Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday Oscar Watch

Welcome to a seasonal 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. Additionally, to make up for lost time, I’ll also be taking a look at the films released earlier in the year, one month at a time. Chime in with your thoughts on the Oscar chances for these films in the comments section. Also, if I’ve missed any films from the previous months, please say so!

Films released November 16th-23rd, 2012

Anna Karenina
This period British epic has all the makings of an Oscar hit, including the third reteaming of director Joe Wright and star Keira Knightley, whose previous features, “Pride and Prejudice” and “Atonement,” have both met with Oscar success. Knightley has plenty of competition in the Best Actress race but may prevail, and the film is likely to do well in the technical categories, namely Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction, and Best Original Score. Best Cinematography and Best Makeup are possible too, and a Best Picture nomination isn’t totally out of the question either.

The Central Park Five
This serious documentary about wrongly convicted rape suspects is a frontrunner for the Best Documentary race, and though that category has left out assumed locks the past few years, it should follow in the footsteps of last year’s similarly-themed and ultimately-nominated “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory.”

Life of Pi
This visual experience has extraordinary Oscar potential, thanks in no small part to its source material and to its director, Oscar favorite Ang Lee, whose previous two features, “Taking Woodstock” and “Lust, Caution,” didn’t really take. He has his best shot at another Oscar since his last nomination – and win – for “Brokeback Mountain,” and a return to the East should help him considerably. Best Director is extremely likely, and Best Picture shouldn’t be much of a stretch with a widened field. Best Cinematography is the film’s surest get, and Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Sound, and Best Sound Editing, and Best Visual Effects are all strong possibilities too.

Rise of the Guardians
This inventive animated film stands a good chance to crack the Best Animated Feature race, but its reviews were hardly as positive as a handful of other contenders in the category. Quality doesn’t always equal Oscar, but the movie does have to be well-liked.

Rust and Bone
This Cannes entry from Jacques Audiard, director of the Oscar-nominated “A Prophet,” wasn’t selected by France to compete in the Best Foreign Film race, but it does stand a chance in the Best Actress race for star Marion Cotillard, who won five years ago for “La Vie en Rose” and has done a tremendous job of making herself known to American audiences, most recently in “The Dark Knight Rises.” Her biggest obstacle will be another French actress, Emmanuelle Riva, who is a frontrunner for Michael Haneke’s “Amour.”

The Silver Linings Playbook
This comedic drama from David O. Russell, nominated in 2010 for “The Fighter,” is this year’s best light-hearted bet for Oscar love. Jennifer Lawrence, also a nominee in 2010, is a likely Best Actress nominee, and Robert De Niro may be nominated for the first time in twenty-one years, in the Best Supporting Actor category. Never-nominated Bradley Cooper and yet another 2010 nominee, Australian actress Jacki Weaver, will have equally difficult times getting nominated in crowded acting races. The film is a lock for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, and Russell should have a good shot too. Best Film Editing is possible, but it’s unlikely to show up in any other technical category.

Films released September 2012

Arbitrage (September 14)
Richard Gere got rave reviews for this fall drama, but he has an uphill battle. He wasn’t nominated in 1982 for “An Officer and a Gentleman” or in 1990 for “Pretty Woman” despite Golden Globe mentions and Oscar wins for other cast members, and winning a Golden Globe for eventual Best Picture winner “Chicago” couldn’t even get him nominated in 2002. Can this small film finally get the 63-year-old an Oscar nomination after almost forty years in the business? I’m not convinced that it can.

The Master (September 14)
This film about a Scientology-like religion has earned raves for lead actor Joaquin Phoenix and supporting actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, both of whom stand a good chance of being nominated, as well as supporting actress Amy Adams, who may be too. Director Paul Thomas Anderson was a nominee in 2007 for “There Will Be Blood,” and he might be back this year. Best Original Screenplay is a solid bet, while Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, and Best Art Direction may prove more elusive.

Trouble with the Curve (September 21)
Clint Eastwood hasn’t had a true Oscar hit since “Letters from Iwo Jima” in 2006, with a few acting nominations only since then. This isn’t likely to be his year, as a result both of lackluster reviews and of Eastwood’s performance at the Republican National Convention. He’s traditionally been an Oscar favorite, but I think voters are pretty much done with him now.

Looper (September 28)
This sci-fi success has a shot, if not a strong one, at the three genre-friendly technical categories, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound, and Best Sound Editing. It will just have to depend on what kind of fare they feel like recognizing in those races.

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