Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mid-Autumn Oscar Nom Predix

You already know where to go for more regular and more informed speculation about the nomination fields. In fact, here is a direct link to Nathaniel's best guesses and savvy reasoning, and here is an index of postings by my favorite In Contention writer, including his Long Shot pieces which have the nice effect of dialing back from the sporting, "tea leaves" aspect of the season and asking bigger questions. (My criteria for linking to Oscar bloggers: it needs to be clear that they care about the movies even more than they care about the Oscars, and they need to be just as interesting when they're talking about totally non-Oscary movies or – gasp! – subjects other than movies. In my experience, even/especially among the most famous names, this is a smaller group than one wishes.)

As ever, I'm certainly wrong in what follows, but it's all about finding out how wrong I am... I'm sure you'll be happy to let me know! For the record, I think Avatar is going to bomb, I'm not convinced The Tree of Life is going to open on time, I think Bright Star is going to have trouble higher up than the so-called "technicals," I think The Road stands a shot at Best Picture but tougher prospects almost everywhere else, I think Clooney could get a shockeroo snub in that Paul Giamatti way, and I find Inglourious Basterds unusually hard to anticipate in terms of Oscar's reaction.

Also, if Best Director looks like this, or even close to this, I have a hunch that Bigelow will win. Which would be phenomenal. Bigelow and other early picks to win marked with a .

MY GUESSES: An Education, The Hurt Locker, Invictus, The Lovely Bones, Nine, Precious, The Road, Star Trek, Up,  Up in the Air
BUT MAYBE: Inglourious Basterds, Bright Star
OR EVEN: A Serious Man, The Tree of Life, Public Enemies

MY GUESSES:  Kathryn Bigelow, Lee Daniels, Jason Reitman, Lone Scherfig, Quentin Tarantino
BUT MAYBE: Peter Jackson, Clint Eastwood, Rob Marshall, Terrence Malick
OR EVEN: Joel and Ethan Coen, John Hillcoat

MY GUESSES: Abbie Cornish, Helen Mirren,  Carey Mulligan, Gabourey Sidibe, Meryl Streep
BUT MAYBE: Robin Wright Penn, Penélope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Hilary Swank, Audrey Tautou
OR EVEN: Saoirse Ronan, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tilda Swinton, Natalie Portman
OR IF THEIR FILMS GET RELEASED: Annette Bening, Ellen Burstyn, Naomi Watts

MY GUESSES: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Colin Firth, Morgan Freeman,  Christopher Plummer
BUT MAYBE: Jeremy Renner
OR EVEN: Viggo Mortensen, Daniel Day-Lewis, Hal Holbrook, Robert De Niro, Michael Stuhlbarg, Nicolas Cage, Paul Bettany, Clive Owen

MY GUESSES: Penélope Cruz, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick,  Mo'Nique, Julianne Moore
BUT MAYBE: Marion Cotillard, Rosamund Pike
OR EVEN: Mariah Carey, Susan Sarandon, Judi Dench, Mélanie Laurent

MY GUESSES: Anthony Mackie, Christian McKay, Alfred Molina, Stanley Tucci,  Christoph Waltz
BUT MAYBE: Alec Baldwin, Robert Duvall, James McAvoy
OR EVEN: Jeff Bridges, Steve Martin, Paul Schneider, Matt Damon

MY GUESSES: (500) Days of Summer,  The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, A Serious Man, Up
BUT MAYBE: Duplicity
OR EVEN: Bright Star, The White Ribbon, Broken Embraces, The Tree of Life

MY GUESSES: An Education, In the Loop, Invictus, Precious,  Up in the Air
BUT MAYBE: The Road, The Lovely Bones, Nine, The Informant!
OR EVEN: Julie & Julia, Bright Star, Public Enemies, The Men Who Stare at Goats

MY GUESSES: Bright Star, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds,  Nine, The Tree of Life
BUT MAYBE: The Road, The White Ribbon, A Single Man, A Serious Man
OR EVEN: The Lovely Bones, Amelia

MY GUESSES:  The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Nine, Precious, Star Trek
BUT MAYBE: Public Enemies, The Road, Up in the Air, The Lovely Bones
OR EVEN: The Tree of Life

MY GUESSES: Ajami, Letters to Father Jacob, Max Manus,  Samson & Delilah, White Wedding
BUT MAYBE: About Elly, A Prophet, The White Ribbon, Backyard
OR EVEN: Police, Adjective, I Killed My Mother, No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti, The Milk of Sorrow

MY GUESSES: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Coraline, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Ponyo,  Up
BUT MAYBE: Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, 9
OR EVEN: Monsters vs. Aliens

MY GUESSES: The Informant!, Nine, Public Enemies, A Single Man,  Up
BUT MAYBE: The Lovely Bones, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chéri, The Tree of Life, The Princess and the Frog
OR EVEN: A Serious Man, Bright Star

MY GUESSES: Bright Star, Chéri, Coco Avant Chanel, Inglourious Basterds,  Nine
BUT MAYBE: Amelia, The Young Victoria, Public Enemies, An Education, Taking Woodstock
OR EVEN: Julie & Julia, Where the Wild Things Are, The Last Station, The Brothers Bloom



Blogger Glenn Dunks said...

Quentin Tarantino as lone director is something I hadn't thought of before (especially with a ten wide field where I figure if there's ever a lone director it'll be for something really left-of-centre of David Lynch of Pedro Almodovar), but now that you mention it I can totally picture it. People loving the movie, but being wary of placing it on Best Picture - especially since they prefer their WWII as dreary as possible - but the director's branch giving him and olive branch for having the balls.

Elsewhere, a lot of your predictions seem to make sense, although that Star Trek nomination is just... I find it so hard to believe.

Nine for Original Score made me raise my eyebrow (well, as a manner of speaking since I can't actually do that arching of one eyebrow thing - how sad).

1:32 AM, October 06, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Glenn: I wasn't trying to make a point with adding a lone director despite the ten-wide field, but as I looked at the list of contenders, as boneheaded as it might be to relegate Eastwood to a runner-up, Tarantino exerted more "pull" as a possibility to me. And though we all remember, post-Soderbergh, that Michael Curtiz scored two nominations in Best Director in 1938, fewer people remember that one of those nods, for Angels with Dirty Faces, was for a non-BP nominee. It can certainly happen. (Gregory La Cava did it, too, in 1936... which means, in 25% of the years when Oscar nominated ten Pictures and five Directors, the latter did not all fall within the former.)

Meanwhile, the Music Branch has perpetrated so many idiocies over the years that if Harvey can convince people there is new material padding out the familiar Broadway score from Nine (which for most folks won't be "familiar," anyway), I can imagine them springing for this.

But again, I am not just being modest: I am always, always wrong.

2:05 AM, October 06, 2009  
Blogger Sam Brooks said...

To say nothing of the rest of An Education, if the film takes off in a big way, Rosamund Pike should have a strong shot at a nomination.

Not the best part of the film, but I'll be damned if her perfect, empathetic take on this airhead wasn't as necessary to this film as it was necessary to Bullets Over Broadway.

2:40 AM, October 06, 2009  
Blogger Colin Low said...

I won't chime in on the predictions, because meh, but thank you for your linking policy. If I have a pet peeve about the movie blogosphere, it's when the award bodies become their own ouroborostic point — its corollary being the lazy critical shorthand of "a surefire nom" or even "Oscar-nominated/winning" as somehow meaning anything than "a highly noticeable performance".

P.S. That "meh" was not directed at your predictions per se, as much as how predictable the Academy is (within a margin of error).

P.P.S. Yes, I know "ouroborostic" isn't a word. It should be. If there's a proper variant, please tell me.

2:46 AM, October 06, 2009  
Blogger Colin Low said...

But I'll take back my gripes if Bigelow did win. That would blow. my. mind. (Though your Director line-up is already too optimistic, and even if it did occur, I think Tarantino would clinch it over Bigelow.)

... that was me, capitulating my principle of keep-away-from-Oscar-he'll-only-disappoint-you. Really, he's like Bill from Kill Bill.

3:28 AM, October 06, 2009  
Blogger Guy Lodge said...

First off, thank you (as ever) for such a kind and complimentary link.

We're on the same page with a lot of these predictions -- I share your utter lack of faith in "Avatar," as well as your hunch that Bigelow looks like the one to beat right now.

Speaking of which, this is the biggest problem I'm having with this year's race from afar: it's relatively easy to pick nominees, but potential winners seem VERY thin on the ground. All those folks predicting "Nine" seem to be forgetting that the Academy never rewards exactly the same film twice ("Godfather" excepted, of course), and I simply can't imagine two Rob Marshall musicals triumphing in one decade. "Precious" (sight unseen) would be my guess right now, but are they going to reward two wholly non-white films in a row?

Of course, I might have more options if I didn't have this weird conviction that both "Invictus" and "The Lovely Bones" are going to underperform, but the ghastly source material in both cases (and the ghastlier trailer for the latter) keep giving me doubts.

Finally, I'll say it in the safe space here rather than at IC (since virtual death threats seem to roll in whenever I so much as mention Meryl Streep's name there), but I'll be severely disappointed if she wins her long-awaited (I refuse to say "overdue" about someone so richly honored) third Oscar for the amusing doodle that is her "Julie & Julia" performance. Go Nancy Meyers ... and those are three words I NEVER thought I'd write.

5:23 AM, October 06, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Brooke: Any comparison to Tilly in Bullets, justified in whatever way, are a surefire strategy for making me eager to see a performance. Almost everything I've read about this perf carries the same message that your comment does, and given how much the Academy likes readjusted takes on familiar roles—even slight readjustments, certainly in this category, and most of all on blank-slate girlfriends and wives—Pike would seem to have a strong shot. She's against a heavier field of contenders than Tilly was, though.

@Colin: "Too optimistic" because there's no Ron Howard-type standby? I guess that would be Eastwood, but like Guy says, I'm not willing to take the embrace of Invictus on credit just yet. But I'm glad you appreciate the linking policy. I don't think I've ever read a David Poland piece except the one about The Phantom of the Opera being "surefire!" and I haven't regretted it yet.

@Everyone: Ouroboros—if, like me, you had to look it up.

@Guy: I'm with you on The Lovely Bones; to be perfectly honest, albeit unflattering to myself, I'm almost rooting against it, because the trailer looks so smarmy and I'm still disappointed that Lynne Ramsay's heavily rewritten version got the bounce from the studio, once the book became such a massive hit. It's stupid to hope that a movie made my talented people doesn't work out, and I'm not quite there, but I feel bad mojo.

As I've signaled elsewhere, we're of the same mind about the Julie & Julia perf. Still, my belief that it's a fun piece of work but well short of prize-worthy has been received by some readers even on this blog as a categorical statement "against Meryl Streep," so you may not be as safe over here as you think. Keep one eye open! Don't open any packages of boeuf bourgignon that emit even the most barely perceptible ticking sound...

10:56 AM, October 06, 2009  
Blogger tim r said...

I was thinking just yesterday about how good Bigelow's chances are. Very good, right about now. I don't want to jinx them, but... exciting!

I think Avatar is quite capable of not bombing, and in fact being the biggest hit of the year in a huge-silly-videogame kind of way, without getting any major-category nominations, so I both agree with you and don't, there.

Snap on Mulligan and Mo'Nique. Your most provocative call has got to be Plummer winning, about which I've got to say I'm extremely sceptical, only because every review I've read is like, "Huh?" and "Mirren, more like". I'd be very pleased if Bettany or Stuhlbarg got nods, but can't really argue it's likely.

Oh, and I think Precious will win Best Picture. I'm almost tempted to put money on it. Though I'm never any good at this parlour game, and don't really fancy taking a bath on it. A good film winning, after last year's unfortunate case of mass hypnosis, would be reward enough.

1:46 PM, October 06, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Tim: I agree completely about the jinx mentality re: Bigelow.

As for Plummer: it seems crazy even to me, but I don't see Clooney bagging a second one, Damon would be extremely lucky to pull it off, and Colin Firth, everyone's sudden cause célèbre, is headlining what everyone seems to agree is a gay gay gay little movie. If it's between him and a consecrated talent who's never been so much as nominated, in the kind of vehicle for which Oscar often demonstrates a weakness (playing a real life personage, no less), I have to believe that Oscar's reactionary tendencies will kick in pretty fiercely.

But not only would I love to be wrong, I can barely be bothered to think too much about it. As Guy says, picking winners seems very flummoxing at the moment, especially given the new parlor game of picking on Mo'Nique.

Which I refuse to recognize with its own post, but really, it seemingly is a full time job to campaign for an Oscar amidst the ludicrous hobnobbing apparatus that has been built around these trophies. If you're trying to start a TV show, and you aren't the kind of actor who can expect boundless casting possibilities, I think you should feel entitled to some compensation for all the interviewing and traveling and baby-kissing. But that's ALL I want to say about that.

2:44 PM, October 06, 2009  
Blogger Colin Low said...

I just don't trust the Academy to be a total knockout in Best Director field, in contrast to how you've pointed out before that Best Actress has yielded a wondrous line-up in each decade. I can get behind Eastwood being a dicey choice (Invictus could easily slip into Changeling/Gran Torino territory for him), but I'd still think they'd slip in a Rob Marshall or Peter Jackson, familiar categorisable quantities who maybe don't quite deserve the nom. Though of course I haven't seen their movies.

I've also changed my mind about the most probably winner in your line-up. Not Tarantino, whose movie probably alienated Academy members in that Dark Knight way, but Jason Reitman: the man who slipped in against the odds for Juno and now seems to be making his Michael Clayton.

Other thoughts: the prospect of a Firth-Mulligan-Mo'Nique-Waltz winners' circle is what I'm most afraid of jinxing, because four deserving first-nom winners would be exhilarating. (Again, I'll have to see the perfs to believe it.) Even last year, which saw a hope of four first-win winners (though I wouldn't have chosen those women), they gave it to Penn over Rourke. Which is the precedent I'm using for why it feels like Meryl will trump Mulligan. Sight unseen, you and Guy are making me dread her Julie & Julia perf when it arrives here, as well as excited about what It's Complicated would bring. My prediction: not far enough, because her attempts at mimicry would probably trump the lived-in-ness of the IC role.

7:24 PM, October 06, 2009  
Blogger Colin Low said...

The other angle for which Penn is a precedent for Meryl: one of the only nominated biopiccaneers in his year, and the most respected among them in the Academy. His also became the only winning perf of the four not to be based on a fictional character.

7:33 PM, October 06, 2009  
Blogger Guy Lodge said...

Colin: For my part, I assure you that Streep's performance in "Julie & Julia" is nothing to dread -- it's droll, engaging work. But by her standards, it's also eminently disposable.

4:15 AM, October 07, 2009  
Blogger Guy Lodge said...

Oh Nick, humor me if you will: I know you've crafyily backed out of specifying films in your acting categories, but is your projected Streep nom for "J&J" or "Complicated?" I would love some company on the latter limb!

4:17 AM, October 07, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Colin: As Guy said, I think there is every reason to expect to enjoy Streep in J&J, much less every reason not to dread her, or the film. I'm even of the unpopular opinion that the Julie bits are just as tasty as the Julia scenes. I just don't get the impulse to revere the performance.

As for the Mulligan:Streep::Rourke:Penn analogies, I can see your point, but "gleaming ingénue / Star of tomorrow" is its own phenom in the Best Actress algebra, with no real corollaries in the way people vote on Best Actor, and I think Julie & Julia's reputation, deserved or otherwise, as a much less "substantial" picture than Milk puts some dents in the Streep:Penn link. But you could well be right.

What I really want to see is Streep and Penn headlining a movie together, since she tapped him over ten years ago in an article as the actor she most wanted to work with. Dan Callahan, in a private message, recently expressed his dream of a Long Day's Journey into Night with Streep and Nicholson or Streep and Anthony Hopkins as the married Tyrones. If that happened, I think Penn would be aces in the Jason Robards part, don't you? Everybody? Is everyone panting now?

12:23 PM, October 07, 2009  
Blogger tim r said...

Omigod yes. But are you envisaging this as a movie (which I might be able to see) or a Broadway production (which I would take out a second mortgage to come and see)? Or both? And who plays the consumptive writer? If you give me Peter Sarsgaard, I am yours for life (though I am totally that already)...

5:07 PM, October 07, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

Let's assume cinema, since the recent Broadway revival of LDJN with Redgrave, Dennehy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Robert Sean Leonard is still fresh in lots of minds. (We never got the Jessica Lange production on these shores, which is what initially prompted my chat with Dan.)

I'd been casting about for an Edmund in my mind, and Sarsgaard is as good a suggestion as anyone, especially if Penn's a bit old to play Streep's son (though they could age her up a little and him done, and it is called acting). Hoffman played what I'm calling the "Robards" part, but it might be exciting to see him have a whirl at the consumptive writer, especially since he and Streep obviously get on so well.

5:51 PM, October 07, 2009  
Blogger Andrew K. said...

Although I'm anticipating UP IN THE AIR I would be fine with a Clooney snub. Ironic that you compare a potential snub to Giamiti who Clooney ROBBED for Cinderella Man. Not a popular choice, but I think he deserved the Oscar.

6:09 PM, October 07, 2009  
Blogger Andrew K. said...

Nick, wouldn't Sean be too old to play the JR role? But you beat me to it. Sarsgaard as Edmund is old but I would love that.

Off topic but how could AMPAS ignore Dean Stockwell's performance?

7:00 PM, October 07, 2009  
Blogger Colin Low said...

See, I wouldn't be the one to presume expertise on the balloting process, but in my head, the Academy members each cast their votes for all their desired winners at once, questionnaire-style, rather than ruminate through each category and pick an individual winner (as critics are wont to do *grin*). So whenever I prognosticate on Oscar, I think more in terms of the spread-the-wealth(-among-only-your-favourite-movies) tendencies of a voter thinking in the big picture of the "winners' circle", rather than in terms of any category-specific merit. In other words, not "who do I want to see win in this category?" but "who do I want to see holding an Oscar with the three other actors I'm picking?" And I can't imagine most voters picturing a winners' circle with all first-nommers. They'd be more comfortable with a veteran among them, and Streep is the closest so far to being a semi-frontrunner. This is the context I'm casting the Streep-Penn parallel in, with no corresponding equation of Rourke and Mulligan.

And yes, I'd love to see Streep and Penn work together, though I'd have to reserve my thoughts on Long Day's Journey into Night until I see it. It was already in my queue, incidentally, because I recently watched Suddenly, Last Summer for the first time: what a glorious experience, to have a legendary actress descend upon you for the first time and blow you (and, sadly, everyone else in the movie) away! Thanks to your hearty recommendation, of course. ;)

7:29 PM, October 07, 2009  
Blogger Danny King said...

I really hopes Tarantino is in the running for Best Director. Inglourious Basterds is one of my favorite films of the year, but at this point there doesn't seem to be much Oscar buzz for the film outside of Waltz and maybe an original screenplay nomination. Hopefully this will change as we get closer to the new year.

10:34 PM, October 07, 2009  
Blogger Glenn said...

In my year-in-advance (how silly) predictions I think I completely snubbed The Lovely Bones because I didn't care about it. That didn't stop me predicting Invictus. Ugh. Make it stop. I'm sure no matter the quality that every male critic will find something in it to somehow give it 5 stars out of 5. "It's better than Flags of Our Fathers!"

Would Plummer have a better shot at winning a supporting actor trophy. They don't seem to give lead actor awards to old dudes. I see Firth as a possible Spider Woman type winner at the moment, but really. It's Colin Firth. I never expected him to ever win an Oscar so who knows...

3:34 AM, October 10, 2009  

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