Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wednesday Oscar Watch (Final 2010 Edition)

Welcome to a weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Watch with Abe. This will be the final 2010 edition of the Wednesday Oscar Watch, where I’ll be looking at the awards chances for the films released over the past two weeks and recapping important awards-related happenings. Further awards developments will be covered via category-specific Oscar predictions, Golden Globe winner predictions, and SAG winner predictions.

Films released December 22-31, 2010

True Grit
After being shut out with zero nominations at the Golden Globes, the latest Coen brothers film rebounded with SAG nominations for two of its players and a PGA nod, not to mention a healthy amount of critic attention. Its Best Picture placement is highly likely, with Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Hailee Steinfeld), Best Actor (Jeff Bridges), and Best Director (Joel & Ethan Coen) following, in order of descending likelihood. All have a good shot, and so does the film’s cinematography. The film should also pop up in Best Art Direction and Best Film Editing, and maybe Best Costume Design or the sound categories.

Blue Valentine
Despite initially having an NC-17 rating, this film has earned high praise and plenty of attention for its stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Their Golden Globe nominations are a good sign, and their SAG snubs aren’t. Their categories are extremely competitive, and they’ll have to oust other contenders to make it in. I have a hard time believing that one of them could make it in and not the other, though it is possible. Best Original Screenplay may be a better bet, but that’s not set in stone either.

Another Year
Things aren’t looking good for Mike Leigh’s superb film. The director has earned Oscar nods for four out of his last six projects, including one Best Picture bid and two Best Director nominations. Earlier on in Oscar season, this might have been a frontrunner, but it’s been so consistently left off pretty much everywhere. I’m still pulling for the mesmerizing Lesley Manville to manage a Best Actress placement, though the film may mirror Leigh’s last effort, “Happy-Go-Lucky,” and end up with just a Best Original Screenplay nomination. Further outside the realm of likely possibility are nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Ruth Sheen), and Best Supporting Actor (Jim Broadbent).

Though nothing is ever guaranteed in the Best Foreign Film race, this film has a pretty terrific shot. Lead actor Javier Bardem, on the other hand, will have a much more difficult time given the level of competition in the Best Actor race and the fact that he hasn’t really placed anywhere.

The Illusionist
Sylvain Chomet’s quiet animated film would be a surefire nominee if the Best Animated Feature field was five-wide, but with only three, its chances are iffier. It could also contend in the music categories, for Best Original Score or Best Original Song.

Sofia Coppola hit it big with her second film “Lost in Translation,” earning a Best Picture nomination and a Best Original Screenplay win. While her newest project deserves much, it probably won’t earn anything. Best Original Screenplay is highly unlikely for such an artsy film with little dialogue, and Best Cinematography is sadly probably out of the question too.

Awards Happenings

Nothing terribly interesting or original from Central Ohio, Phoenix, Utah, Austin, Oklahoma, or the Online Film Critics Association. For a more unconventional list, check out the London Evening Standard Award nominees, which highlight wonderful performances like Eddie Marsan (The Disappearance of Alice Creed) and Kristin Scott Thomas (Leaving), yet inexplicably don’t honor Lesley Manville (Another Year) despite recognizing her film in multiple places. I’d prefer to focus instead on two huge precursors, the Producers Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America.

First, the PGA, which announced Tuesday morning. Their ten nominees for Best Picture are 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, The Town, Toy Story 3, True Grit. What’s missing? Most notably, Winter’s Bone. Compare this to last year, of course, when a wide release, “Star Trek,” was nominated here and then snubbed at the Oscars in favor of indie “A Serious Man.” Could we be looking at the same possibility this time around, where “The Town” gets swapped out for “Winter’s Bone”? Additionally, a film that was thought to be stronger than it was, “Invictus,” was replaced come Oscar time, by an out-of-nowhere crowd-pleaser, “The Blind Side.” The most vulnerable film, which benefits enormously from a placement here, is “127 Hours,” and I’m not sure exactly what that surprise contender could be, though “Shutter Island” could be a good guess. We’ll have to see.

Other PGA categories: for Best Animated Feature, we have only three nominees, Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon, and… Despicable Me. I’m disappointed about “Tangled” being omitted and surprised that it’s not in favor of “The Illusionist.” Last year, “9” was recognized here, only to be replaced by “The Secret of Kells” come Oscar time. I still think “Despicable Me” won’t make it all the way, and I really hope “Tangled” does. For Best Documentary, Oscar eligible entries Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, Inside Job, The Tillman Story, and Waiting for Superman are joined by Earth Made of Glass and Smash His Camera (yay!). The former four plus “Exit through the Gift Shop” or “Restrepo” could very well be the Oscar lineup.

Next, the WGA nominations. Let’s first look at Best Original Screenplay. Nominated we have Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, and Please Give. Anyone could have told you those first four, and my eyes lit up with excitement when I saw the last one, a much-deserved and just as unexpected mention for the lovely Nicole Holefcener. Ineligible for this award, of course, we have certain Oscar nominee “The King’s Speech” and strong contenders “Blue Valentine” and “Another Year.” Last year, WGA nominees “Avatar,” “500 Days of Summer,” and “The Hangover” were replaced on the Oscar ballot by “Inglourious Basterds,” “The Messenger,” and “Up.” The year before that, only one film – “Milk” – was nominated for (and won) both. Therefore we’re looking at a pretty competitive category and a pretty low chance for “Please Give” to repeat at the Oscars.

Best Adapted Screenplay: we have again four expected nominees and one huge shocker. 127 Hours, The Social Network, The Town, True Grit, and… I Love You Phillip Morris. The long-delayed Jim Carrey comedy didn’t make much of a splash when it was finally released, and therefore its placement here is puzzling. It will surely make way for WGA-ineligible “Winter’s Bone” and “Toy Story 3,” meaning one other nominee here will likely not make it the Oscar list (and also watch out for potential spoilers like WGA-ineligible films “The Ghost Writer” and “How to Train Your Dragon”). The disconnect last year was the same as the original screenplay race, with “Crazy Heart,” “Julie & Julia,” and “Star Trek” being swapped out come Oscar time for “District 9,” “An Education,” and “In the Loop.” Unlike the original screenplay race, however, 2008 matched up four for five, though it seems likely that both “Winter’s Bone” and “Toy Story 3” will make their mark, presumably ousting one of the two films vying for that last Best Picture slot: “127 Hours” and “The Town.” The big snub, of course, is “Rabbit Hole,” which was eligible and should still be able to rally to receive a nomination on Oscar nominations morning.

The Art Directors Guild announced its nominations this week as well. They divide their honorees up into three categories: Period Film (Get Low, The King's Speech, Robin Hood, Shutter Island, and True Grit), Fantasy Film (Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Happy Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1, Inception, and Tron: Legacy), and Contemporary Film (Black Swan, The Fighter, 127 Hours, The Social Network, The Town). Whittle that down to five nominees, please. Last year, only fantasy and period winners "Avatar" and "Sherlock Holmes" went on to be nominated for Oscars. Here, we're missing "Burlesque" and "Made in Dagenham," most notably. Who will make the eventual Oscar cut? Thoughts in my predictions on the category, coming soon.

Thanks for reading this year’s Wednesday Oscar Watch series. Fear not, though the series is over, Movies With Abe will be inundated with Oscar fever over the next few weeks.

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