Thursday, December 09, 2010

12 Hungry Films (Plus: Black Swan Geek-Out)

My Oscar charts are in terrible need of reassessment but I've been devoting all my hours to working on the new website. It's a hungry beast. So, in the interim, you should check out my new article at Tribeca Film where I wonder about the 12 pictures that seem to have the most heat going into balloting season. 8 films have looked to be fairly settled for Best Picture nods for a couple of months now (The Social Network, 127 Hours, The Town, The Kids Are All Right, Toy Story 3, The King's Speech, Inception and Winter's Bone) but the problem is that there are 4 newer, and thus shinier, December pictures that want in (Black Swan, True Grit, The Fighter and Another Year). 8 + 4 10 so something's got to give.  Which films are most vulnerable? And will the Globes upset expectations, as they are prone to do, propping up a 13th or 14th option?


Many of you (here and offblog) have told me that I've been underestimating Black Swan's Oscar capacity and I tend to agree; just haven't had time to update the charts. Next week everything will need a major overhaul anyway given the busy awards calendar.

<-- Beautiful Barbara Hershey. Will any critics group acknowledge her unsettling maternity in Black Swan?

I had the pleasure of attending the Fox Searchlight holiday party earlier this week here in NYC and though four films were being honored, Black Swan was sucking up the oxygen. Otherwise James Franco was consistently surrounded by well wishers, journalists, and other industry types and Conviction's Sam Rockwell (see 'best in show' article) and Juliette Lewis (our fab interview) were in high spirits and on their way to a charity event after the party.

I had a geeky fanboy moment with Darren Aronofsky, who I had to share with a few other critics since he was so in demand for conversation. After thanking him for a filmography that's always worth writing about (a huge plus whether you consider the individual films follies or masterpieces), the group conversation somehow turned to top ten lists. He actually teased me about how high Black Swan would place in mine. 'Top ten? That's it?' he asked in mock disappointment. 'What, does that mean, like, #9? These things are important.' Funny guy who one expects would be über serious in person; blame those obsessively dramatic films that we've dramatically obsessed over for the past decade.

Glory of the 80s: Barbara Hershey's
consecutive Cannes Best Actress Wins
Finally, me being me, you can probably guess that I made a B line for Barbara Hershey the second I arrived. I had to tell her how great it was to see her in something high profile again and then we chatted briefly about some 80s movies. (Hannah and Her Sisters and The Last Temptation of Christ are, as it turns out, the movies people stop to talk to her about the most.) I brought up A World Apart and Shy People "It's not even on DVD!" she exclaimed about the latter. I co-miserated. I didn't bore her with this next bit but I consider it a huge failing of our modern film culture that even if you win Best Actress at Cannes (Twice!) your films can sometimes vanish from view entirely.

"You sweet girl."
When I said goodbye I told her that I hoped her phone is ringing off the hook post Black Swan. "Not yet." she replied.

Sheesh, what's a girl got to do for Hollywood to recognize her gift? Casting directors need to jump on that. She's still beautiful at 62 (Black Swan downplays this, given the terror implicit in her role, but in person it's a different story) and still a fine actress. Not that anyone should have doubted her ability after that special '84-'88 run, the Oscar nomination for Portrait of a Lady (1995) and this Swan dive into a major portrait in miniature. How can she pack so much into so little screentime as Erica Sayers? It's all there from lost dreams, to shut-in enabled demons through to the total negation of self. She's emptied herself out to make room for vicarious living through Nina. It's just too tragic that even her vicarious living is self sabotage, she's projecting failure every chance she gets.
It's the role, isn't it? I knew it would be too much for you. I knew it.
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23 comments:

Kevin said...

That's the kind of Black Swan love I was hoping for!

Rebecca said...

OMG, tomorrow can't come soon enough! (That's when Black Swan opens here.)

I still think 127 Hours is shaky for best picture.

Craig said...

Have to agree with you about Shy People, Nathaniel. The only love Hershey got for that performance in the U.S. was a best actress win from the Chicago Film Critics Association -- no nominations from any other major critic's groups. In hindsight, I'd argue that she turned in one of the top female lead perfomances in the 80s for that film. Too bad it wasn't more widely seen at the time.

SusanP said...

Always fun to hear about your geeky fanboy moments. Hope your holidays are going well!

Criticlasm said...

I loved her in Black Swan (the only movie I've seen twice this year - loved it again). And after seeing Rabbit Hole, I would love to see both her and Wiest nominated.

MRRIPLEY said...

I love reading about the times you meet stars 'cos you obviously have a genuine affection for well known faces who aren't angelina or johnny,great work on hershey,is she that good in black swan how is winona i read she stabs herself in the face in a uk interview she gave to empire film magazine.

thanks nat,lovely piece.

/3rtfu11 said...

Hollywood doesn’t give breaks to older women unless they’re non-Americans or Meryl Streep.

Andrew R. said...

Look at those 12 films.

I didn't think it would be possible for this year's nominee slate to be better than last year's.

Last year, we had 9 great nominees that also made my slate and one piece of crap.

This year, their Top 10 might not be my exact Top 10, but who gives a crap with nominees that good?

NATHANIEL R said...

criticlasm -- yeah. i wonder about supporting actress. It seems very "old" for lack of a better word this year. Nothing wrong with honoring seasoned professionals but the Academy doesn't usually play it like that. It seems unlikely that the category would be entirely 50+ given the academy's preference of younger women.

so i guess maybe AMY & HALLE will represent the under 40s... so at least one of the buzzy older women won't make it in.

JA said...

Nat, your proper conversation with Barbara Hershey has made me feel terribly ashamed about the fact that I wouldn't have been able to talk to her about anything other than Beaches if I ever met her. I would've shrieked "THE HAND-WALKING QUEER!" at her and been led out by security, no doubt.

Amy said...

Nat, Halle is 44.

Vince in WeHo said...

Nat >>

So you finally relented and placed The Town in the Top 10!

NATHANIEL R said...

Vince -- i did yes. But i don't get it. I liked the movie but a Best Picture level great it is not.

Amy -- i mean the Halle girl in the True Grit movie. I spelled her name wrong maybe? Hallie?

stjeans said...

If they choose a ''Monster Mother'' I think they will go for Melissa Leo instead of B.Hershey. The ''Bouffant Hairdo (or rather don't). The ''White Trashness''. The wardrobe. I don't know to me it's ''Scream'' Oscar Nod.. + they like to stick to an Actress for a couple of years & then ignore her (Glenn Close anyone?)forever & EVER!

MRRIPLEY said...

Seems like leo is beoming the frontrunner though adams will win it.

Kyle said...

First guess? I'd say that Winter's Bone and The Kids Are Alright are probably in the most precarious positions.

I mean I don't know much about anything really, but it feels like the TKAAR buzz has just dried up...

Volvagia said...

The i is before the l. Hailee Steinfeld.

NATHANIEL R said...

Kyle -- it does "seem" that way yes but my feeling is that the Globes are bound to celebrate it and thus reenergize it in time for Oscar ballots. I mean, it has to be considered the nomination leader for Musical or Comedy section, right?

Vince in WeHo said...

Nat >>

I totally agree. It was a solid effort. No desire to watch it again. Affleck still has a ways to go. Though, that chase scene was pretty awesome.

However, considering the level of its box office and critic reviews for a film of that genre (action with actual drama), I've been calling Best Pic for a while now.

However, along with Kids and Bone, It's a soft lock for me. All of your +4 still *could* make it in.

However, as it stands, I have True Grit and Another Year being left out of the party. That could change once I've seen them and, of course, after they're all released.

Anonymous said...

Barbara Hershey rules and everyone DROOLS

Anonymous said...

and by everyone I mean casting directors. Eff them.

Bryan said...

She DOES NOT look 62. Great, great actress.

Brooke M said...

Wow, Barbara Hershey looks great in real life. She looks so scary in that pic you've got up on your charts. I swear the trailer alone is enough for me to put her in my BSA line-up.