Friday, September 10, 2010

Oscar Predictions Revised: Picture, Director, Animation, Documentary, Sound

I'm working on revising the Oscar predictions. So far we've updated the extensive foreign film pages (yet, we're already behind again the news is coming so quickly), the animated and documentary categories, the aural categories like best score and song (I could use some help there -- offer it in the comments) and NEW best picture. And yes I know that many people believe that The Way Back will not be released in time. But I don't believe for a second that the current plans will keep.

About Best Director. After a banner year for diversity last year this year looks like a return to the standard. It'll take a while for cinema's burgeoning spread of voices to register on a frequent basis. If you fuse all my predicted nominees together -- that'd be David Fincher, David O. Russell (pictured left), Mike Leigh, Peter Weir and Christopher Nolan -- you've got a 54 year old white auteur with 9 films under his belt who has been nominated once before in this category and is generally perceived as overdue for a win. But why would you fuse them together? That's only something I sometimes do with statistics because I am weird.

I would have loved to predict Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan (because I am a fan* in general, though I haven't yet seen the film), but here's something I fear about the new 10 wide Best Picture system. Though it gave us a nice spread of genre and mood and consensus last year, I fear the noisy mainstreaming of that category will end up drowning out the hoopla for those left of center choices that the directorial branch sometimes honored in their gutsier moments. And if my fears prove correct going forward, that'll be a real shame.

Your thoughts and armchair punditry are welcome in the comments as always.

*fan not stalker. Which I must differentiate because a friend of a friend of a friend did point out his & Rachel Weisz's apartment to me the other day quite unexpectedly, even though movies weren't even the topic of conversation. The exterior was red. That's neither here nor there. I'm just sharing for a bit of organic blog flavoring.
*

55 comments:

Joe Reid said...

re: Documentary, "Exit Through the Gift Shop" and "Joan Rivers" are two of the best films I've seen all year period, and I have NO confidence in them making Oscar's list. Such a shame. Talk about two movies that go a long way towards dispeling popular notions of "stuffy" or "depressing" docs.

x said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James T said...

I strongly disagree re:Hooper. I think a nomination is locked.

And Weir is really iffy considering we don't know if the film will be eligible this year.

I agree 100% on the animated category.

x said...

But couldn't you argue that it was the 10 slots and preferential voting system that actually got smaller movies with passionate followings like District 9 and The Blind Side (not going to make a value judgement here) into the top 10 ahead of things like Invictus, which was mired in its own adequacy and was probably ranked toward the bottom of a lot of nomination ballots? I guess I'm an optimist, (and a wildly speculative one at that considering I haven't even seen the film yet) but I hope the craft of the movie and the reputation of the director and the lead actress will ensure it a small, but devoted fanbase within the Academy who are willing to rank it first or second on their nomination ballots.

(winning the thing is a different matter and yeah, you're right that it stands no chance at that)

Volvagia said...

I think you're overconfident in The Social Network because, well, I see what Eisenberg's doing in the TV spots and...I don't like it. Maybe the movie will be different, but it seems like he's being painted as the "Gideon" in this story, if you want to compare it to Scott Pilgrim. Also: he's used this exact lighting style 3 times already! (Se7en was very black, Fight Club played up grey, but Zodiac, Ben Button and The Social Network all play up a very deep, earthy mixture of brown and green. Let's hope Dragon Tattoo looks different.)

OtherRobert said...

I'm still holding out hope that John Cameron Mitchell can gain some momentum off a modern prestige project like Rabbit Hole and be nominated as director. I will consider it the Academy's formal apology for not nominating him in any capacity for Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Robert said...

At this point, I am wishing just so much that Scott Pilgrim VS the World gains some traction in the audio categories. The way the exquisite sound effects narrate almost every action in the movie without being overbearing is just so magnificent, and without it that movie would surely not have been as great as it was.

Robert said...

Oh! And according to Wikipedia, Rabbit Hole is going to be scored by Abel Korzeniowski. It was originally going to be Owen Pallett or something.

Rob T. said...

Minor detail with the scores: I Am Love mostly uses already existing music by John Adams, and is therefore (I'm pretty sure) ineligible for an original score Oscar. Otherwise, I'm enjoying your predictions so for and looking forward to the rest!

Jessica said...

(your words are in "quotes"):

I fear "the noisy mainstreaming of that category" will hurt the quality films too. But I would hope, after "quality winning out" last year, there'll be a repeat...or at least some more quality enegry in the voting.

PS: This is my first full movie year reading your blog prior to Oscar night. And I am loving it.

Jorge Rodrigues said...

And there you have it. Apparition handed over "THE TREE OF LIFE" to Fox Searchlight which scheduled the release of this new Malick film for 2011.

:D Hey, at least it's being released ;)

Jorge Rodrigues said...

Ah I forgot - news source: http://www.indiewire.com/article/fox_searchlight_acquires_tree_of_life_for_2011_release/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed#

Norman K said...

Hi Nathaniel...
The composer for
"Rabbit Hole" is Anton Sanko (TV´s Big Love)
"The King´s Speech" is Alexandre Desplat

NATHANIEL R said...

James T -- there are no locks yet beyond Toy Story 3 for animated feature. it's way too early for locks. especially for the films that haven't even opened.

x -- i suppose you could argue that. i just think that there is now more noise about the movies that have a possibility to be BEST PICTURE nominated and thus people might not pay as much attention the the movies that people don't really expect to have a chance there. so will we ever see crazy things like DAVID LYNCH for Mulholland Drive or the CITY OF GOD situation again?

NATHANIEL R said...

Norman and Robert -- this is why i'm saying "Unknown". I've now read three composers for Rabbit Hole. I wonder who it really is.

i've noticed that since composers are often the last player added to the team, that IMDB sometimes doesn't list them until long after the fact. it's frustrating. but i'm not a big enough music aficionado to know which sites cover film composition very thoroughly. I assumed The Playlist would but their things is more standard film news despite their supposed music focus.

Jessica -- thank you!

Jorge Rodrigues said...

I still can't believe we have to wait another year for THE TREE OF LIFE.

Well, at least it's finished, right? Since he's already in pre-production of his new one. So no director's cuts and revisions, no confusions.

Could it appear at Cannes or other festival?

James T said...

Well, yes, theoretically. But The King's Speech seems so good/baity that I actually don't even see why another movie would win best pic+director. I'm always careful with what I'm saying and I don't mean that it will win, I just don't see any contender with higher probability, yet.

I'm even a litle confused that you took him out of the top 5 now that the movie has been seen by some people and was loved.

I don't know why I'm being weird over this :p

rubi-kun said...

Some extra animated film possibilities you might want to be aware of:

My Dog Tulip
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
Evangelion 2.22
Redline
First Squad
Summer Wars (Now THIS should be in play! If the promised 2010 release comes true and there's 5 nominees, I can just see this being a surprise Kells-style nominee because it's simply that great)

Also hoping for Pilgrim in the sound categories.

Rebecca said...

I just can't shake the feeling that 'The Social Network' is going to not only bomb at the box office, but be completely out of consideration come awards season.

Volvagia said...

It'll get at least $150 million considering how HARD it's being advertised. For a film that cost $47 million, that's a success. But the OSCAR thing is not happening. As I said previously, A ROCK SCORE HAS NOT BEEN NOMINATED FOR ORIGINAL SCORE. THERE IS NO WAY A TRENT REZNOR SCORED MOVIE IS GETTING A BEST PICTURE NOMINATION.

Burning Reels said...

I'm with you Jorge. Shame we have to wait even longer for The Tree of Life but then, I'd imagine it's worth it - and awards-wise, perhaps it's better than hiding it away on a silly December 31 release date.

It's interesting Fox Searchlight have now picked up the distribution.Seems Apparition are in trouble - least they gave us Bright Star:)

Ambrož said...

Nathaniel: Never Let me Go has an original song ('Never Let Me Go' of course) that must be featured prominently in the film since it's in a scene in the novel. It's on the OST and there's a 30-second preview at iTunes store.

Max said...

In case you forgot it because you were crying (I know I did and was), here's "We Belong Together" from the end credits of Toy Story 3.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bw7ZjO-Nf5Q

I think it's adorable and catchy as all get-out but I know that doesn't always translate to Oscar.

Although the first two Toy Storys were both nominated for original song ("You've Got a Friend in Me" and "When She Loved Me," both written by Newman.)

Danielle said...

Original Song: Never Let Me Go has made an original song for the film (the song is where the film gets its title)

I think leaving Hooper out is a mistake - his film has gotten mostly raves and will also appeal to most branches of the Academy (all three main actors are looking to get nominated at this point). IMO, this is our BP winner - nothing else "makes sense."

Danielle said...

Original Song: Never Let Me Go has made an original song for the film (the song is where the film gets its title)

I think leaving Hooper out is a mistake - his film has gotten mostly raves and will also appeal to most branches of the Academy (all three main actors are looking to get nominated at this point). IMO, this is our BP winner - nothing else "makes sense."

NATHANIEL R said...

whoa whoa whoa people. you're thinking BP winner for something and it's only september and only a few journalists have piped in on KINGS SPEECH.

y'all are crazy ;)

remember: people always say crazy things at first screenings. like THIS IS IT will be nominated for best picture or PHANTOM OF THE OPERA will win best picture or SWEENEY TODD will win best picture or whatever and just as often as not nothing of the sort happens.

i think we have to wait till at least the end of Toronto, NY and Venice to think we have any frontrunners.

Casey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Casey said...

I've been a regular reader for a few years now and I strongly appreciate your contributions to the cinematic blogosphere, but frankly, Nathaniel, I think your assessment of the "diversity" of the best director field is bullshit.

You're judging the diversity of artists based on their race, age, and sex and not on the content and merit of their work. I think that's wrong and irresponsible both in terms of your judgment of the voting body and your opinion on what diversity means in this context. Frankly I think it's more prejudicial to refer to these men as run of the mill because of superficial reasons than it would be to actually have a lineup of exactly the type run of the mill middle-aged white men we usually see.

I find that potential list of nominees to be a very diverse category. That's five really interesting directors IMO, to the point that I would probably argue each of them to be an auteur. This obviously is debatable, but you have expressed admiration for at least 4 of them in the past and thus I think calling it vanilla is irresponsible.

NATHANIEL R said...

casey-- well i didn't actually call it "vanilla" but i get your point.

I am quite fond of most of those five directors.

Amy said...

Nathaniel, the composer for Rabbit Hole is indeed Anton Sanko. He will be at TIFF with the movie according to Evolution Music Partners, his reps. They were the first to release, exclusively on their site, that Rabbit Hole would be at TIFF some days before the official first TIFF film list was made public. I contacted them to clarify who was the composer because they rep Abel K, too and they confirmed it was Anton Sanko.

John O'Neil said...

Interesting that you picked True Grit for score. Isn't it kind of insane that Burwell has never been nominated?

No Bad Movies said...

The Way Back will get a 2010 release. Weir has admitted just at Telluride, it'd be silly not to as much crap they have had to go through to get it made and then find distribution. All it needs is to make one theater in December and it qualifies. I'm glad ( from the reviews I have read ) that Weir stayed close to the source material ( The Long Walk )The book was riveting.

Also The Tillman Story WILL be nominated. One of the better reviewed doc's of the year and personally my 3rd fave overall film so far. Non-sports fans might not be intrigued by the story but for those that didn't know... Pat Tillman left a multi-millionaire job as an Arizona Cardinals safety, and gave all that up to join the Army after 9-11. How many people do you know that would have done that ? And then he gets killed by his own troops, and our own government tried to cover it up. I saw it in May and it's a captivating and also frustrating movie going experience. It's very moving.
And on the Animated front... don't count out Legend of The Guardian: The Owls Of Ga'Hoole. Just from the trailer, that's some of the best animation I have seen, plus it has a good voice cast and a cool story.

Luke said...

Another possible addition to Original Song - "Lay My Burden Down" from Get Low. It's got the Robert Duvall hooplah on top of previous Oscars performer Allison Krauss crooning. What are it's odds Nathaniel?? I actually really like the song...

Glenn said...

Do we really see Rabbit Hole evening opening in 2010? I don't. It's looking for a distributor at TIFF if I read correctly.

Also, as for Original Score... well, I still say to keep an eye on Mao's Last Dancer. It's been cited by multiple awards bodies, is exotic, the film is music-related and it's doing pretty well at the US box office for an foreign yet english language film that isn't British.

Glenn said...

PLEASE predict Jacki Weaver for Best Supporting Actress. Kris Tapley has her at #6! Maybe if people actually see her being predicted they will be forced to see the movie she's in.

silviabroome said...

Nat, you can forget about South Korea this year. They chose the movie that has absolutely no chance at all.

James T said...

Glenn - I think it's hard for Weaver. Maybe as hard as it was for Swinton last year.

And even though predicting her might help, it would turn the predictions to "wishes" which would make things completely different.

bbats said...

What made Seabiscuit a nominee (and totally rewatchable) is that its beautifully shot. Secretariat on the other hand...well just look at the trailer.

Volvagia said...

That was with 5. With 10? Quite possible. But it needs to be a hit more than any other contender (except maybe a summer slot. Sorry about The Kids Are Alright Nat, but I think DVD blow outs after dissappointing theatrical showings are 1:2000 shots. And we don't even know if that event would be able to influence The Academy at all, especially since the DVD release could be after the voting period is OVER. Take I'm Not There: Theatrical release: November. DVD release: May. Month math on The Kids Are All Right if it gets the same time gap: February.

Bill_the_Bear said...

As Rob T. said, the John Adams music for "I Am Love" is not original; it's all taken from already composed works. Adams didn't write anything specifically for the movie.

I'm sure it's a l-o-n-g shot, but I still think Alexandre Desplat's score for "The Ghost Writer" is one of the best of the year.

NATHANIEL R said...

James T -- have you seen the movie? If they will only watch it she has a *very* good shot at a nomination.

Volvagia -- why on earth would THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT have that type of gap when the studio pushing it is very aware of how to campaign for Oscars? Watch it get a DVD release during voting on the precursors. November and December releases always have a longer gap to DVD if they're in the awards race.

NATHANIEL R said...

volvagia -- also i think it's an exaggeration to call the Kids are all right a "blowout" $19 million is not a bad take at all for adult-oriented drama nowadays. especially with non bankable stars.

i mean The Hurt Locker only made $12 million ;)

NATHANIEL R said...

bill & rob -- i'll have to update that. thanks.

James T said...

Nathaniel - I haven't seen it but I know Weaver and the whole film seem able to impress the Academy (or anyone) and indeed, "Julia" was not that well-recieved (I forget that because I loved it) but... will they see it?

Volvagia said...

I said "DVD blow out." Like what happened with Fight Club, if you need clarification. And I say disappointing box office because, well, Little Miss Sunshine, a similarly quirky disfunctional family "indiewood movie" was 4 years ago and got 3x that at the domestic BO. Unless tastes really are changing that fast and, if so, bad on our culture.

Andrew R. said...

Secretariat is NOT a Best Picture nominee. Film Misery's head saw it and said he didn't think it was Oscar bait, even with a "Blind Side" slot.

Michael W. said...

Hey Nat, just some info to the foreign category here from Denmark.

The committee has chosen three films they will watch again and then chose one of them on September 23rd.

The prison drama "R", Thomas Vinterberg's "Submarino" that was in competition in Berlin, and Susanne Bier's "In a Better World" which will play at Toronto IFF.

Glenn said...

"Maybe as hard as it was for Swinton last year."

Except Julia made, literally, $65,108, played in a maximum of only 4 cinemas in May and barely received any press whatsoever.

Animal Kingdom has made over $600,000 so far, is playing in 56 cinemas around the entire country (not just NY and LA) and has been receiving press non-stop since it came out of Sundance (where it won an award).

Yes, it will be hard to get Academy members to see the film, but the supporting category doesn't look too wide at the moment and if a couple of critics awards give her the prize then the nomination is hers for the taking.

NATHANIEL R said...

Andrew R -- i seriously doubt anyone thought OSCAR BAIT when they watched The Blind Side for the first time ;)

it's all still speculative.

RC said...

I noticed your way back predictions (and comment here in the post) and I hope you're right! This could provide some nice texture to the award season & I'm ready to see Peter's film.

Rob T. said...

Some notes on your "best picture" predictions, beginning with a couple of disagreements:

"The Weinstein's lost that Miramax mojo some time ago." (What about The Reader?)

"...they prefer his [Mike Leigh's] period pieces." (The only Leigh film to be nominated for a "best picture" Oscar to date is the contemporary film Secrets & Lies. Leigh has been nominated for "best director" twice, once for Secrets & Lies and once for Vera Drake (a period piece); both of these films also received nominations for their screenplays, along with Topsy-Turvy (period) and Happy-Go-Lucky (contemporary). Given this split, I'd say AMPAS very slightly favors Leigh's contemporary films, at least when they deign to notice them at all.)

I'm inclined to agree with most of your predictions for "best picture" so far except for the sports movies and maybe The Way Back (unless it gets a late-year Oscar qualifying release). The two boxing films that won "best picture" Oscars both broke new narrative ground (Rocky by setting its inspirational story in a believably gritty urban context, Million Dollar Baby by focusing on a female character and by not shying from a controversial resolution); a third that arguably should have won, Raging Bull, broke new formal ground with its dazzling slow-motion fight sequences. The Fighter may be a worthy film, but it's not going to be nominated for "best picture" unless it delivers a new twist on its genre. That goes for Secretariat as well, plus I can't imagine "best picture" being its only nomination.

Finally, I'm puzzled by your contention that "Oscar tilted mainstream last year." Any mainstream that includes A Serious Man and District 9 must be pretty broad indeed! My idea of a mainstream-tilting set of "best picture" nominees is the 2008 bunch, consisting of four variably serious-minded "prestige pictures" plus Slumdog Millionaire. Had AMPAS stuck with five "best picture" nominees last year, the lineup might have been equally "mainstream"--say, The Hurt Locker, Precious, Up in the Air, An Education and The Blind Side. Instead we also got the two cult classics mentioned above, the first animated nominee in 19 years, and two very different originally-conceived heavyweight movies to challenge The Hurt Locker.

Post-finally, remember also that though AMPAS's membership skews old, its membership does change over time too; the film-savvy "film brats" are respected elders by now. The AMPAS that gave honorary awards to Roger Corman last year and Jean-Luc Godard this year isn't likely to honor the same sorts of films that the AMPAS of 20 or 40 years ago did.

Finally for real, I think the preference voting system AMPAS uses for nominees is likely to favor movies with intense followings (even if non-mainstream) over more traditionally "prestigious" movies like Invictus or Nine that attract respect but not much love. Or to put it another way, don't give up on Black Swan just yet!

Rob T. said...

Some notes on your "best picture" predictions, beginning with a couple of disagreements:

"The Weinstein's lost that Miramax mojo some time ago." (What about The Reader?)

"...they prefer his [Mike Leigh's] period pieces." (The only Leigh film to be nominated for a "best picture" Oscar to date is the contemporary film Secrets & Lies. Leigh has been nominated for "best director" twice, once for Secrets & Lies and once for Vera Drake (a period piece); both of these films also received nominations for their screenplays, along with Topsy-Turvy (period) and Happy-Go-Lucky (contemporary). Given this split, I'd say AMPAS very slightly favors Leigh's contemporary films, at least when they deign to notice them at all.)

I'm inclined to agree with most of your predictions for "best picture" so far except for the sports movies and maybe The Way Back (unless it gets a late-year Oscar qualifying release). The two boxing films that won "best picture" Oscars both broke new narrative ground (Rocky by setting its inspirational story in a believably gritty urban context, Million Dollar Baby by focusing on a female character and by not shying from a controversial resolution); a third that arguably should have won, Raging Bull, broke new formal ground with its dazzling slow-motion fight sequences. The Fighter may be a worthy film, but it's not going to be nominated for "best picture" unless it delivers a new twist on its genre. That goes for Secretariat as well, plus I can't imagine "best picture" being its only nomination.

(To be continued....)

Rob T. said...

(Continued from last comment)

Finally, I'm puzzled by your contention that "Oscar tilted mainstream last year." Any mainstream that includes A Serious Man and District 9 must be pretty broad indeed! My idea of a mainstream-tilting set of "best picture" nominees is the 2008 bunch, consisting of four variably serious-minded "prestige pictures" plus Slumdog Millionaire. Had AMPAS stuck with five "best picture" nominees last year, the lineup might have been equally "mainstream"--say, The Hurt Locker, Precious, Up in the Air, An Education and The Blind Side. Instead we also got the two cult classics mentioned above, the first animated nominee in 19 years, and two very different originally-conceived heavyweight movies to challenge The Hurt Locker.

Post-finally, remember also that though AMPAS's membership skews old, its membership does change over time too; the film-savvy "film brats" are respected elders by now. The AMPAS that gave honorary awards to Roger Corman last year and Jean-Luc Godard this year isn't likely to honor the same sorts of films that the AMPAS of 20 or 40 years ago did.

Finally for real, I think the preference voting system AMPAS uses for nominees is likely to favor movies with intense followings (even if non-mainstream) over more traditionally "prestigious" movies like Invictus or Nine that attract respect but not much love. Or to put it another way, don't give up on Black Swan just yet!

Rob T. said...

Oops, I got an error message the first time I posted my long comment and assumed it failed to go through, which is why I broke it into two parts and posted them again. Sorry I failed to notice! How do I delete the superfluous comments?

pat555 said...

just to let you know: i got to see "legends of the guardians" the other day - and the animation really is amazing. plus the (very child friendly) story is quite touching and the voice cast brilliant. if it does okay at the box office, it should have a good chance of replacing the awful "shrek forever" in your top 5. it better...