Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesday Oscar Watch with Abe

Welcome to a new weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Watch with Abe. It’s a bit early to be able to accurately predict the eventual Oscar nominees, but around this time, plenty of likely contenders are being released. I’ll be looking every Wednesday at the awards chances for all of the films released the previous week. Until I begin my official predictions, I’ll be adding and removing contenders as their popularity, buzz, or reviews rise and fall. Chime in with your thoughts on the Oscar chances for these films in the comments section.

This harrowing film is sure to attract Oscar attention; the only question is whether backlash will hurt it. The frank answer is probably not, and even if some voters are turned off by hype from Oprah and Tyler Perry that they feel isn’t deserved, the stars of the film are still likely to make it into their respective categories. The expansion of the Best Picture category to ten nominees makes this film a very strong contender to make it onto that list. Mo’Nique is probably a slam dunk in the Best Supporting Actress category, but buzz I’ve heard (and read in Entertainment Weekly) about Mariah Carey and Paula Patton is going too far. I realize that Best Supporting Actress is currently very up in the air, with Mo’Nique as the only solid contender, so I suppose anything is possible, but I still don’t think either of them can make it in. Gabourey Sidibe will probably make the cut, though she’ll have to beat out other breakout actresses like Abbie Cornish and Carey Mulligan and veterans like Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep (unless these five actresses make up the list). First-time actress Jennifer Hudson beat out Cate Blanchett for “Dreamgirls” a few years ago even when support for her film dwindled, and this performance probably has just as much enthusiastic support, even if people aren’t wowed by the film.

That Evening Sun
This tiny indie with an extraordinarily limited theatrical release isn’t going to place in any category except perhaps one. Hal Holbrook earned his first Oscar nomination two years ago at age 82 for his brief performance in “Into the Wild.” That film didn’t do well at the Oscars, earning only one other nomination, and clearly the seasoned Holbrook is respected and well-liked. Therefore, he should be considered a legitimate contender for this film, and if he can manage to edge out some of the younger, more popular actors in the lead actor category. Melissa Leo did it last year for “Frozen River,” so maybe Holbrook’s got a shot. Also, in 2007, young actor Emile Hirsch was headed for an Oscar nomination for “Into the Wild,” but lost out to veteran Tommy Lee Jones on announcement day. “In the Valley of Elah” was a more well-known film, but they’re still something about rewarding an actor who’s been working in the industry for a while (see also: Richard Jenkins for “The Visitor”).

A Christmas Carol
Disney’s latest animated adventure isn’t receiving terribly positive reviews, and its early release date doesn’t give it much buzz to coast on for the Oscars. This might have a decent shot at the Best Animated Feature race if there weren’t so many other big films this year (“Up,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” “The Princess and the Frog,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Coraline,” to name a few). In 2004, the similarly imaginative “The Polar Express” received 3 Oscar nods for didn’t make it in to the Best Animated Feature category. The November release, despite its confusing nature given the Christmas subject of the film, may not hurt it since early-in-the-year films have made it in before, but what’s troubling is that often smaller films eclipse larger ones (“Surf’s Up” over “The Simpsons Movie,” for instance). Even so, I don’t think this film has the support to take it very far, and maybe a technical nomination or a song nod, if there is one, is all that this movie should expect.

The Men Who Stare At Goats
This wacked-out film isn’t really Oscar material, but voters do love George Clooney, and past four-time nominee Jeff Bridges and two-time winner Kevin Spacey are also in the cast. Clooney’s Oscar buzz will be for “Up in the Air,” though if he’s considered a supporting actor in this movie, despite the fact that he’s not really, he might have a chance. I suspect his flashback haircut will do him in, and other performances will beat him out. Neither Bridges nor Spacey have the material to make it in, and this won’t be Ewan McGregor’s first shot at the Oscar race. It’s possible that voters may feel like laughing and nominate this in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, but I doubt it.

Supernatural thrillers The Box and The Fourth Kind haven’t been treated kindly by reviewers. Also out in theatres this week are non-starter indies like Collapse, Endgame, and Splinterheads.

Be sure to come back next Wednesday for a look at this Friday’s theatrical releases and their Oscar chances. And remember to offer your thoughts on the chances for these films in the comments!

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