<-- poster concept art by Raats
The inspirational sports film is a regular staple of the multiplex. Most of them come and go with nary an Oscar blip. It's kind of the ugly stepchild within the family of stories Oscar really loves, the true story period piece. I expect this is because everyone thinks of these films as a formulaic paint-by-numbers subgenre that doesn't require artistry so much as predictable story beats, swelling music and one recognizable manly star (Quaid, Washington, McConaughey... take your pick). Every once in a while, though, this overly populated genre does attract Academy eyeballs (Chariots of Fire, Seabiscuit, Hoosiers) and if there's any pairing that comes with automatic prestige cred and appealing "important!" political background, it'd have to be Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman mixed with Nelson Mandela and South Africa.
It's guesswork. Maybe it'll be too light for the Academy.
Nothing is really screaming "sure thing" this year: Public Enemies is coming out in the summer and its digitally shot (an Oscar no-no), James Cameron's Avatar might be a thrilling and revolutionary behemoth but it's also sci-fi (definitely an Oscar no-no), Green Zone has the pull of both Damon and Paul Greengrass but it's also Iraq-concerned and so far that's been a turnoff for audiences/Oscar, Shutter Island might impress audiences but will it impress Oscar (I have some doubts), The Lovely Bones is based on a beloved novel but will Jackson pad the story too much, weighing it down?, Nine is the year's starriest picture but it's based on a superior film (I'm guessing. But it's a safe sort of guess, right, Federico Fellini being > than Rob Marshall... duh!) which could easily turn people against it. Nine's Oscar prospects... gah! Its strengths are its weaknesses are its strengths. The head spins.
Theoretically all this uncertainty should make the Oscar race more interesting in 2009. At least until December when we all be begin whining that it's entirely too predictable!
For my predictions, I'm going with four high profile pictures with a nice spread of release dates and studios, plus one small wonder people seem enthused about already, An Education. The 1960s London set story is based on a biographical essay by Lynn Barber. She seems amused by the changes they've made to her life. Many others seem amused by the whole film.
Also Posted: best director (I'm taking a big risk here) and the index of all predictions -- you can see how well I generally do with my predictions this far in advance on this overall chart. The plan is to wrap up with the remaining techs tomorrow. But now, EASTER celebrations with friends await! Must eat
green blue eggs and ham. And a Chocolate Jesus. yum yum.