Wheeeee. Precursor Oscar season. As you may have noticed from all the "B"s in the sidebar I've mostly enjoyed the intended Best Picture hopefuls but haven't been blown away. That is to say I think the eventual Oscar lineup will be solid (there don't seem to be any embarrassments being treated like godsends) but I still really hope Oscar looks back further than December if they feel similarly underwhelmed. I mean let's get real: The Visitor --which I don't even love as much as most people-- is just as good as many of them. It's just not as anointed as Future Oscar Player. It lacks the scale they like. There's also Rachel Getting Married, WALL•E, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Happy-Go-Lucky which are also better than some of the big ticket entries not to mention that one superhero movie people went crazy for. Why must precursor bodies and the media accept the studio release decisions as proof of worth? But wait. I'm getting way ahead of myself.
I ramble and I worry about the destination but I'm so glad we've begun the journey. Aren't you?
Best Feature Ballast, Frozen River, Rachel Getting Married, Wendy & Lucy and The Wrestler
Best First Feature Campos -Afterschool, Jenkins - Medicine for Melancholy, Zalla -Sangre de Mi Sangre, Rivera -Sleep Dealer, Charlie Kauffman -Synechdoche New York
Best Director Ramin Barani -Chop Shop, Jonathan Demme -Rachel Getting Married, Courtney Hunt -Frozen River, Thomas McCarthy -The Visitor
This is the second time already (following The Satellites) that Frozen River beat The Visitor to a Best Picture citation while McCarthy was nominated for director. Isn't that quirky? I thought The Visitor would have more awards oomph than Frozen River. Also: I really must see this Ballast movie. It leads the nominations, tied with Rachel Getting Married and Frozen River, all with six nominations each but I expect The Wrestler might win the top prize despite the odd omission of Darren Aronofsky in the director shortlist.
Lead Male Javier Bardem -Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Richard Jenkins -The Visitor, Sean Penn -Milk, Jeremy Renner -Hurt Locker, Mickey Rourke -The Wrestler
Supporting Male James Franco -Milk, Anthony Mackie -Hurt Locker, Charlie McDermott -Frozen River, Jim Myron Ross -Ballast, Haaz Sleiman -The Visitor
It's worth noting that Hurt Locker, the long awaited (well, by me) return of director Kathryn Bigelow is not eligible for the Oscars. Indie Spirits have different eligibility requirements. Hurt Locker will be distributed by Summit Entertainment but we don't know quite when. I expect Mickey Rourke wins this without breaking a sweat. The Oscar will be a tougher get.
Lead Female Summer Bishil -Towelhead, Anne Hathaway -Rachel Getting Married, Melissa Leo -Frozen River, Tarra Riggs -Ballast, Michelle Williams -Wendy & Lucy
Supporting Female Penélope Cruz -Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Rosemarie DeWitt -Rachel Getting Married, Rosie Perez -The Take, Misty Upham -Frozen River, Debra Winger -Rachel Getting Married
Big big love for Rachel Getting Married with all three of its main ladies up for prizes. Who wants to bet that Debra Winger shows up to the ceremony. Nobody? Yeah, y'all are too smart.
Depending on whether you think AMPAS voters take the Indie Spirits as "reward enough" for smaller films or as a rowdy youthful "suggestion" or just ignore them altogether today's announcements are either bad news, good news, or indifferent news.
Which do you think they are?
P.S. my Oscar prediction pages are being updated (right this second) to reflect precursor citations that have already started rolling in.
P.S. 2 For a complete list of the ISA nominations, you can click here.