Saturday, January 03, 2009

National Society of Film Critics & More...

We're coming to the last wave -- make that trickle -- of critics awards for 2008 (thank god almighty we're free at last!) but this is an important one. The National Society of Film Critics have spoken and they're practically bouncing on trampolines with "Poppy" herself, they loved Happy-Go-Lucky so much...

Best Picture: Waltz With Bashir
Best Director: Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky
Best Actress: Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
Best Actor: Sean Penn, Milk
Best Supporting Actress: Hanna Schygulla, The Edge of Heaven
Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Marsan, Happy-Go-Lucky
Best Screenplay: Happy-Go-Lucky

IndieWire has more details if you're interested. I'm pleased to see all the support for Mike Leigh's film since I love it, too. The ads for Slumdog Millionaire describe it as a "buoyant hymn to life" but if that blurby phrase describes any movie this year, surely it's Happy-Go-Lucky?! Four things about this latest batch of awards spring out immediately:
  1. Between WALL•E taking the Los Angeles prize and Waltz With Bashir taking this one, it's been a banner year for critical support of the animated form.
  2. I've underestimated the possible Academy support of Happy-Go-Lucky (they've embraced three previous Mike Leigh efforts). Could Eddie Marsan actually have a shot at the fifth spot in Supporting Actor? Right now it seems like a toss-up between James Franco & Dev Patel with Michael Shannon siphoning off crucial votes but could we get an actual surprise nominee? Big surprises don't happen often but you never know.
  3. The season-long critical backing of Sally Hawkins (my interview with the actress here) should cement her place in the Oscar Actress line-up... and yet... and yet... that category is still very difficult to measure for a number of reasons. In any year when there's a lot of contestants in play this late in the game, you can sometimes end up with big surprises. Think 2003's Best Actress lineup which confounded every pundit and probably surprised the nominated and the snubbed, too, once the names were read.
  4. Since most Oscar ballots are returned to the Academy in the first week and they were mailed out 9 days ago this doesn't have much direct influencing power beyond underlining the critical mood, which is very pro-Happy...
In minor critical news the Oklahoma group announced just before Christmas so we forgot to mention it (who has time to think about what's going on in Oklahoma while wrapping presents? Unless that's where one purchased them). They went crazy for Slumdog as many critics organizations had before them. They gave it Director, Picture and Adapted Screenplay. Expect it to continue to fight it out with Benjamin Button for winning the most Best Picture momentum. Heath Ledger won his billionth posthumous supporting actor prize for The Dark Knight. Sally Hawkins (her name gets ever more familiar) took Best Actress. And, like most critics groups who chose Mickey Rourke over Sean Penn for Best Actor they threw Marisa Tomei their Best Supporting Actress prize for The Wrestler. It seems to be a two-for-one deal with those two for prizes which leads me to believe that Marisa Tomei is safer for an Oscar Supporting Actress nod than we'd previously imagined.

If you think you're free from awardage, think again. The Guilds start announcing in full force on Monday. They're the best indicator we'll get of the Academy's mood this year.
*

26 comments:

Arkaan said...

What, no snark for Happy-Go-Lucky's near sweep? I'm actually quite happy to see the film so successful because it's a strong one.

Leigh's in for screenplay, and best director just got a lot more interesting.

Anonymous said...

Are there more producers who are members of the Guild than of AMPAS? I suppose (almost) everyone is a member od the Guild. So doesn't that make the Guild awards (actors' included) more important? Maybe I'm all wrong. Any thoughts? (or specifis numerical info?)


Jim

Kent said...

Yay for Sally Hawkins ! I finally saw HAPPY-GO-LUCKY and am overly enthused about her. She gets my vote, if I had one, for Best Actress. Great momentum at the right time where ballots are still out.

I'd like to believe Mike Leigh's screenplay is in the running, but it's going to have to beat out IN BRUGES (Globes helped its chances in a big way) and THE VISITOR. MILK, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, and WALL-E seem set. This category is filled with unique glories.

Can SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE actually win Oscar's top prize? I do not find it at all Oscary, judging by their past preferences.

Arkaan said...

Yes. Most Guilds have more members then the academy division represented. Keep in mind that to work in Hollywood/for a studio as an actor/writer/director etc, you likely have to be part of a guild (a union). The Screen Actors Guild has something like 100,000 members, but the corresponding branch in the academy is around three thousand, as an example

Does that make them more important? Up to you to figure out, really. Keep in mind that most people who work in the guilds aren't the famous people who get screeners and go to important previews, but are the bit part actors who waitress on the side, or the commercial directors or assistant directors or third directors, or are breaking in or are semi-retired without ever making it big. Additionally, they aren't always located in LA or New York. And often they are motivated by different things - the Producers Guild often recognize big hits regardless of quality (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Harry Potter) for example.

What the guilds are good for in terms of predictions? If a smaller film has a good run it could mean something (see The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), ditto a foreign produced film (thanks to protectionism, and don't underestimate it: Into the Wild benefited from all the Guilds, but Atonement was the film that snuck in at the oscars).

RahulB said...

Interesting note on Best Picture, Wall-E tied with Happy-Go-Lucky for 2nd (3rd?) place.

I really hope this means good things for Wall-E...

RahulB said...

I meant on the National Society ballots...at least according to Awards Daily.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Arkaan. :)



Jim

Bernardo said...

I don't know if I should be doing this...

I turned 17 an hour ago (and I'm kinda drunk which is probably why I'm doing this)

Could I have the Best Cinematography FilmBitch being announced soon as some sort of present XD?

RC said...

that's alot of happy-go-lucky...

i keep on wondering if the critics are giving it enough momentum to produce some surprise oscar noms...

i'm all up for some surprises!

YH said...

Thanks for the note about Hanna Schygulla. Maybe I'll look her up on Wikipedia later.

Viva Sally Hawkins! Woot!

Kamikaze Camel said...

Unfortunately all these awards haven't translated into box-office, where Happy-Go-Lucky still only sits on a fraction over $3m.

Now that I've actually seen this City of Slumdog movie (otherwise known as The Constant Slumdog) I find it's sweep so bizarre. As Nat alludes to, if they wanted real feelgood fare why not Happy-go-Lucky?

NATHANIEL R said...

bernardo i'll see what i can do -- although that category is always tough. there should be 10 nominees each year, don't you think?

I hope you live outside the US. Otherwise you're breaking the law with the booze! ;)

mrripley said...

best actress will be

jolie
streep
winslet
hawkins
hathaway.

Kamikaze Camel said...

I still think Leo will scrape in over Jolie, much like Samantha Morton did in 2003 over much bigger competition.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see Michelle Williams instead of Leo or Jolie. I'm surprised she only won in Toronto. It's a terrific, underappreciated performance.
I hope she'll get at least FB nom.

NATHANIEL R said...

i'm still worried about Blanchett showing up... and though I'm not "worried" about Winslet being snubbed per se, i still think that's a possibility too.

things be so crazy!

Dean said...

I think there is a very small chance that Eddie Marsan sneaks into the Best Supporing Actor nominees. Maybe I just am to delusioned because I think he deserves it, but here's how my brain works: Since many academy members will have Heath Ledger in their first spot, weird things are more likely to happen with the preferrential system. I actually think that if someone puts Marsan on their ballot at all it will be number 1,2, or 3. So even though say James Franco might be on more ballots,I think Marsan could snatch up that 5th spot with the higher votes. But probably not.

Paulo said...

I just don get what people see in Williams. She is an average actress, she did nothing special, I mean, can she do a composition work? Still she is like some critics darling. Exactly what H. Swank was in 1999. The diference is that Swank is actually better then Michelle Williams.

NATHANIEL R said...

Paulo, what do you mean by composition?

Paulo said...

something like

Jessica Lange as Patsy Kline, or Meryl Streep in a cry in the dark, or even what Swank did in Boys dont Cry. A character driven performance. hope you understand what I mean.

gabrieloak said...

Well Williams in Wendy and Lucy is all about a character driven performance.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who's better and who's talented. I just know which ones I like.
I'm not good at all at reviewing, but "Wendy and Lucy" is the film I probably "connected to" the most this year. Williams is perfect in this role: she paints her character in the way that makes it possible to understand every single Wendy's choice. I particularly liked the way she acts when she has to talk to people (in opposition to the way she behaves when she is with her dog) - as if she was afraid of making any contact with them. She knows she needs help but she is too self-conscious to ask for it: phone call to her brother is a masterpiece.
Howler

Styx said...

Cate Blanchett would be a very deserving nominee for "Benjamin Button." More deserving this year than Meryl Streep even. But I have no idea who I'd add her in at the expense of. I think that Sally Hawkins is in regardless. I'm worried b/c some have said that no screeners are out for "HGL", but someone has to have seen this film, if only to see what the fuss was about with Hawkins winning all these critics awards (and to see Mike Leigh's new film). If anything, she'll have many #1 votes from the British voters that should seal her nod. I don't think there's room for both Angelina and Cate, so my five for now are:

Cate Blanchett, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"
Sally Hawkins, "Happy-Go-Lucky"
Meryl Streep, "Doubt"
Kate Winslet, "Revolutionary Road"

If Blanchett isn't in, then replace with Angelina Jolie for "Changeling." Nada for Kristin Scott Thomas and Melissa Leo.

NATHANIEL R said...

Styx... I even have a screener of HAPPY-GO-LUCKY and I'm not top tier important -- that'd be the AMPAS voters ;) -- so i'd be shocked if they didn't have screeners.

I guess i'll never get the Blanchett thing. She's been totally deserving in some years but this year? I. don't. get. it. She's not even in my top ten this year. I guess the reason that I'm not wild about the idea is that at least a third of her performance is within the part of the movie i find the least effective (the hospital journal reading scenes) and the least Finchery. Honest to god it felt to me like the director was super bored during those sequences.

or maybe i was projecting.

I know a lot of people love this movie and I do love the ambition of it... but i think ZODIAC, SE7EN and FIGHT CLUB were all much stronger films. But then again non-baity directors don't generally get rewarded for their best work but for their most traditionally awards-friendly work. so i guess if i want Fincher's career recognized (i have wanted that for a long time) i'll have to make do ! ;)

So, GO FINCHER!

Styx said...

Well, the screener thing has been on a couple of sites, and that's the reason given for Sally Hawkins' SAG snub. I don't know what the Academy's received or not, but it would be pretty ridiculous for the best actress winner from NYFCC/LAFCA/NSFC to be snubbed completely by them. These people should have stronger radars than that, whether they've been spoonfed screeners or not.

As for Cate Blanchett, she's one of my favorite performances of the year, and I found her to be highly effective in all of her scenes, even the hospital scenes. I hope she's nominated for one of her best performances. I'd be fine with her getting in over Meryl too.

OccidentalOrientals said...

how is dev patel even eligible for supporting actor? i've never seen a bigger case of category fraud.