Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wednesday Oscar Watch with Abe

Welcome to a new weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Watch with Abe. Every Wednesday, I’m taking a look at the awards chances for all of the films released the previous week. Chime in with your thoughts on the Oscar chances for these films in the comments section.

This week features films released between last week’s edition on November 18th and November 30th.

The Road
This post-apocalyptic film was supposed to be released a year ago and was detested by many when it was shown at that point. Now, it opened to much kinder reviews, but I’m not sure that anyone was quite enthusiastic enough about it to propel it to the top ten films of the year in the Best Picture category. Viggo Mortensen, nominated in 2007 for “Eastern Promises,” might have a chance in the Best Actor category, but I doubt it, and all buzz for child actor Kodi Smit McPhee seems to have died. This may pop up in the Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, or Best Makeup categories, but I think that’s probably it. Another vision of a devastating future, “Children of Men,” was a non-starter at all the precursors and ended up with nods for writing, cinematography, and editing. This film could probably manage a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, but I think there are stronger candidates.

Broken Embraces
Pedro Almodovar’s latest film wasn’t submitted as Spain as its foreign language entry, though his last film, “Volver,” which was submitted, was shockingly snubbed on nomination day. This year is too crowded for Almodovar to break into the Best Director category like he did in 2002 for “Talk to Her,” but I’d hedge my bets more on the lead actress who earned herself her first nomination for “Volver,” Penelope Cruz. She won the Best Supporting Actress award last year, and she probably has a better chance to repeat in that category for “Nine.” She’s likely better off at the Golden Globes.

The Princess and the Frog
This animated film, advertised as being in the tradition of beloved Disney classics, should be a sure thing in two categories, and two categories only. With the Best Animated Feature field expanded to include five nominees, this one looks almost as certain as “Up,” and while it may not be able to beat that film for the trophy, it will certainly earn a nomination. The other category is Best Song, where Disney films used to dominate, and this film should be good to earn a nod there.

Me and Orson Welles
This film is notable only for the performance of breakout actor Christian McKay, who plays the latter role with incredible fervor that he dominates the film without anyone or anything else coming anywhere close. He chews scenery and steals every scene as the eccentric and controlling director, and it’s an extremely impressive turn for the British newcomer. The film doesn’t stand a chance in any other category, and it’s likely that it won’t be seen widely enough to propel McKay to the top. He might break through somewhere, like the Golden Globes, but he’ll only make it all the way to the finish line if the Best Supporting Actor category is especially weak.

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
Robin Wright Penn is a respected actress who has never been up for an Oscar, despite Globe and SAG nods for “Forrest Gump” and a SAG mention for “She’s So Lovely.” This could have been her big role, but the film isn’t very big and hasn’t received overwhelmingly positive reviews, like “Frozen River” or “The Savages,” which both produced Best Actress nominees. Simply put, Penn has too much competition, and if there’s an indie actress who might have a shot at cracking the top five this year, it’s probably past winner Tilda Swinton for “Julia.”

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
This quasi-remake of the 1992 film starring Harvey Keitel is being touted by some prognosticators as a potential awards vehicle for lead actor Nicolas Cage. I’m puzzled since this film, though it’s earned strong reviews, didn’t make any big splash, and it’s not as if the first film was swimming in awards (it was a hit at the Independent Spirit Awards, but that’s not too relevant to the Oscar race). More importantly, Cage hasn’t exactly been making smart movie choices lately, and I don’t think this small role is his comeback by a long shot. There’s no room for him in this race anyway. He was last nominated in 2002 for “Adaptation,” a huge indie hit, and didn’t even manage a Golden Globe nomination for “Matchstick Men” the following year.

The Blind Side
Sandra Bullock has never been nominated for an Oscar. She has two Golden Globe nominations to her name, for “While You Were Sleeping” and “Miss Congeniality,” for her signature romantic comedy roles. Bullock could be a double nominee at the Golden Globes this year for this film and her familiar turn in “The Proposal.” Some suggest that her dramatic role in the heartwarming movie might be her chance to break through, but I think that lukewarm reviews and a whole host of more deserving contenders will prevent her from doing that this year. Also, “All About Steve” really does not work in her favor.

Home (Switzerland) and Planet 51 are both submitted in the Best Foreign Film and Best Animated Feature categories, respectively, but they’re well behind a number of other contenders in terms of buzz and chances.

Independent releases Mammoth, The Missing Person, Fix, and Ninja Assassin are not going to get any Oscar nominations this year. Two other wide releases, Twilight: New Moon and Old Dogs, no matter how much money they rake in at the box office, are also not going to earn Oscar attention either.

There are only a couple of weeks in the year left! Come back every Wednesday for an analysis of the previous Friday’s theatrical releases and their Oscar chances. Thanks for reading!

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