AND THE RACE SLOWS: The Golden Globes and SAG Nomination and the Oscars

The Golden Globes is perhaps the most influential of all the pre-award awards if for no other reason that everyone keeps saying they are, which means it must be true. And overall, there has been a lot of similarity between the Globes and AMPASS, at least when it comes to nominations. What keeps things interesting is that there is often profound disagreement between the two, often hysterically so. But the Globes do give Oscar voters a lot to think about, if nothing else.

The day after the Globes, SAG announced their nominees and the two together suggest some interesting possibilities. Also, remember that the voting pool for SAG (which includes television performers) is not the same as the Academy, so that nominations are similar, but almost never the same.

The Globes, of course, have ten nominations, five for drama, five for the somewhat vaguer musical/comedy. The list for comedy should probably not be lingered over, it’s not the most impressive set of nominees the Globe has come up with before (Burlesque? The Tourist?). Suffice it to say that The Kids Are All Right will probably win and will be the only one of the five to make the Academy’s top ten. As for the top five in the dramatic category, all should make the Oscar list. There are no real surprises here and the influence on Academy voters should be negligible.

SAG doesn’t have a Best Picture category per se. They do have a Best Ensemble category, which is the next best thing—unless you are a movie like Inception, whose fairly bland characters that the actors couldn’t do a whole lot with can get in the way of a nomination here. In fact, the only difference between SAG’s list and the Globe’s dramatic category is that The Kids Are All Right made it, while Inception didn’t. So, again, like the Globes, SAG’s influence is pretty negligible.

As for acting, this does get a bit more interesting. The Globes, of course, have two categories and ten nominations, while the Oscars still only have five. The most interesting entry here are the nominations for Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine. When I read this, I wondered if the two could upset the Oscar apple cart. But since neither got a SAG nomination, I think only Williams could do any damage by possibly ousting Nicole Kidman for the Rabbit Hole. The reason I say this is that Diane Wiest did not get a Supporting Actress nom from either the Globes or SAG for …Rabbit Hole and I’m beginning to wonder whether this is a reflection of the voters’ waning interest in that film overall. Also Leslie Manville (for Another Year) isn’t getting much love lately either. However, none of these films have opened yet, so who knows what will happen at the last minute; but I think the …Rabbit… might be dying. Hallie Berry got a Globe nom for Frankie and Alice, and even though there is a push for her to make the Academy cut, it’s unlikely. Tilda Swinton’s chances for I Am Love seem more and more distant.

Gosling’s main hope now is that fifth spot that no one is sure about. Jeff Bridges didn’t get a True Grit Globe nomination (for some odd reason), but he will an Oscar nom, and Gosling won’t dislodge that. But Gosling could edge out Javier Bardem, the favorite as of now, for Biutiful, or Robert Duvall, who got the SAG nom for Get Low. I don’t think Duvall’s showing at the SAG’s will help come Oscar time and, like the other films mentioned, Biutiful hasn’t opened yet. Mark Wahlberg got a Globe nom for The Fighter, but I don’t think that will translate into a Best Actor nom; it might, if the Fighter bandwagon really takes off, but I think Gosling or Bardem will be nominated before he is.

The Globe’s Supporting Actor noms should reflect the Academy with one exception: Michael Douglas for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. He has a chance for an Oscar nom, but that means he would have to knock out either Jeremy Renner for The Town or Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right. But Renner and Ruffalo’s SAG nominations suggest that is now highly unlikely. Surprisingly, the SAGs didn’t nominate Andrew Garfield for the Social Network, going instead for John Hawkes for Winter’s Bone (in fact, except for The King’s Speech, the SAGs’ seem oddly to avoid English actors like the plague). Though Hawkes is a worthy nominee and there is a sudden, late movement to get him a nom, he, like Douglas, would have to oust Renner or Ruffalo, and that is unlikely. Andrew Garfield is pretty much a lock, no matter what the SAG’s say.

Supporting Actress, though, is getting more interesting. For some reason, and insanity could be the only defense, Jacki Weaver didn’t get a SAG nom for the Animal Kingdom. What the fuck? However, Amy Adams for the Fighter and Milas Kunis for The Black Swan did. They both also got Globe nominations (Weaver got a Globe nom). As was said, this is bad news for Dianne Weist. It might also be bad news for Hallie Stenfield. If both Adams and Kunis get noms, someone’s got to go besides Weist (Weaver, Helena Bonham-Carter for The King’s Speech, and Melissa Leo for the Fighter are pretty much locks), and Stenfield is the most vulnerable.

The most interesting aspect of the Globe directing nominations is David O. Russell for the Fighter, knocking out both David Boyle for 127 Hours and Lisa Cholodonka for The Kids Are All Right. The Fighter seems to be coming along strong and perhaps Russell could sneak in.

The Illusionist is one of the five nominated animated films at the Globes, helping give it momentum to make the third movie in the same Oscar category.

Things will now slow down a bit, though other awards and top ten lists will continue appearing.

THE CRITICS PART DUEX: The Los Angeles Film Critics Weigh In

The most interesting of the awards came out this week, not because they necessarily show the best judgment, but because their taste and mine are so close this year (okay, so maybe that means they are showing the best judgment). I’m talking about the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The LAFCA probably has more influence than any other critics group (outside the Golden Globes) on the Oscars, mainly because they are in Los Angeles, so they are probably the most difficult for voters to avoid.

Best Picture is The Social Network, which should put a number of contractors to work building shelves to hold all the awards it is getting. Interesting, though, is Carlos coming in second. Not eligible for the Oscars because it was made for TV, it is one of the finest films of the year. However, again, The Social Network winning only helps ensure that it gets a nom come Oscar time. The King’s Speech is still going to win. Just deal with it.

Best Actor went to Colin Firth for The King’s Speech adding to his momentum. Second place went to Edgar Ramirez for Carlos, again one of the finest performances of the year, but again, not eligible since it was in a made for TV film. However, joy to me, Kim Hye-Ja won Best Actress for Mother; Hye-Ja will most likely win my personal Best Actress award when I get around to doing the Howies. Runner up is Jennifer Lawrence for Winter’s Bone, which should help her momentum.

Director was a tie between Olivier Assayas for Carlos and David Fincher for The Social Network. Assayas, of course, doesn’t qualify for the Tinseltown award, but this helps Fincher’s momentum. There is an outside chance the Oscar voters could split the Picture/Director award this year and Fincher could win it, but I think it’s going to be Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech, and again, just deal with it.

Neils Arestrup won Supporting Actor for The Prophet (he was on my list last year). Significantly, though, Geoffrey Rush came in second. Will Rush be able to defeat Christian Bale for The Fighter? I say yes. Jacki Weaver won Supporting Actress for Animal Kingdom, which again helps that momentum thingy. It does seem to suggest the fight at the Oscars will be between Melissa Leo and Weaver; I still believe Leo will win, but Weaver’s awards are making the contest more interesting than usual. Olivia Williams came in second for The Ghost Writer, an unusual choice, and it won’t matter a hoot come nomination time.

Best Screenplay is Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network; second is David Seidler for The King’s Speech. I think that just about sums up the winners in those two Oscar categories this year.

Also of interest, Foreign Language film is Carlos, with my favorite film of the year Mother, coming in second. Since neither were entered by their respective countries, no Oscars. But I love the movies so much, I had to mention that.

Finally, though Toy Story 3 won Best Animated film, The Illusionist received runner up, which may give it the recognition it needs to be third on the ballot.

Next: The Golden Globes

THE CRITICS: The Critics Start to Weigh In on 2010

This week several critic and film organizations released their best of 2010 awards in movies. I will only deal with three here: AFI top ten list; the Los Angeles Film Critics Association; and the New York Film Critics Circle. Others, like the Boston Film Critics, The New York Film Critics On-Line etc., are interesting and make the Oscar guessing game fun, but they have even less influence on the Academy than their bigger siblings do.

Well, sort of, kind of. This isn’t exactly true. It’s not that the LAFCC and NYFCC have no influence at all, it’s just that it’s so hit and miss, that what influence they have has to been garnered by instinct and weighted heavily against what seems to be trending with Academy voters, whom often have very different tastes than the critics, i.e., I don’t care what the critics have to say, The King’s Speech is going to beat out The Social Network when Jack Nicholson or whomever opens that envelope at the end of the show.

Also, there are some technical issues as well on some of these awards, as will be noted.

The AFI was most interesting because the top ten seemed to mirror almost exactly what is expected of the Academy this year: The Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, 127 Hours (someone at AFI needs to learn how to alphabetize—numbers go at the beginning of a list), The Social Network, The Town, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter’s Bone.

Notice what is missing? That’s right, The King’s Speech. However, AFI only awards films substantially made in America, which means The King’s Speech was ineligible (though, significantly, it did receive a special award). However, since the King’s Speech is supposed to not just only make the Academy top ten, it’s supposed to take home the top honor, the question is, which of the AFIers will be left behind? I predict The Town will not make the Academy cut.

Next is the New York Film Critics Circle, which according to an inside story, was a knock down drag out between The Social Network and The Kids Are All Right (see Though The Social Network won Picture and Director, it did not win screenplay—which, because of some manipulation of the voting (all perfectly within the rules), went to The Kids Are All Right. The same manipulation apparently got Marc Ruffalo Supporting Actor over Christian Bale for The Fighter. All this really means, though, is that The Kids Are All Right should be a lock for numerous top noms. Annette Benning’s award for Actress won’t hurt her chances for winning the Oscar (apparently The Black Swan left a few too many critics a bit cold). Also significant is Melissa Leo winning for Supporting Actress. Jacki Weaver has been doing well with her performance with other awards, but since she’s Australian in an Australian film, this may help Leo’s chances with the Academy.

Colin Firth won Actor, which should help him pull ahead of Jessie Eisenberg, who, with the critical awards, has taken James Franco’s place as Firth’s biggest threat. However, like Franco, it is doubtful the Academy is going to give it to a newcomer like Eisenberg, especially when they have to apologize to Firth for not giving the award to him last year for A Single Man.

Also of interest: Carlos won Foreign Language Film. However, Carlos was made for TV and is ineligible for the Oscars (and wasn’t Spain or France’s entry in the Foreign Language category). The Illusionist, the animated film from the makers of The Triplets of Bellville and based on a screenplay by Jacques Tati, won best Animated Film, which could help it make the third slot at the Oscars with Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon. Animal Kingdom received an award for Best First Film. If Animal Kingdom keeps getting recognitions like this, it will be interesting to see if it can somehow manage an upset and make the Academy’s top ten (but what could it possible replace—127 Hours if the bloom of its rosy red cheeks wears off, or True Grit if it bombs at the box office?

Next the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards.

THE WOMEN: Predictions for Academy Award nominations and awards: Actress and Supporting Actress

As is the case for most of the categories, most of the noms have pretty much already been determined and there’s little that can be done to stop the runaway train, outside one of the potentials being arrested as a child murderer. Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Natalie Portman (The Black Swan) and Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) are in with the in crowd, Lawrence especially after her award for Breakthrough Performance from the National Board of Review. However, the fight for who will actually win is between Bening and Portman. I believe the award will go to Bening, because, as the cliché has it, it’s her time. Portman has many supporters, but she’s still new to the whole awards thingy and I believe the Academy will want to make her earn a few more dues before giving her a statuette.

The final two spots are a bit up for grabs. Nicole Kidman will probably be number four for the Rabbit Hole, the best and most interesting work she’s done in some time, even if the movie is just an excellent okay picture. The only hesitation here is that the movie has yet to open, plus an additional caveat listed below.

As for the last spot, it’s between Leslie Manville for Another Year and Tilda Swinton for I Am Love. I believe that most people have now forgotten about I Am Love, which means that if the Academy is looking for another art house nominee to add to Lawrence’s nom, they will probably go for Manville, a movie that hasn’t opened yet. Manville won the National Board of Review, which can’t hurt, and Mike Leigh, who directed the film, has a pretty good track record in getting his actors nominations. Which means, poor Tilda Swinton. I’m not sure why Swinton is being so overlooked. She won an Oscar, for God’s sake, yet she can’t get no respect for Julia last year, and this year, it looks like it’s a no go for I Am Love. It probably didn’t help that her movie wasn’t the Italian entry in the foreign language category. It would probably also help if her movies were released later in the year. What may make the final determination here is the end of year critics’ awards, which might turn the tide in someone’s favor.

Julianne Moore is also in the “can’t get no respect” situation as well. Last year she was overlooked for a nom for A Single Man for some ungodly reason. This year, she may be left out in the cold for The Kids Are All Right. There’s some talk of pushing her for Supporting Actress, which may be her only hope. Sally Hawkins has a chance of getting an apology nomination for Made in Dagenham after not getting a slot for Happy-Go-Lucky, but though some people like her latest film, it’s not really getting the buzz. The same for Anne Hathaway in Love and Other Drugs; no one seems to really hate it, but no one is responding to it either. I think most people have forgotten that Secretariat has come out, which probably dooms Diane Lane (one of our most underrated actresses). Blue Valentine hasn’t opened yet, so it’s hard to say how Michelle Williams will do. She’s done an incredible job of making everyone forget she was ever in Dawson’s Creek, but I’m getting the feeling her chances will be hurt by the “do I really have to see one more film for Oscar consideration, and such a downer one at that” situation. At the same time, Weinstein is distributing the movie, and it’s never good to count a Weinstein movie out of the running. Noomi Rapace is also being touted for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but she seems to be getting lost in the shuffle; what actually may not have helped is the releasing of all three movies in one year—voters may wonder which one they’re supposed to nominate her for or even forget that the first one was even released this year.

However, there is one possibility of a huge monkey wrench: Helen Mirren in the Tempest. She’s liked; she’s playing a part written for a man (and written by Shakespeare); and it’s the sort of part that, if it takes movie goers by storm, could get her a last minute nomination. If it happens, this may spell doom for Nicole Kidman.

At this point, the Supporting Actress is the most suspense filled because there is no clear front runner. The most definite nominees as of now are Helena Bonham Carter (a lot of fun in The King’s Speech); Melissa Leo (for The Fighter, which hasn’t opened yet); Diane Weist (wonderful, simply wonderful, in the Rabbit Hole); and finally Jacki Weaver, who seems a sure shot at a nom because of her National Board of Review win for The Animal Kingdom. My friend Jerry in Chicago thinks it will go to Bonham Carter who will be swept up in the wins for The King’s Speech and because some might consider it her time. I’m going to go for Melissa Leo because I think the Academy has been dying to give her an award ever since Frozen River and since she is a character actress and not a lead, there may not be enough possibilities in the future; it may be now or never. Though Diane Weist is very moving in Rabbit Hole, the nom is all she’ll get. And as for Jacki Weaver, who quite possibly deserves it, well, let’s face it, it’s an Australian Film, and the Academy is loath to give an acting award, especially a supporting one, to a film made outside of the U.S., unless it’s England (the Commonwealth doesn’t count).

For the fifth nomination, many names are being tossed about, but the two who have the greatest chance are Julianne Moore for The Kids Are All Right, if she is pushed for the position, and Hailee Steinfeld, for the unreleased True Grit. Right now, I’d say Steinfeld has the momentum, but it does depend on who well received the movie is.

THE PLOT COAGULATES: The National Board of Review Awards and the Oscars 2010

The National Board of Review Awards came out, which means that the race for the Oscar has officially begun (the NBR is the New Hampshire of the Academy). This also means I’ll postpone my column on the Best Actress race just a tad to analyze what the NBR awards mean.

Actually, they don’t mean an awful lot. The NBR and the Oscars sometimes agree (No Country for Old Men; Slumdog Millionare) and sometimes don’t (The Hurt Locker when NBR chose Up in the Air). The NBR is actually seen as a bit more mainstream, being conservative in their awards (like the Republican center right), which makes it surprising they chose The Social Network over The King’s Speech. That could suggest some sort of zeitgeist change in what people who give awards look for in movies, but it just as probably doesn’t.

I still think The King’s Speech will win Best Picture and Colin Firth Actor (over NBR’s choice of Jessi Eisenberg for The Social Network), if for no other reason than that the Weinsteins don’t mean a hoot to the NBR. Actress should still go to Annette Bening (over NBR’s Leslie Manville for Another Year). At the same time, the honors here for Manville and Eisenberg do help them gain a firm foundation for a nomination, so it is significant in that way. This also supports David Fincher being one of the five directing nominees that will have to be culled from the top ten titles come Academy Award voting time.

However, there are two awards that, gremlin like, could be throwing a monkey wrench into the proceedings. Best Supporting Actor went to Christian Bale for The Fighter. Bale is considered Geoffrey Rush’s main rival for the win and this will only keep Bale (a popular actor within the industry, even if he has a reputation for being difficult) in the mind’s eye. Best Supporting Actress is totally up in the air right now; NBR gave it (possibly very deservedly) to Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom. I don’t think this will move Taylor any closer to winning; it just keeps the Supporting Actress waters very muddy.

Also significant is that The Social Network won best Adapted Screenplay. I wasn’t sure whether Aaron Sorkin’s script was considered original or adapted. Since it’s adapted, David Seidler, who wrote The King’s Speech, can start rehearsing what he’s going to say Oscar night when he wins for Original Screenplay since Sorkin was his main, if only, rival. The award for Original Screenplay went to Chris Sparling for Buried, which may help jump start his campaign for a nom, but I can’t see it winning over The King’s Speech.

Best Foreign Language film went to Of Gods and Men from France. The winner of this award for the Oscars can often be determined solely by the subject matter of the film. Of Gods and Men is about conflict between a Catholic Order and Fundamentalists: sounds like a winner to me.

The Town got an award for Best Ensemble which could help Jeremy Renner’s chances for a Supporting Actor nom. Jennifer Lawrence got the Breakthrough Performance award which should help cement her nom for Best Actress.

And, of course, what’s very interesting here is what didn’t make the top ten lists. The Black Swan, 127 Hours and The Kids Are All Right, all considered shoe ins for nominations, were conspicuous by their absence.

Isn’t this fun.