Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I'll Take One Stab at This

Since Oscar ballots went out today, and I have a hard time imagining anything else transpiring in the coming weeks that will significantly change what we know already in the Picture, Director, and Acting races, I'm going to pony up to the bet-placing table and prognosticate. One update to follow in January to incorporate more of the non-celebrity fields. (I hate calling them the "technical categories." Emmanuel Lubezki and Skip Lievsay and Sandy Powell are artists, people. You know it, and I know it.)

Also, read this, which is lovely, funny, and beautifully thought-out, and way more valuable than what I'm doing here.

PICTURE: The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse
Anything Else to Consider? Bridesmaids, because people genuinely love it and it might have helped green-light some more projects, and A Separation, if it pulls off the kind of below-the-radar City of God surge of which it seems capable (though of course I still doubt this, especially up top)

DIRECTOR: Michel Hazanavicius, Terrence Malick, Bennett Miller, Alexander Payne, Martin Scorsese
Anything Else to Consider? I'm wondering if emeritus contenders Woody Allen or Steven Spielberg can elbow one of these guys aside, but otherwise, I think that's your roster. Again, maybe Asghar Farhadi if Separation is getting out to more people than we realize.

ACTRESS: Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Rooney Mara, Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams
Anything Else to Consider? I think Tilda's going to lose her standard spot in the precursors to the same things that brought down Angelina Jolie for A Mighty Heart: film's too small, and it's not a screener a lot of folks are just dying to pop in. If there's a seventh factor, I guess it's Charlize Theron, but I really don't think so.

ACTOR: George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Michael Shannon
Anything Else to Consider? Unlike Kevin, I think Take Shelter will draw eyeballs; everything from Chastain Curiosity to Boardwalk Empire to a full year of strong reviews will help. Leonardo DiCaprio, Demián Bichir, Gary Oldman, Ryan Gosling (for Drive), and even Woody Harrelson are all possible threats, in about that order. Crowded race.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Bérénice Bejo, Melissa McCarthy, Janet McTeer, Octavia Spencer, Shailene Woodley
Anything Else to Consider? Can you survive vote-splitting with your own projects and vote-splitting with your scene partner? I'd like to see Chastain here, but since someone has to go, I'm guessing it's her. Redgrave's Volumnia still gnashing her war-monger's teeth in the corner, where she's been most of the season.

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Kenneth Branagh, Albert Brooks, Jonah Hill, Brad Pitt, Christopher Plummer
Anything Else to Consider? The longest list of possibilities, to include Max von Sydow, Viggo Mortensen, Nick Nolte, Ben Kingsley, Patton Oswalt, Andy Serkis, and Armie Hammer. Yet Plummer remains, for me, the most heavily fore-ordained winner of the night. Exciting that all five of the other races seem genuinely open as of Christmas!

(Again, one update and additional categories to follow in January)

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Anonymous Howard Bannister said...

I can live with this except:

Director: Bennett Miller out. Spielberg or Allen in.

Actress: Tilda Swinton in. Glenn Close or Rooney Mara out.

Supporting Actress: Berenice Bejo out. Jessica Chastain in for something.

And in closing, may I add: Jonah Hill - meh.

3:39 PM, December 27, 2011  
Blogger Andrew K. said...

Call it blind faith in the deity of Vanessa Redgrave, but I keep thinking she can and will get nominated. I don't know why but that category seems so uncertain that I just expect something bizarre (good, bizarre not Maggie Gylenhaal bizarre) to happen. But, not knowing is the fun thing about predictive guesses.

I am always by the reticence with which you get into brief Oscar prognosticating.

3:50 PM, December 27, 2011  
Blogger Robert said...

I was under the impression that you couldn't vote split with yourself for the nominations. So if Chastain got 50 votes for The Help, 30 votes for Take Shelter and 20 votes for Tree of Life, that's 100 votes for her and she beats anyone with fewer than 100. They all get added up and she get's tagged with the film that has the most votes. I know it sounds stupid, but that's why I remembered it. Also it's Oscar so stupid is par for the course.

3:52 PM, December 27, 2011  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Howard: You're offering these as improved predictions, or as personal preferences that you could live with more easily? If the former, I can see all your points; if the latter, potayto potahto. Agree with you that Hill is being handled rather generously for that performance, though I think it's a sign that people really like Moneyball, and I've been totally charmed by the way he's taken the news of all his good fortune on Twitter.

@Andrew: You know I'm on the Redgrave train with you - though I admit that despite one of my very favorite actresses playing one of my two favorites in my favorite Shakespeare play couldn't make me fall in love with the performance, either. If it didn't happen for me, with all that positive predisposition, I can imagine a lot of other people won't try. But, I'd be delighted to be wrong! I like her work better than other performances that have been sailing more smoothly. (I'm curious to know what the missing word is in your last sentence!)

@Robert: You could well be right. I knew that if you drew enough votes to make the top 5 for two different performances they only gave you the one nod, but I didn't think they necessarily combined the tallies on your behalf. I haven't had to know this since Hopkins '93, so my memory has lapsed. If you know for sure but you're trying to be polite to me, I don't mind standing corrected!

5:59 PM, December 27, 2011  
Blogger Andrew K. said...

Oooops, I am always *tickled*. In addition, I am also tickled by your mentioning of Tilda was Angelina circa 2007 because I mentioned that to someone around the times the Globes came out...which is why I feel Charlize mighr be nominated, a la Linney. Haven't seen Young Adult to find out whether Charlize is on Laura's level, but it's a guess.

The thing is, I think Angelina>>>>Tilda (and I like Tilda in this.)

6:04 PM, December 27, 2011  
Anonymous Patrick said...

I hope you're right about McCarthy and Pitt in the supporting races. I hope you're wrong about Hill. I guess I've been spoiled by last year's stellar line up in Supporting Actor but it just seems there's got to be better choices than him and some of the other possibilities you mentioned (Hammer in particular).

I would love to see Tilda nominated again but I agree that not enough people will see the movie. If they wouldn't recognize her for Julia why bother for Kevin.

6:23 PM, December 27, 2011  
Anonymous Matthew said...

Just saw The Descendants and... I can't. There are no words.

Actually, there are.

Clooney is barely going through the motions. I can only respond with a "yuck" after being forced to feel touched by the choppiness of those final scenes. I could barely handle Payne and Co.'s barely-concealed attempt to turn Judy Greer's strange performance in that bizarre hospital scene into a big Beatrice Straight moment. I do think Woodley starts off strong in her initial "big" scenes and does well with a role that becomes increasingly thankless as the film progresses. I can't help but bemoan all the laughable praise that Payne is receiving for creating such a "true to life" teenager. She's rebellious for all of ten minutes before she prematurely becomes sidekick to daddy. And I really don't see what's so defiant about frank profaneness. Woah, the little one keeps flipping people the bird and calling her sister a "motherless whore," how shocking and lifelike!

Doesn't a film need to have a heart in order to be heartfelt? Sorry, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but I think you may have lost the title of Feel-Bad Movie of the season to this sluggish and self-absorbed catastrophe.

Sorry if this reads as the overbearing comment I'm sure it is but I really just needed somewhere to vent.

6:37 PM, December 27, 2011  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Andrew: Oh, good! I'm glad the missing word wasn't "wrathful" or something. :) I'm assuming the "Angie >>>> Tilda" is a specific reference to those two performances, because otherwise I might need a drink. Different strokes and all, but that would be tough for me. As it happens, though, I agree that Angie's magnificent, career-best work as Marianne Pearl > Tilda's Eva Khatchadourian.

@Patrick: I'm with you in pulling for those two. Did you read Mark Harris's piece about Pitt in Tree of Life? He called it the best acting he's seen on screen this year and mounted a compelling case. I'm not going that far with it, but compared to what seems like an oddly lean field, I hope he at least gets included.

@Matthew: You came to the right place, Brother Man. I agree with every bit of that, and you haven't even gotten to the crushingly banal music and photography, the fake sentiment laced with poison (I will scream invective at my comatose wife, and then I will weep a single tear for her!), the badly imbalanced voiceover, the badly exposed nonprofessional actors, the extraneous and implausible characters, or the unbearably fore-ordained plotline about the "sale" of the land. And we're not even done yet! My job doesn't require me to see any Zookeeper-style swill, but among the 102 movies I have seen so far, this one was the laziest, the most stylistically patchy and televisual (back when that meant something bad), and the most aggressively marketed for "prestigious" qualities it absolutely does not have. My opinion.

6:46 PM, December 27, 2011  
Anonymous John said...

Is it just me or are you also tired with the Academy's absent praise for Ryan Gosling? The Blue Valentine shut-out really hurt and I don't think I'll ever forgive the Oscars for that. And this year he's been wonderful in Ides of March, Crazy Stupid Love and, most significantly, in Drive. Such a shame that his talents may not bring to fruition even a nom this year while he is at his prime. Not to mention a separate honorable mention for being Hollywoods sexiest than this season would be splendid as well!

P.S. Love the Descendants criticisim, Matthew.

7:10 PM, December 27, 2011  
Blogger Andrew K. said...

As soon as I typed I said, oy - people will slay me for this. So, yes, it is specific to Marianne Pearl and Eva Khatchadourian. I love Angelina and am hot and cold on Tilda, but obviously Tilda is the better actor.

And I don't know if Nick does, but John I'm with you on Gosling. I don't love him, but that shut-out last year for The Blue Valentine really hurt.

8:13 PM, December 27, 2011  
Anonymous Meshi said...

In the midst of all of this - where is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close? Not that i'm raving for it, but it seems odd that it has been below the radar for this long. Will it suffer because of the Golden Globe shutout and general forgetfulness or will it pull a True Grit?

8:18 PM, December 27, 2011  
Blogger MD said...

Fully agreed on most of these nominations, although I'm not quite sure about Moneyball for direction, as I think people may be cooling on that one.

Love the mentions for Pitt and Shannon, since I'm hoping for both of them to get in. I'm also quietly hoping for McCarthy, although I'm sad Byrne has gone unnoticed under all of the McCarthy commotion, since I think she was nearly as good.

I'm also thinking that Chastain may just get in for The Help. She's gotten quite a few citations for it lately, right? My memory gets a bit foggy after so many lists. And we've had two nominees from a single film in that category for the last 2-3 years, I think.

Also, as a sheepish last note: loved the piece you did on Safe. I kept meaning to comment on it, but the depth of insight kept taking away anything I might have wanted to say. Brilliant, underrated movie.

9:56 PM, December 27, 2011  
Blogger Colin Low said...

I watched The Help recently, and I know you're trying to block out last year's Hooper love, but I suspect Tate Taylor is a threat to consider for Best Director.

I know, yikes, but I have enough distance from the Oscars not to be upset that Plummer is the only collective mention that Beginners and Weekend are going to get.

11:24 PM, December 27, 2011  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@John and @Andrew: Leaving Gosling off the list last year (and for Rooster Cogburn?) was incredibly dumb, and probably a nearer miss than the Drive perf will be this year. Just not the kind of work they're almost ever into. He sure deserves it, though.

@Meshi: I can't figure that one out, but failing any incentive to rank its chances really high, I just pushed it aside save for an outside possibility on Max von Sydow.

@MD: You could easily be right about Chastain; you're probably more likely to be right than I am! Agreed with the rest of what you said about the predictions, and thanks for the kind words about the Safe piece.

@Colin: Don't even say that out loud. I know what you're saying (Peter Cattaneo, etc.), but I really think it's a thought to be avoided. Whatever the virtues of The Help, they aren't in direction, and I actually wonder if it's bound to be as a big a presence in the overall nomination tally as many of us have sort of been imagining.

10:51 AM, December 28, 2011  
Anonymous Mark K said...

Very intriguing predictions and that’s a great point re: MIGHTY HEART/ KEVIN comparisons.

Now, Mr. Davis, I beg of you, please no not torment your readers by delaying your Nick Flick Picks nominees/winners for 2011. You haven’t done them in their entirety since 2006… and its torture—especially considering your taste and the fact you’ve undoubtedly seen more films this year than any Oscar voter. Even if you don’t attach write-ups (which are always divine), please, please, please post your personal picks before the Oscar nominations are revealed. Pretty please… ☺

5:27 PM, December 28, 2011  
Blogger CCW said...

Nick, any thoughts on Corey Stoll's chances? It seems as if his unfortunate exclusion from the SAGs has really dampened his chances.

7:16 PM, December 28, 2011  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Mark K.: This is so kind, that you care to cajole me like this! I'd be delighted to oblige, at least with a listing. The spanner in the works is that Mysteries of Lisbon, which I'd love to see before final listing, doesn't drop on DVD till January 17, so I'll need to find time for a four-hour movie somewhere in there, leaving time for the durn thing to leave my house. But I'll remember your comment, and I'll get you a list by the end of January, if not before the AMPAS nominations.

@CCW (love it when you pop in!): I'd be happy to see Stoll there, and given that the field is kind of vague and the movie has got such a fanbase, I don't see why it's impossible. Not likely, but not impossible. Does seem like he snagged a lot of people's attention, even if it's not the kind of performance they usually laud.

10:59 PM, December 28, 2011  
Anonymous The Man With No Name said...

This may sound petty but I'm hoping Tilda doesn't get nominated for Kevin. My reasoning: I don't consider it a great performance and I hate for my favorite actors to get nominated for lackluster work. Sorry. That Julia snub still stings, guys. And in a year where Sandra Bullock wins for the The Blind Side. Too much. Please excuse me... I have to go cry in a corner now.

1:48 PM, December 29, 2011  
Blogger The Pretentious Know it All said...

Nick, your faith in the Academy as far as The Tree of Life goes is much more optimistic than mine. But, I suppose one can look at the fact that they went for The Thin Red Line in such a big way, with little precursor support as encouraging precedent. I'm still skeptical, though. I don't think it's inconceivable that Malick would get nominated, but the film would get left off (as strange as that sounds in an expanded BP field). We'll see.

It's like Matthew compiled all of my thoughts about The Descendants and perfectly distilled them. I also want to add, said by my friend who accompanied me to see it...

"I love the brief, atonal sequence that goes into the family lineage and bends over backwards to explain to the viewer why we're not dealing with any non-white Hawaiian protagonists in this movie."

The Descendants is definitely this year's Up in the Air for me. A middlebrow dramedy that seems to be attaching itself to all these lists and I kind of don't understand why. In such a competitive year, where Fassbender's nomination is still a question mark, Gosling/Shannon are on the outskirts and McGregor and the boys of Weekend aren't even in the conversation, I don't really get Clooney's pre-ordained spot on this list for a one-note, death-rattle of a performance (and I like Clooney, but let's be real).

I think Redgrave is out, I'm sad to say. It's somewhat like the Lesley Manville situation last year where she was proclaimed a lock early on, and despite the fact that the season progressed with little or no acknowledgement, pundits seemed unwilling to let it go. Let it go, people.

I agree that if Tilda's out, Rooney's in. I wish it were Elizabeth Olsen, but I'm glad it's not Felicity Jones. The Academy decided they could do without a PYT in best actress altogether.

I will always be a devout follower of Oscar, but looking at the contenders this year, I'm bracing myself for the most off-consensus year in terms of my own tastes since 2008 when they only nominated 5 best pictures.

The problem, as I see it, is at least two-fold. Not only do they not see enough movies, but the movies they do nominate, they're not looking at them in the right way. Pompous statement, I know. But if Plummer indeed remains the frontrunner to win supporting actor, how can they make that be Beginners only nomination? Can't they look at that film and see a much more nuanced, artful and human portrayal of the imminent death of a family member than The Descendants? And Plummer is great, but can't they turn their attention a hair to the right and notice a wonderful supporting actress performance from Mary Page Keller that would be preferable to at least two of the inevitable nominees in that category? And Albert Brooks is fine, but I don't necessarily understand why it's him and not Bryan Cranston as the appointee from Drive. Okay, I do understand, but I'm talking merits of performance here.

Broken record, I'm very aware of it. We go through this every year. It's just amazing to me how, even when it takes a long time, like this year, it's just an inevitable wait until the whole season become echo-chamber-y in terms of the movies and performances people are willing to consider.

12:11 PM, December 30, 2011  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Man With No Name: I will assume you are Harvey Weinstein until I hear otherwise. I'm frustrated to admit how much I agree with you. Have been harboring same thought since seeing Kevin, which to me was almost as big a Swinton letdown as it was a Ramsay letdown, though given her odd casting and the even odder casting of Reilly and the general approach of the film, I don't know what else she would have done. I thought what she did in Julia pretty much eclipsed almost anything any actress has done in recent years, but even by the standards of I Am Love, this feels like a whiff. Still: it's at least an interesting failure (for me), and it's trying to do infinitely more than virtually any other movie in the Best Actress conversation, and if it occasions more interesting debates about Kevin and brings more people to Ramsay and Swinton's other work, then I'm for the nomination.

@Pretentious: We, too, are on remarkably similar wavelengths. The film's anxieties and then its weird arrogance about ethnicity sat badly. I wish I could appreciate its stance about troubling "whiteness" as a category but it just comes across seeming like a white star got a role for which he is ill-suited in more ways than one, and then gets to end it with his little "The soul of Hawaii runs in these veins!" speech. Gimme a break. Notice how by this time, the opening monologue about how tourists and idiots all thing Hawaii is this emerald dream-place have been supplanted by the film's fawning location shots of Hawaii as... an emerald dream-place. I can't even keep going there on The Descendants. Watching its success with so many critics is like watching an ambiguously talented and openly lazy trust-fund kid get into Harvard.

Completely agreed on Beginners, Cranston, the Best Actor field, and Oscar (and critics' group) voting being oddly myopic. Am mostly with you on Redgrave, though she got that Howards End nod without almost any precursor attention, either, so we'll see. Only think we disagree on is that I liked Jones's performance better than Olsen's, especially if you grant that the only half-likable charisma of Jones's work makes the film more interesting and that Olsen is clearly the more instantly charismatic performer. Anyway, if we had to recruit someone from Sundance, I think Adepero Oduye was the belle of that ball.

Thanks for such a long, generous comment!

1:21 PM, December 30, 2011  
Blogger CCW said...

@Nick: I completely agree with you. How about a Jennifer Tilly-style sneak-in nomination?

8:26 PM, January 01, 2012  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

Great comparison case! Tilly was more of a "name" than Stoll is, but not in ways that always served her well, and her reviews were more uneven than his. The lineup she penetrated was just as porous and just as frontrunner-defined as this one, too. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

9:04 PM, January 01, 2012  
Blogger Michael Patison said...

I agree with most of what you have down.
Picture: I don't think Midnight in Paris will make it. Allen hasn't had a film nominated in the category since Hannah and Her Sisters in 1986, not even Bullets Over Broadway in 1994. I think that it will be replaced by The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. If it goes to the max 10 nominees, I wouldn't be surprised to see some movies like Drive and The Ides of March show up. Harry Potter might even be there if they go for the nomination for the whole series sort of thing.

Director: I agree with everybody but Bennett Miller. I think that Steven Spielberg will be there instead. If anybody else gets on, it's going to be Allen because of his reputation.

Actor: I think Gary Oldman will finally get on. I really liked Shannon, but I don't think Take Shelter will get enough notice. I don't think DiCaprio was good enough to warrant inclusion, but the Academy loves him so who knows. Seeing Ryan Gosling take Fassbender's spot with either Drive or The Ides of March wouldn't be surprising. Personally, I am frustrated with the lack of press that Hunter McCracken is getting for his sensation debut in The Tree of Life.

Actress: I pretty much agree. I'd rather see Tilda Swinton in place of Glenn Close but I honestly think you're right. Unfortunate.

Supporting Actor: I agree that Christopher Plummer is pretty much the winner right now. I think he or Albert Brooks should win. Then I'd prefer Viggo Mortensen and Max von Sydow to Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt. Knowing full well that he won't be nominated for lead, why not nominated Hunter McCracken for The Tree of Life? They've done it before with Tatum O'Neal and Timothy Hutton. Alan Rickman may even be nominated if they really want to reward the Harry Potter franchise.

Supporting Actress: I think that you're probably spot on with your prediction here. That's unfortunate. I much preferred any one of Jessica Chastain's three great supporting performances to having McTeer be nominated. If they're worried about a vote split, why not nominate her for Take Shelter or The Tree of Life.

5:04 PM, January 02, 2012  

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