AND THEY’RE HEADING FOR THE FINISH LINE: The BAFTAs and the WGA announce their winners


The BAFTAs and WGA Awards have come and gone so now it’s pretty much over but the waiting. It’s not unusual for the BAFTAs to match up with the Oscars (they gave the best actress award to Marion Cotillard, for example, when many, including moi, expected it to be Julie Christie), even though the voting bloc only partially overlaps. I think this year, their awarding Best Picture, Director and Screenplay to The Hurt Locker pretty much seals the deal for Bigelow and company. However, I think Best Actor will not go to Colin Firth (as it did at the BAFTAs, though common wisdom had it that Firth was going to win the Oscar until Crazy Heart was rushed to an earlier release), but to Jeff Bridges. And Carey Mulligan will also not win Best Actress (as she did at the BAFTAs). That should still go to Sandra Bullock (who wasn’t nominated for a BAFTA; The Blind Side hasn’t opened in England); even if it didn’t go to Bullock, the Oscar would probably go to Meryl Streep.

The WGA awards went to the expected winners of the Oscars: The Hurt Locker for original screenplay and Up in the Air for adapted. It is true that some screenplays nominated for Oscars, like Inglorious Basterds and In the Loop, weren’t eligible for WGA awards. But The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air were the expected winners long before the WGA nominations were even announced. The Hurt Locker should now win Best Picture and Director, which means it should win the screenplay award as well. Up in the Air, which for some time was expected to win Best Picture until it peaked too early, should get the adapted screenplay as the consolation prize.

AND THEY ROUND ANOTHER CORNER: NSCF and the Oscars


I am behind in my entries on the Awards race. The National Society of Film Critics came out last week and I haven’t commented on it yet. The NSFC awards are my favorite. They are the most eccentric and esoteric and the group usually make the best decisions, or closest to the best, when it comes to the best of the year. But their impact on the Academy Award nominations are usually pretty nil.

They went along with many major award groups and gave The Hurt Locker best of the year along with best actor and director. The Hurt Locker is expected to get a best picture and director nom as it is. However, the win for Jeremy Renner can’t hurt. It will keep reminding people about his performance as they read those Please Consider… ads. The best actress went to Yolando Moreau for Seraphine. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to conceive she will receive a best actress nomination though she, along with Tilda Swinton for Julia who also won’t get a nom, gave the best performances of the year. Best supporting actor and actress went to the usual suspects: Christophe Waltz and Mo’Nique, both of whom are suppose to win the Oscars. The interesting thing here is that Waltz tied with Paul Schneider who gave a great performance in Bright Star. But supporting actor is a tight race and it’s unlikely this will help Schneider make the list.

It does look like I’ll have to remove Nine from my list of possible contenders. It just seems to do nothing but lose buzz. I will now replace it with An Education. Emily Blunt is getting good reviews for Young Victoria, but the buzz isn’t there so I will replace her with Sandra Bullock for the Blind Side. I will add Jeremy Renner to my best actor list. Everything else stays the way it is as of now.

WILL NINE OR HURT LOCKER WIN, PLACE OR SHOW?


The Envelope had an interesting article on whether box office affects a picture’s chances of winning. They focus on The Hurt Locker (which is doing okay, but is more a critic’s darling so far) and Nine (which is not doing well, at least in smaller locales). The premise in the article is a bit off, though, for the Hurt Locker. It was never that likely that Hurt Locker would win best picture, but only be nominated, and it’s not because of box office. I do think the Academy members are looking for something a little lighter this year (Up in the Air). The Hurt Locker will be nominated, which shouldn’t be hurt by it’s box office. Nine is something else. No one really expected The Hurt Locker to be a blockbuster at the box office, but people did for Nine and so it’s poor showing could have an effect on voters. At the same time, this is a Weinstein property and never count out the Weinsteins. If the general public isn’t spending a lot of money on it, but the Academy viewers like it when they see it, it could still get nominations. And the Weinsteins are brilliant at getting people to see their films (rumor has it that if you are in a retreat in the Himalayas, they will hunt you down and show you the film). So, Nine still has a chance, but it is getting a bit dimmer.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/season/2009/12/from-avatar-to-nine-can-boxoffice-affect-oscar-chances-by-pete-hammond.html

AND THE RACE IS STILL ON FOR THE OSCARS


Below is an excellent little article from movieline.com on what may be the most vulnerable of the potential best picture nominees. I agree with his analysis except that I think it’s a pretty gone conclusion, even before now, that The Last Station and The Lovely Bones weren’t going to make it. Invictus is a hard call because everybody seems to buy into the myth that Eastwood always gets a nomination when in actuality he doesn’t. The list doesn’t include Up, which is vulnerable if people decide to only nominate it in the animation category. Nine is a hard call because I suspect that when an audience sees it, they like it; the problem is that they’re having a hard time getting an audience to see it; but that’s what screeners are for. In addition, I think Weinstein is part of this and the lesson is never count Weinstein out.

http://www.movieline.com/2009/12/the-5-most-vulnerable-best-picture-candidates.php?page=all

AND WE’RE HEADED FOR THE FIRST STRETCH: My preliminary guesses as to who will get Academy Award noms


The Golden Globe and SAG nominations have been released, which is the strongest indication of what films and actors are going to be nominated for Academy Awards. The Golden Globe gave even more impetus to Nine and Avatar, but just how well that will translate to Oscar nominations can’t be truly gauged until they open this week in L.A. SAG gave some leg up to Sandra Bullock (the Blind Side), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones, he also got a Golden Globe nom) and Matt Damon (supporting for Invictus).

It should be noted that The Hurt Locker has reopened at the Vista in L.A. and the Road has reopened at the Nuart. Since …Locker is bound to get nominations as it is for picture, director and screenplay, the main beneficiary of this would be Jeremy Renner who is trying to get a best actor nomination. The Road just never really connected with the industry, so it’s hard to say whether this reopening will help it much. But it is being distributed by The Weinstein Company and one should never count them out. It should also be noted that this strategy was also tried for Bad Lieutenant and Bright Star, but I don’t think it’s going to help Nicholas Cage or the actors from Bright Star get noms.

Below is my present guess as to the nominations with ruminations. This list will change as movies open and buzz rises or dies.

Best Motion Picture

Avatar

District 9

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

Julie & Julia

Nine

Precious

A Single Man

Up

Up in the Air

The doubtful ones right now are District 9 (since Avatar is also science fiction); Julie & Julia (which may get replaced by It’s Complicated); Nine (which may sink once it opens); Up (which may be done in by voters only putting it in the animation category, added to the fact that two other well received animated films opened, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Princess and the Frog, with The Princess… possibly pulling an upset and winning best animation). Some that may sneak in are The Messenger, A Serious Man, An Education, Star Trek (though the last is doubtful). Up in the Air is expected to win.



Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture



Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria

Helen Mirren, The Last Station

Carey Mulligan, An Education

Gabourey Sidibe, Precious

Meryl Streep, Julie and Julia

The most precarious here is Emily Blunt whose film is not opening with a lot of fanfare. This may mean that Marianne Cotillard may sneak in for Nine, even though she only has a supporting role. And of course, there’s Sandra Bullock who is really gathering steam (she got a SAG nom). Meryl Streep is expected to win.


Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture



Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

George Clooney, Up in the Air

Colin Firth, A Single Man

Morgan Freeman, Invictus

The fifth entry is the hardest to decide this year. But it should be among the following, Daniel Day-Lewis, Nine; Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man; Matt Damon, The Informant!, with Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker possibly being the one if The Hurt Locker can work up a little more steam. It looks like Nicholas Cage is out of it.


Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture



Marion Cotillard, Nine

Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air

Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air

Mo’Nique, Precious

Julianne Moore, A Single Man

If Marion Cotillard does get a best actress nomination, then Penelope Cruz could get in for Nine. Mo’Nique is suppose to walk away with it.



Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Pictur



Woody Harrelson, The Messenger

Christian Mckay, Me and Orson Welles

Alfred Molina, An Education

Christopher Plummer, The Last Station

Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

This is the expected list, but don’t be surprised in Alfred Molina or even Christian McKay are knocked out for Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones or Matt Damon, Invictus. Though this category often goes for a career award (which would mean Christopher Plummer), Christoph Waltz is suppose to walk away with it.



Best Animated Feature Film



Coraline

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

The Princess and the Frog

Up

This pretty much seems to be the category. I still think The Princess and the Frog will win.



Best Director – Motion Picture



Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

James Cameron, Avatar

Lee Daniels, Precious

Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Since there are ten movies, this is a hard category to predict. Reitman is expected to win. Lee Daniels might get knocked out for, well, to be honest, I don’t know.



Best Screenplay – Motion Picture – Original



Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker

Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Joel and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man

Harold P. Manning, Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, Tony

Roche, In the Loop

Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, 500 days of summer

A tough category. Too many good, original screenplays. But In the Loop and 500 days could be knocked out for Pete Docter, Bob Petersen, Thomas McCarthy, Up; Alessandro Camon, Oren Moverman, The Messenger; and Nancy Meyers, It’s Complicated (who is popular in L.A.). But if In the Loop can be nominated, it could win. Other than that, since the Hurt Locker won’t win best picture, but is the critics and cult favorite, it might win.


Best Screenplay – Motion Picture – Adapted

Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, District 9

Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

Nick Hornby, An Education

Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious

Tom Ford, David Scearce, A Single Man

I suppose Nine or Julie & Julia might get in here, but this sort of looks like the line up at this point.


This list is subject to change, of course.

THE SUSPENSE MOUNTS: Critics start sounding in on Awards 2009


The second installment of the movie awards season begins with a bunch of critic’s awards. The least important, at least in regards to which films in the U.S. will receive awards, not in overall significance, are the European Film Awards. The main names to take note of here is Haneke’s The White Ribbon which won three awards and Jacques Audiard’s The Prophet which won two. The White Ribbon is Germany’s entry in the foreign film category and The Prophet is France’s. However, the vagaries of the foreign film selection at the Oscars is so much it’s own thing that this may not mean anything except to give these films some extra buzz and give people a reason to complain about the foreign film voting system if neither one is nominated.

Next is the AFI selection of the top ten best films of the year. These are “Coraline,” “The Hangover,” “The Hurt Locker,” “The Messenger,” “Precious,” “A Serious Man,” “A Single Man,” “Sugar,” “Up” and “Up in the Air.” This is a more egalitarian list that one will probably see come Oscar nominations. It is doubtful that Caroline, The Hangover or Sugar will make the Oscar cut (Caroline will only be nominated in animation; The Hangover too lowbrow, Sugar too indie–i.e., most Oscar voters probably haven’t heard of it, much less seen it). This does give energy to nominations for The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air, Precious and Up. The others are possibilities, but still not a lot of buzz. The main movie missing here is Inglorious Basterds, a real surprise.

Then there are the Broadcast Film Critics Award nominations that came out. They have more nominations in each category than the Oscars. My overall analysis is that this helps continue the buzz with Inglorious Basterds and Up in the Air and now also gives buzz for Avatar and Nine, both of which did very well in the various categories. However, I wouldn’t doubt that the BFCA best picture nominations will be close to the Oscars, with the exception of District 9 which didn’t make the Critics Circle, but still has a strong chance. It also has a listing of actors that may also be close to the Oscars (though the Critics here nominated six per category and the Academy only has five). And I still think Julie & Julia will get in.

This leaves what may be the most significant indicator of what is going to be nominated and what isn’t, the LA. Film Critics. Though they are critics and not voters and voters have a habit of not listening that closely to the critics, these ones live in L.A. and probably help with the buzz on certain films. The L.A. Film Critics gave a leg up to The Hurt Locker, awarding it picture and director. The Hurt Locker is probably going to be nominated at the Oscars for those categories, but I still suspect Up in the Air is going to win (and here came in second).

But the Critics really gave a leg up to Jeff Bridges for best actor for Crazy Heart. Colin Firth, who was the favorite to win the Oscar (and who came in runner up here), may now lose out to Bridges in a combination performance of his career combined with a career type award, more often given to male actors than female actors (the only thing that might have helped more is if Bridges had gotten an honorary Oscar the year before). This really is too bad for Firth, a fine actor who doesn’t make many films that get Oscar buzz and this may be his only chance. But Bridges has been nominated four times with no wins.

Best actress went to the more than deserving Yolande Moreau (who may get my award for best actress) for Seraphine. This probably won’t translate into Oscar buzz since like Sugar, this is a film that most voters probably haven’t even heard of. Carey Mulligan came in second, which helps her with a nomination (after the National Board of Review Award), but I’m gong out on a limb right now and agree with Jerry, my best friend in Chicago, who thinks that the Academy will decide it’s been long enough since Meryl Streep’s last win and give her her third Oscar for Julie & Julia.

Supporting awards when to Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique, both of whom right now are expected to win the Oscars. Runners up went to Anna Kendricks, and I’m now convinced she is a strong contender for an Oscar Nomination for Up in the Air, and Peter Capaldi for In the Loop, though like other deserving artists, was in a movie most of the voters probably haven’t even heard of, so there goes his chances.

Also note that Fantastic Mr. Fox beat out Up for animation, though I still have a feeling that the Princess and the Frog is going to take home the Oscar. Just a feeling.

Also noteworthy is that The White Ribbon’s name showed up for the LA Film Critics. This probably doesn’t mean anything. Jerry said that The White Ribbon won’t open in L.A until December 30th, less than a week before the end of the year. I don’t know what this means when it comes to qualifying for Oscars since movies are suppose to play a week in LA or New York (though not necessarily for a nom in foreign language category).

Another note: I read in the LA Times that people who vote for best picture nominations often don’t put down a full list of names (this year, ten), but often only put down one or two, which can skew the nominations. I would think this would skew the noms toward more tent pole, studio films since those are the ones more people see, but that’s not the way it works it seems.

Next to come, New York Film Critics and The Golden Globes.

AND THEY’RE OFF: The 2009 Award Season has started


I’m an award whore, I’m afraid, and the Academy Awards are especially the ones I’ll lift my legs for. Every year I and Jerry, my best friend in Chicago, start predicting what is going to be nominated for the Oscars. I know, I know, I should have more self respect, but I can’t help it. It’s a lot of fun (even though my top ten list almost never has one film from the films nominated for best picture). But I’m not addicted. I’m not. I can stop anytime I want. I just don’t choose to.

Last week the National Board of Review revealed their list of best films and performances, etc. of 2009. For a complete list see http://www.nbrmp.org/awards/. With that, I and Jerry both agreed the award season had officially started.

However, that’s not quite accurate. For me, the season started when I noticed in L.A. that Bad Lieutenant was moved from Grauman’s Chinese to the art house Nuart Theater in Westwood, which I can’t help but think was done to try to reach Oscar voters in order to get nominations, especially for Nicholas Cage. In addition, just down the street from the Nuart, Bright Star has returned to the Royal, another art house (though a bit safer in what it shows). I thought Bright Star had imploded, but it’s back, ostensibly for the same reason as Bad Lieutenant (no, not to get Nicholas Cage a nomination—BS’s best chances are in technical categories like costumes and a possible supporting actor nomination for Paul Schneider, the brightest star in the movie—that was a fairly bad pun, wasn’t it; I should edit it out).

But back to the NBR. Of the top eleven films (the best film of the year Up in the Air and then the top ten), I’ve seen all but Up in the Air and Invictus (…Air just opened and Invictus hasn’t—oh, a note to the NBR: you didn’t alphabetize the list correctly, (500) Days of Summer should come first). Up in the Air now has the strongest buzz for winning the Oscar, but it’s early yet. Of the top five foreign language films, I missed Song of Sparrows (it’s on my Netflix list and Jerry says it’s really good) and The White Ribbon has yet to open. The winner of the best foreign film, The Prophet, also hasn’t opened yet. The best foreign language film nominations are the hardest to predict because of the way they are nominated.

Of the top indie films on the list, I missed Amreeka (it wasn’t at a convenient theater); Goodbye Solo (which I didn’t like from the previews, but Jerry says is good); Sugar (which also didn’t thrill me from the previews, but got raves from the critics); and Me and Orson Welles (which just opened, so don’t rush me, okay). The biggest surprise here, and I keep rereading the list to make sure I’m right, is that Precious wasn’t listed. Precious at this point is suppose to get a best picture, director, screenplay and supporting actress nomination, with a possible actress nom thrown in. There is some buzz of it taking the prize (but Up in the Air may have burst that bubble).

A Serious Man got best original screenplay, which probably indicates a nom for that as well.

So far I only see six definite to very probable nominations for best picture at the Oscars: Up in the Air, Up, Julie and Julia, Inglorious Basterds, Precious and The Hurt Locker. Invictus looks good, but I have to wait and see how well it is received when it opens. NBR tends to like these sorts of well meaning political dramas more than the Academy does.

The other big surprise is that Woody Harrelson won best supporting actor over Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Basterds. Though Waltz is still expected to win the Oscar, this probably means that Harrelson will at least get a nomination. Also, the NBR awards also probably indicated that acting nominations will go to George Clooney, Morgan Freeman, Carey Mulligan, though I wouldn’t be so quick to throw in Anna Kendrick for a Best Supporting Actress nom, yet. It’s still too early. Jerry thinks this means that Clint Eastwood will also get a directing nomination for Invictus, but I’m not going there yet. Everybody says that Eastwood always gets a nomination when he brings a film out; I don’t know why, since if one looks at the films he directed, he actually often gets overlooked for a directing nomination (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Changeling and Gran Torino and rumor had it that they brought out Letters from Iwo Jima early because the buzz was that Eastwood wasn’t going to be nominated for Flags of our Fathers).

The Golden Globe noms are coming our around the 15th.