Some Oscars thoughts this early in the race

20 Sep

With Venice, Toronto and Telluride over and done with, awards season is underway. This is always a fun time of the year for me as a movie fan, so I’m sure I’ll be chiming in as the journey to the Kodak Theatre progresses. What fascinates me is of course the films themselves (though I won’t be seeing any of them anytime soon myself, unfortunately), but also the race. The PR strategies employed by the studios. The jockeying for position. The films that fail to gain traction despite heavy pre-hype. The contenders that arrive from out of nowhere. Trying to gauge the Academy’s taste is something people often say is easy to do (hence the idea of Oscar bait), but AMPAS can be very fickle indeed. Always be prepared for the unexpected.

But it’s very early in the race, and speculating about what’s going to win at this point still seems a bit premature to me, especially considering all the films that haven’t been seen by anyone yet. As I said, I haven’t seen any of the films myself, and I don’t have any juicy inside info to offer. There are other sites than mine that offer more up-to-date news and analyses of the whole thing (I highly recommend In Contention).

So what do I have to offer Oscars-wise at this time? Just my own random thoughts and observations.

We still have no clear frontrunner for Best Picture, which is a pleasant development. Anything can still happen. By this time last year, The King’s Speech was the film to beat already (though doubts would arise as the year came to a close). Same with Slumdog Millionaire three years ago. But now there’s still life in the race. The Descendants is looking strong so far, but it’s a comedy, and AMPAS are generally reluctant to give films like that their big prize. There’s summer’s big surprise hit The Help, but it’s going to need a good push to stay fresh in people’s minds. Political drama The Ides of March seems like it would be right up the Academy’s alley, but it has met with solid-but-not-great critical reception. The Tree of Life remains a big question mark. And there are plenty of big ones still unseen, such as Clint Eastwood‘s J. Edgar, Stephen Daldry‘s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Steven Spielberg‘s War Horse.

Gary Oldman, Oscar hopeful

In contrast, the Best Actor field seems to be stabilizing somewhat. George Clooney (The Descendants), Jean Dujardin (The Artist) and Gary Oldman (looking for a long overdue first nomination for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) have all gotten the necessary praise and seem safe bets, along with recently unveiled Moneyball‘s Brad Pitt. And barring a complete flop by J. Edgar, Leonardo DiCaprio appears likely to join them. Who could oust any of them? Michael Fassbender, for one. Both Shame and A Dangerous Method could do it for him. Ryan Gosling maybe, whether it’s through Drive or The Ides of March.

Speaking of Drive, I have no idea what it will have any chance at being nominated for. Critics have loved the hell out of it, but what branches of the Academy will take a liking to it? Maybe none at all. I could easily see that happening.

People have been talking for way too long about how Best Actress will come down to Glenn Close vs Meryl Streep. The latter’s The Iron Lady still hasn’t shown, but I’d put my money on Close of the two. There’s a better story to be told with her winning for Albert Nobbs. Hopefully something will heat up this discussion though, because it’s been stale for months. I’m hoping for a late resurgence of Tilda Swinton love myself. What happened to We Need to Talk About Kevin anyway?

And what’s going to happen to Woody Allen‘s Midnight in Paris? It raked in more money at the box office than any of the director’s previous films and was being called the first possible Best Picture contender of the year. But therein lies the problem: it arrived way back in spring. What can be done to keep it in the running? An Original Screenplay nod seems likely, in any case.

Not happening.

Remember when people were talking about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Super 8 and Rise of the Planet of the Apes as possible Best Picture nominees? Oh the joys of summer speculating. None of them seem very likely anymore, do they?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo seems to be a return to his dark 90s thriller roots for David Fincher. Which is great, because those movies of his were excellent. Don’t expect the Academy to fawn all over it, though. They were very happy to ignore Fincher until he started playing to their tastes with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I am not expecting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to be an Oscars contender at all, except possibly for star Rooney Mara.

Pixar’s Cars 2 made tons of money this summer but is by far the studio’s worst received film yet. This means that their usual playground Best Animated Feature might be an exciting category for once. Will The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn strike gold, or will its motion capture make the Academy deem it ineligible? If that one’s out of the running, Rango might be the horse to beat.

Nobody’s talking about Sweden’s submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category, Pernilla August‘s Beyond (Svinalängorna). We haven’t won that Oscar since 1983. I don’t think that’ll change this time around.

Finally, some largely baseless early Oscars picks. Please don’t hold me to these even a week from now. I’m just guessing. I still reserve rights to proudly proclaim “I told you so!” if I happen to be right, however.

Best Picture: War Horse

Best Director: Steven Spielberg – War Horse

Best Actor: Brad Pitt – Moneyball

Best Actress: Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs

Best Supporting Actor: Nick Nolte – Warrior

Best Supporting Actress: Shailene Woodley – The Descendants

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants

Best Original Screenplay: J. Edgar

Best Animated Feature: Rango

Best Foreign Language Film: Poland – In Darkness


Posted by on 20 September, 2011 in Oscars


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8 responses to “Some Oscars thoughts this early in the race

  1. Nostra

    22 September, 2011 at 08:59

    Those are some very early predictions! Really don’t have a feeling for these yet as there are a lot of movies still to be checked out. I do agree with you on Rango as that will win the Oscar for best animated feature.

  2. Emil

    22 September, 2011 at 10:24

    The predictions are really only there because it seemed like they should be. Just pure random guessing on my part. I’m with you: it’s way too early to say what’s going to win. Best Picture looks like it will be an interesting race to follow this time around, though.

  3. Tyler

    26 September, 2011 at 08:15

    Tis quite early but anything could happen. You raise some interesting and important points. Still have to see DRIVE when it comes out here, but I think that should score at least one Oscar nom, and there has to be something for Ryan Gosling, really. Would like to see that Swedish film if we get it on DVD, and Sweden is long overdue for that Oscar. Has it won it for a film NOT directed by Ingmar Bergman? He won it in 1960, 1961, 1972 and 1983, I think.

    • Emil

      26 September, 2011 at 08:29

      Sweden has won 3 times: 1960, 1961 and 1983. But you are right: those are all Bergman. I’m sure we’ll ascend the throne again someday. I haven’t seen Beyond yet, but I recently bought the DVD so a review should be coming sometime soon-ish.

      • Tyler

        26 September, 2011 at 11:05

        Not ’72? I was sure he won for CRIES AND WHISPERS, but that must’ve just been a nomination.

        Looking forward to the BEYOND review!

        • Emil

          26 September, 2011 at 13:18

          Cries and Whispers was a weird one. It was nominated for Best Picture, DIrector, Original Screenplay, Cinematography and Costume Design, but not Best Foreign Language Film. It actually seems like we didn’t sumbit any film at all for that category that year (or so indicates Wikipedia). I wonder why. Truffaut’s Day For Night won the award for France that year.

  4. Sammy V

    27 September, 2011 at 21:58

    Interesting picks. I hope Rango wins; it’s definitely the best animated film I’ve seen this year. I definitely think Drive will get some attention from the Academy as well.

    • Emil

      27 September, 2011 at 23:15

      I can’t comment to much on Drive since I haven’t seen it myself yet (Lord knows I want to, though). It feels like it will be facing stiff competition in any category it might have a shot at. It is a genre film, so that’s always a strike against it in terms of Best Picture chances. We’ll have to wait and see.


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