced in five days. That means it’s time to end the guessing and place my final bets. Here we go (expected winners in bold):
Into the Wild
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
P.T. Anderson (There Will Be Blood)
Tim Burton (Sweeney Todd)
Ethan & Joel Coen (No Country for Old Men)
Sean Penn (Into the Wild)
Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell & the Butterfly)
George Clooney (Michael Clayton)
Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd)
Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)
Julie Christie (Away From Her)
Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose)
Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart)
Laura Linney (The Savages)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James…)
Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War)
Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild)
Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton)
Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There)
Ruby Dee (American Gangster)
Catherine Keener (Into the Wild)
Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)
Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)
Diablo Cody (Juno)
Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton)
Tamara Jenkins (The Savages)
Kelly Masterson (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead)
Nancy Oliver (Lars and the Real Girl)
P.T. Anderson (There Will Be Blood)
Ethan & Joel Coen (No Country for Old Men)
Christopher Hampton (Atonement)
Ronald Harwood (The Diving Bell & the Butterfly)
Sean Penn (Into the Wild)
I probably have no business making guesses in the other various categories, but I’m going to anyway (except for the short film ones, because I don’t even know what the candidates would be): (more…)
A lot of precursor awards announced in the last week or two — Golden Globe and SAG noms being the big ones. A few significant updates to what’s looking like one of the most potentially interesting Oscar seasons in a while.
Best Actor might be the toughest category to predict this year. Daniel Day-Lewis and George Clooney are looking like sure things at this point, and the race might end up neck and neck between those two. Right now DDL has the momentum. Emile Hirsch has rocketed into the top tier after Into the Wild‘s huge showing at the SAGs, and more people than I expected are remembering Viggo Mortensen’s amazing performance in Eastern Promises. Despite the SAG’s snub of Johnny Depp, his reviews and popularity lead me to believe he’s still more likely to receive an Oscar nod than Ryan Gosling. Denzel and James McAvoy are hanging in there, but the SAG definitely hurt their chances. In any case, I’m very certain the five nominees will come from that pool of eight.
For Best Actress, Julie Christie and Marion Cotillard are the two definites, with Christie currently leading for a movie nobody saw (man, no one is going to watch the Oscars this year, are they). Ellen Page is a good bet as well for her raved-about performance in the indie comedy Juno. Angelina Jolie is a level down, but she’s Angelina Jolie and she’s in the mix for the Globes and SAGs, so expect the Academy to select her, too. That leaves only one tough call in this category — Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, or Keira Knightley in the fifth spot? It’s really anyone’s guess right now, but Blanchett got the SAG’s vote and so that’s what I’m going with for now.
The Supporting Actor category has been set for a while now — Javier Bardem’s terrifying turn as killer Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men is the safest bet in this entire race. It is extremely likely he wins, and there is no chance he does not get nominated whatsoever. Casey Affleck has shown up on pretty much everybody’s list for his role in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, so he’s in. Same for Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton. Hal Holbrook, while not an absolute certainty, is very likely to take the aged veteran spot in this crowd. The fifth spot seemed to be going to Philip Seymour Hoffman, who gave three superb performances this year, but lately there’s a big push to get Tommy Lee Jones in there for No Country as his lead in In the Valley of Elah has lost its buzz. It’ll be one of those two.
Supporting Actress is the weakest category this year. Amy Ryan is the most popular pick to win, and Cate Blanchett looks poised to have a two-nom year (supporting for I’m Not There, lead for Elizabeth: The Golden Age). Tilda Swinton has made about every precursor to date, and Ruby Dee is looking like the Hal Holbrook of this category. Fifth spot will be either young Saoirse Ronan or Catherine Keener, and I’m saying Keener right now following the SAG’s Atonement dis.
The Best Director Oscar will no doubt go to Joel and Ethan Coen, and Joe Wright’s work on Atonement has been roundly praised. The Academy has never been warm to Tim Burton, but many are calling Sweeney Todd his best work and I’m not sure that can be ignored. For stupid reasons The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (one of the most well reviewed films of the year) is not eligible in the Foreign film category, but director Julian Schnabel will probably get recognition here. Fifth spot is a tough one — Paul Thomas Anderson for his challenging epic There Will Be Blood? Sidney Lumet for adding another masterpiece to his unbelievably long and impressive resume? Sean Penn because the Academy (and SAG) love Sean Penn? Right now I’m saying Ridley Scott for the fantastic American Gangster, but don’t hold me to it.
And finally, Best Picture. No Country for Old Men is the most well reviewed movie of 2007 and will be nominated. Atonement is the most Academy-friendly film, and the reviews are good enough to assure it a spot. American Gangster and Into the Wild have the most momentum right now, and IÂ don’t believe either will be left out.Â This is really looking like the big four at the moment –Â but it could all change tomorrow. Seriously, there’s a huge amount of unpredictability for Best Pic this year. It seems like Juno will probably get a nomination, but the same could be said for Michael Clayton and Sweeney Todd and There Will Be Blood and what’s this about 3:10 to Yuma suddenly making a comeback???Â Then we’ve got Charlie Wilson’s War, Diving Bell, Kite Runner, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, The Savages, Eastern Promises, The Great Debaters, Hairspray… you can’t rule any of these out yet.Â Okay, maybe Hairspray. I hope. In any case, this is what makes the whole thing fun. Who will win? No Country for Old Men has everything going for it, so I’ll stick with it for now.
Full prediction chart after the break. (more…)
The first 2007 movie awards that matter were announced yesterday, by the National Board of Review. These are the first real hints at what some of the Oscar nominees might look like, and there were some pretty huge surprises.
Many supposed contenders were omitted from the Board’s “Top Ten Films” list (American Gangster being the biggest), while some movies with very little awards buzz made the cut (The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bucket List). Some potential nominees had their Oscar hopes raised significantly: by taking “Best Actor,” George Clooney is suddenly very much in the running for what might be the toughest category to pick. Casey Affleck and Julie Christie have cemented their status as nominees in supporting categories (for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Away From Her, respectively). Perhaps the biggest winner is Sweeney Todd — Tim Burton upset the competition to win “Best Director,” while the musical itself was named one of the year’s best.
Some old favorites remain favorites — by taking “Best Film,” No Country for Old Men officially has zero chance of being snubbed for an Oscar nom (despite the teenager sitting behind me in the theater who left complaining it was “the most pointless movie since I Heart Huckabees”). Atonement, which may be more traditionally Oscar-friendly, continues to look strong. It’s clear that this year Juno is the little indie that could, and if the Academy wishes it to be this year’s Little Miss Sunshine, then so it shall be.
Below the cut I’ve charted my predictions, and how they’ve shifted since November. (more…)
December is almost upon us. So how’s that Oscar race shaping up?
Actually, this is looking like one of the most competitive races in a long time. The closest we have to a “sure winner” in any category would be Atonement for Best Picture, and that’s based almost entirely on expectations. If that movie turns out to be good but not great, suddenly everything’s wide open.
So, based on all that I’ve seen and read so far, I’ve taken a stab at ranking the potential nominees in all major acting categories, plus Best Pic and Director. These aren’t rankings based on personal opinion — I don’t think I’ve seen half of these films yet — but ranked by the likelihood of their receiving Oscar nominations. There are ten selections per category, and if the real nominees were announced today I believe they’d consist of the first five (bolded) from each list. There’s plenty of time for all this to change, of course, which is what makes it fun (for me, anyway).
Also, I’m not guessing winners at this point. (more…)