Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wednesday Oscar Watch

Welcome to a weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Watch with Abe. At this point, 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. Additionally, I’ll be recapping any awards-related developments and announcements from the past week. Chime in with your thoughts on the Oscar chances for these films in the comments section.

Films released December 3, 2010

Black Swan
Lead actress Natalie Portman is a lock for Best Actress, and most agree that she’ll go head to head with Annette Bening for the win. Beyond that, things are more unclear. Supporting actresses Barbara Hershey (veteran) and Mila Kunis (breakout) could each have a shot if the category opens up. The film’s cinematography, art direction, and film editing may be honored (in that order of likelihood). As far as the top categories, the film may be able to place for Best Picture, and Darren Aronofsky might score a Best Director nod as well.

Barney’s Version
This film is in the midst of a one-week Academy run at the City Cinemas 123 in NYC and will be released more widely in January. It’s a decent Golden Globes contender, but I think Best Actor is way too crowded for Paul Giamatti. Dustin Hoffman will have to garner buzz for Best Supporting Actor, and I’d hope that any votes for Rosamund Pike are for “Made in Dagenham” instead. If anything, the film will place in Best Adapted Screenplay.

I Love You Phillip Morris
This wild Jim Carrey movie certainly isn’t going to be the one to earn him his first Oscar nomination if “The Truman Show,” “Man on the Moon,” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” couldn’t. Maybe if the film had actually come out a couple of years ago.

Awards Happenings

Last week we got the Independent Spirit and Satellite nominations. This week we have two other lists, one from the Annie Awards and the other from the Washington DC Film Critics group. They’re both interestingly informative.

For our purposes, the Annie Award nominations for Best Animated Feature are:
Despicable Me
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

That’s likely the list that would make it into the corresponding Oscar category, though that will likely only have three nominees. Pixar and Disney discontent with the way the Annies work led them not to submit “Tangled” and “Toy Story 3” for consideration, and their inclusion nonetheless speaks to their strengths as films. If I had to guess, I’d say “How to Train Your Dragon” edges out “The Illusionist” and joins the above mentioned films.

While the DC Film Critics aren’t necessarily overly important, they, unlike the Satellites, give us a look at what categories with exactly five nominees might look like, as well as winners in each category.

Best Film
Black Swan
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3

What’s interesting about this list is that “Black Swan” wouldn’t necessarily be considered a lock for Best Picture, while the other four are all set. The major snub here is “The King’s Speech,” which still managed to score a screenplay mention and three acting nods.

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
Christopher Nolan (Inception)
Danny Boyle (127 Hours)
David Fincher (The Social Network)
Ethan & Joel Coen (True Grit)

Again, only surprise here is that Tom Hooper is missing for “The King’s Speech,” making room for both Aronofsky and the Coen brothers, whereas they’ll likely both be vying for that last slot at the Oscars.

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges (True Grit)
Robert Duvall (Get Low)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
James Franco (127 Hours)

A decently expected list, leaving out Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter), whose film won two supporting trophies but couldn’t even get him nominated, Javier Bardem (Biutiful), and Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine) to make way for what could very well be our final five.

Best Actress
Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
Anne Hathaway (Love & Other Drugs)
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)

The surprise inclusion here is Hathaway, who bumps both Lesley Manville (Another Year) and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine), to grab the last slot, also over Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right). This win is a big deal for Lawrence, and I’m starting to think that she could win as a result of a vote split between Bening and Portman.

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale (The Fighter)
Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Sam Rockwell (Conviction)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)

John Hawkes! His inclusion is pretty exciting, and I’m really hopeful he can pull it off at the Oscars. Good news for Rockwell, who has been left off lists of late, and great news for likely locks Bale, Garfield, and Rush. Who’s notably missing? Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right). I was never completely sold on his chances, so we’ll have to see if he can get Globe and SAG nods.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams (The Fighter)
Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)

At this point, this is probably the likely Oscar list. No mentions for Miranda Richardson or Rosamund Pike in “Made in Dagenham” or supporting matriarchs like Dianne Wiest (Rabbit Hole) or Barbara Hershey (Black Swan). I still have to see both “The Fighter” and “True Grit,” but the other two were great.

Best Adapted Screenplay
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Good list; all have strong Oscar chances.

Best Original Screenplay
Another Year
Black Swan
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech

I’m thrilled to see a win for “Inception” since I worried (and still worry) that many will be too confused and we’ll have another scenario of something like “Gosford Park” beating “Memento” (probably “The King’s Speech”). I’m also fearful that “Another Year” will end relegated to this category only, just like “Happy-Go-Lucky” did. Good news for “Black Swan,” which is hardly guaranteed a nomination in this category.

Best Animated Feature
Despicable Me
How to Train Your Dragon
Toy Story 3

“Megamind” makes it in over “The Illusionist.” A possibility at the Golden Globes as well.

Best Documentary
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
The Tillman Story
Waiting for Superman

All Oscar-eligible. I haven’t seen a single one, sadly, despite having screened over a dozen documentaries this year (“The Lottery” and “Precious Life” are, of course, both eligible but not represented here). I would have said “Waiting for Superman” was the frontrunner, so this win could be indicative of a surge for this highly praised doc from the summer.

Best Foreign Language Film
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
I Am Love
White Material

I’ve seen all five of these, and they’re all terrific. Only one, however, is eligible for the Oscars, and that’s our winner, which is a good bet to score an Oscar nod.

Best Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland
Black Swan
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I
True Grit

Nothing much to say this technical category is sort of on its own here and incorporates expected films.

Best Cinematography
Black Swan
127 Hours
The Social Network
True Grit

Sensible, strong nominees. I don’t see why any of them wouldn’t make it onto Oscar’s list.

Best Score
Black Swan
127 Hours
The Social Network
True Grit

The exact same list as Best Cinematography and Best Director. The Oscars will likely be more inventive and include some other films.

Best Acting Ensemble
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The Social Network
The Town

What’s the deal with all this love for “The Town”? I’m starting to think it could seriously contend at the SAG Awards and end up leading into a Best Picture nomination. Otherwise, good news for both “The Fighter” and “The Kids Are All Right,” especially in the absence of Wahlberg and both Moore and Ruffalo, respectively.

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