Monday, January 29, 2007

Will Little Miss Sunshine Shoot The Departed in the Head?

Scott Feinberg has a good piece up about why Little Miss Sunshine will win the Oscar. I'm not as convinced but it is my current guess as well and was before reading this. I just think it has the virtue of being a standout in the lineup. Not the best mind you -- My vote would go to The Departed -- but the standout. It has a feel good warmth that alludes the others and the other films seem more easily narrowed down to a particular strong element rather than a 'whole' package. The Queen is The Mirren Show. Babel is all about its multi-continent message and sprawl. The Departed is Scorsese doing his crime thing to great popcorn effect. But Little Miss Sunshine? It's a whole package. How do you separate its elements?

In truth either The Departed or Little Miss Sunshine as a winner would be delightful because it would be Oscar finally trying something different. Honoring a pulpy crime flick or a straight up goofy comedy? Unthinkable. Which is exactly why they should think seriously about doing it. I've updated the Best Picture page with detailed comments and the current prediction.



Anonymous said...

What are your thoughts on why Iwo Jima is less likely (or doesn't stand out)? I haven't seen it yet, but doesn't it seem the most best-picturey?


not to me.

it's in a foreign language and it's very ponderous and slow. i think it's a good movie but I'm not sure what would push a large body of voters to vote for it beyond the fact that it's a Clint Eastwood movie. --so that said. it does have a chance.

But if they want a "message" film or something of serious import (issues of subjective quality aside) --why wouldn't they go with Babel which has more nominations and all the important ones and a GLobe win?

I'm really hoping it's The Departed/Scorsese but I'm having my doubts.

Poli said...

I dunno, I have this gut feeling that Iwo Jima will win Best Pic and nothing else, if only to piss me off.

adam k. said...

I am not really feeling LMS for the win. Maybe it's because it's my favorite, and I'm not letting myself get my hopes up. But I just think it's the kind of thing that will take everything but the big one. The way Apollo 13 seemed to do.

A LOT of people seem to want The Departed to win. And I think it'll be getting a lot of votes just by virtue of Scorsese winning director and people not wanting to think any harder than they have to. Also, I've said this before, but it' worth repeating: I think the reason why it isn't winning SAG and other things is that it doesn't get much of the female vote - it is a men's picture through and through - but I don't think it'll hurt that much with the academy. They always get all that flack for being old, white males after all.

And I also have a weird feeling about Iwo Jima. I think it could totally win. But there are just so many weird factors this year that it's impossible to tell. It's kind of awesome.

But right now, I say Departed wins. It has all the key elements in place: acting, directing, writing and editing noms, and likely wins in director and screenplay. It's the safe choice.

But that said, who knows.

adam k. said...

Also, even though LMS is my favorite, in a way I'd rather it didn't win. I don't want it to have to face the backlash and always be "that" movie that beat all the better, more serious films in 2006. Plus it's quintessentially about the idea that we don't have to win to be successful. So I think it could handle losing this one. A Departed win would be best for all concerned, I think, in the long run.

adam k. said...

Ugh, I just know that if it wins it'll be lumped together historically with stuff like Chariots of Fire and Driving Miss Daisy and Crash and I don't want that to happen.

Anyway. I'm done now.

Agustin said...

I'm also between LMS and The Departed.. and luckily, they are also my personal favorites..
If Letters From Iwo Jima or Babel win, I'm really going to consider turning off the Oscars for quite a few years.. I haven't seen Letters yet, but it's Eastwood and I generally don't like the ¨new ¨him. But Babel is pure shit, it's a better filmed Crash with an almost as crappy screenplay, script, story or whatever you call it. It'll be the 3rd year in a row in which one of the worst movies of the year take the oscar, it will really be unbearable, I can't stand this a fourth time. But i'm still young and this is the 8th oscar season I'm following, so maybe I'll try to be stronger, I don't know yet.

I agree with you adam that The Departed is a better choice for EVERYONE, nobody will backlash this movie, it's Scorsese, and it's good, and it made a lot of money.

J.D. said...

Okay, now I know that I am like the only person who reads your blog who's vote goes to Babel. Am I wrong?

I actually think it's The Departed vs. Babel. I could be one of the only people who actually predicted Babel with certainty to win the GG, and it did. My vote is Babel, but The Departed is my no. 2 vote.

I'm taking the race as of last year.

The Queen is this year's Capote: a film that is brought up by the least performance and, to a lesser extent, a supporting. Also, least likely to win.

Babel is obviously Crash and The Departed is Brokeback Mountain: The ones that have the most chance to win. People predicted the latter, and EVERYONE did, but the former pulled a shock in every sense of the word.

*NOTE: I thought that Crash was the Best Picture of 2005, so it was the happiest day of my life. A little more than a week later, I was put in a psych ward. Seriously*

Now, Letters from Iwo Jima is both Munich and Good Night, and Good Luck: Winner of the NBR Best Picture and a surprise BP nominee.

Little Miss Sunshine is Sideways: Because it fits nothing of last year.

And Dreamgirls is this year's Walk the Line: Obvious reasons.

*ANOTHER NOTE: I actually thought BBM was the worst of the BP nominees last year. Or least best. That sounds nicer. Nothing against gay people, but the film was good, but not alter-placing excellent. Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams were excellent, though. Jake - adequate/pretty good.*

Martin Scorsese is this year's Ang Lee: Someone who directed the predicted BP, and was predicted the winner of this for, like, ever, but the picture lost shockingly.

So, as you see, Babel has a chance to pull a surprise. I think anyway.

*QUESTION: Nat, could you put me in the Blog/Press/Online endorsement section on your BP page? I'm trying as much as I can to rush the pic and Rinko. IT'S NOT ACTING!!!! It's emotionally draining, incredibly powerful singing!! Not acting!!!! Rinko4Evs!!!*

J.D. said...

Oh, and FYI:

MY BP OF '04: The Polar Express
NOMINEE: Finding Neverland or Million Dollar Baby

MY BP OF '05: Crash

MY BP OF '06 [Too This Point]: Children of Men [subject to incredible change]

I stand alone and cold, don't I?

Don't answer that.

I already know the answer ........

adam k. said...

Judge, I also predicted Babel for the globe for best picture, and was fairly certain it would win.

But I can't say I share your taste...

Glenn Dunks said...

"Martin Scorsese is this year's Ang Lee: Someone who directed the predicted BP, and was predicted the winner of this for, like, ever, but the picture lost shockingly."

Nah, that's not it. The Departed wasn't a big choice at the start of the year, even after it was released it wasn't seen as a guaranteed BP contender. And if the film does lose Best Picture then it won't be a shock at all.

I keep going back and forth over what will win Best Picture.

On one hand I think it'll be Little Miss Sunshine because when people go to vote I think they'll go "Hmmm, it really was my favourite of the lot and it made me smile" and then they'll also give it Screenplay and Supporting Actor. But then it doesn't have a Director OR editing nom and it's essentially a "sundance" comedy.

Then I think Babel could very easily pull a Crash and take it. Ensemblish cast with rising director and it does have the most nominations. But then I think "what else will it win?" Editing is likely, but that could easily go to The Departed or United 93. But other than that? Screenplay seems to be between Arndt and Morgan. Supporting Actress is a no and director seems highly unlikely. Even score is unlikely considering Santaolalla won last year.

And then I think The Departed and think that there is no precedent for giving a film like this the Best Picture prize. There is no message at all (not even a "family is important" one like in LMS). And the actors aren't on it's side as much as we thought. Didn't win at SAG and only got ONE nomination for one of it's cast (and that was Wahlberg over DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson!).

And then I think The Queen is the only one with nominations in Picture/Director/Screenplay plus a lead acting nomination. And then I think Iwo Jima is Eastwood and WWII and "important".

....aah. It is frustrating but very exciting though.

I hope they release Iwo Jima down here before the ceremony. Would love to have seen all the nominees.

Anonymous said...

Where's the analysis for "The Queen" and "Babel"?

I think that "Babel" has far more of a chance than people are giving it to win best picture, and a lot of that has to do with them not liking the film in the first place (just like with "Crash"). If voters can go for "Crash", then they can go for "Babel" too, especially with the real-life import of it all, the multi-cultural factor, and the most nominations of the bp nominees. "The Departed" will be Marty's show in director and that'll mostly be it I think (though I'd be fine with a picture win). "Little Miss Sunshine" just seems too slight to me -- I don't think I'll believe it'll win bp until I hear it announced on 2/25. I don't think that even the almighty Clint (gag me now) can overcome the foreign language factor in "Iwo Jima" (at least parts of "Babel" are in English and there's the Pittser there for celeb relatability). That comes back to "Babel". It has a strong chance to win bp outright.

Sid said...

The Departed is by far the best in the line-up IMO (the only nominee in my top ten) -- but I'd be fine with an LMS win because the film is, in fact, very good -- something I've realized after a second viewing (it seemed to get better).

That said, it's great that this year's BP race is all over the place, especially now that the acting categories are seemingly locked up.

adam k. said...

LMS really gets better once you just experience it on its own terms and let it wash over you. You can just tell everyone had a blast making it and its heart and its brain are both totally in the right place. And I just cannot give those actors enough props.

I also don't get why people hate the ending. It was the only possible ending that would've worked. And it did work. You basically just have to be along for the ride. If you're onboard and you're sharing in the film's momentum, it makes perfect sense. If you're sitting back distanced with ultra-critical lenses on, it'll seem stupid, but if you're in that mode, than you just aren't taking what the film has to give you.

Anyway. Can you tell that I LOVE this movie?

Anonymous said...

Something changed last year and I think Little Miss Sunshine can win even with "The Queen", Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson. Splitting the prizes between a few films would be a great way to say there's no frontrunner this year.
Little Miss Sunshine: Picture
The Queen: Actress, Screenplay
The Departed: Director, Screenplay
Babel: Editing

Andy Scott said...

I want to predict LMS, too, simply because it's so well liked. But what else can it win?

Beau said...

Don't give it to Babel. Please.
Either the Sunshine cadet or The Departed cops/criminals.
Not that there's a difference, anyway.
oy. I must be tired.

Anonymous said...

I just can't see LMS winning. I think this is just all the Oscar predictors freaking out about this years Best Picture race and trying to manipulate everyone into thinking that something is the frontrunner. I mean are we really using the PGA and SAG victories as barometers for success? I know this is a tough year, but neither of those have very good records when it comes to signalling out Best Picture. PGA's are important nomination-wise, but with recent winners like BBM, The Aviator, and Moulin Rouge, they are hardly good predictors. The SAG is even worse. They love movies like LMS even when they have only an outside chance at winning Best Picture (Sideways in the year of M$B and The Aviator anyone), but their recent track record is even worse. I agree The Departed isn't looking too good, but right now if I had to rank the nominees it would go:

1. The Departed: It is the best of the likely winners and it is winning Best Director.

2. Little Miss Sunshine: I feel I am only putting this here because the thought of Babel winning Best Picture a year after Crash makes me physically ill, but I do think it is gaining ground. It just doesn't feel like a "Best Picture", which I think will hurt it. It was cute, but nothing special.

3. Babel: Probably has a better chance than Little Miss Sunshine, but I hate Inniaratu and his stupid unnecessary fractured-time stories. It will appeal to a similar crowd that Crash did last year. The main difference is where Crash felt like a discovery that all the rich white liberals could tell their friends to go see (there is nothing better ofr these people than assuaging white liberal guilt except being in the know about something like a movie). Babel, on the other hand, has been touted since its Cannes debut and most people that I have heard that have seen it weren't that thrilled. Also, its slightly more subtle than Crash which is also to its detriment in the Best Picture race.

4. Letters From Iwo Jima: I seriously think this is undervalued. I think the Oscar predictors are pissed that this slipped in under the radar instead of Dreamgirls and made them all look like assholes (sorry Nathaniel, when I make derogatory comments about Oscar predictors I am thinking Tom O'Neill, not relatively reasonable people like you) for predicting as the winner ever since it was a twinkle in Bill Condon's eye. It also helps that this is the best movie of the nominees (I know this is a Clint unfriendly board and I actually think Scorsese deserves the Oscar this time, but Letters was, to my mind, better than the Departed. The thing about Letters is it missed out on all the precursors, partially because of Flags of our Fathers, and partially because of its last-minute release. If any movie could come out of nowhere its this one.

5. The Queen: It's the Helen Mirren show. It's an interesting docudrama, but nothing more. I just can't see this winning. Also, I think any Helen Mirren backlash will effect the movie in non-Best Actress categories, like this one.

Glenn Dunks said...

"I think the Oscar predictors are pissed that this slipped in under the radar instead of Dreamgirls and made them all look like assholes"

How are even people like Tom O'Neill assholes for predicting a film that had won the Globe, been nominated by the PGA, DGA and SAG and was in the running for lots of other prizes and was one of the only two possible contenders that was a period film.

Anyway. If Little Miss Sunshine wins, some people say it'll be silly because it's just a slight comedy, but isn't that a good thing? They've already turned their nose up at Dreamgirls for a nomination, why not the rest for the win? Why not make a stand and say "hey, ya know what? comedy ain't that bad afterall."

Maybe give other worthwhile comedies a leg up in the future.

Anonymous said...

I really don't want to entertain the thought of Little Miss Shitshine winning BP - but I've been thinking (as others have) that this is more and more likely as we get closer to Feb 25.

Logically thinking, if Traffic couldn't do it in 2000, Gosford Park couldn't do it in 2001, Talk to Her couldn't do it in 2002, Lost in Translation couldn't do it in 2003, Sideways couldn't do it in 2004 and Brokeback Mountain couldn't do it in 2005 (all screenplay Oscar shoo-ins) why does LMS, which is far inferior to all these films, have to be the 'indie' screenplay winner to finally take the big prize.

And yes Adam, if LMS wins BP, it will most certainly join the universally recognised hall of shame that includes Chariots of Fire, Driving Miss Daisy, Forrest Gump and Crash (although I quite like numbers 2 and 4 on that list!)

PS. Judge, I'm with you on this year at least - for me it's Babel for BP. And Almodóvar - oh he didn't get nommed! - Scorsese for BD.

Glenn Dunks said...

Well, that Chariots of Fire is clearly a film in the same box as Little Miss Sunshine. Against more Hollywood titles the Academy chose the small uplifting title.

Sid said...

Oh yea -- I didn't think of that. What else can LMS win? Just Picture and Screenplay is unlikely -- maybe one of the supporting trophies?

The Departed Pic, Dir, Screenplay, Editing makes more sense if you look at it that way.

Anonymous said...

Anyone's guess is as good as anyone else's right now, but for the time being, I'm going with The Queen. No huge logic behind it, I just see the others as more buzzed (the others have all won major awards for Best Picture), so could they split and The Queen take it all? Plus, The Queen is already guaranteed one win (Mirren), likely to win another (Original Screenplay), and could possibly win Original Score. But then that begs the question, with all this support in different areas, why hasn't it won anything major yet?

Anonymous said...

All things said - I'm happy for Breslin and her nom.

If only for the fact that she was mesmerising in 2005's Keane - and to watch that film and think the little girl in it is an Oscar nominee, is nice.

Although I'd still have Blanchett, Barraza, Lane, Kikuchi and perhaps Hudson over Abigail this year.

Anonymous said...

And Scott, as much as I'd like The Queen to take Original Screenplay - I think LMS has that one pretty much sewn up. My predictions - not that there's any much contention is any of the categories:

Picture - LMS
Director - Scorsese
Actor - Whitaker
Actress - Mirren
Supp Actor - Murphy
Supp Actres - Hudson
Orig Screenplay - LMS
Adap Screenplay - The Departed
Cinematography - Children of Men

zzzzzzzzz. . .

Emma said...

Sincerely hopes The Departed gets in there!

Anonymous said...

The Departed could well end up this year’s Silence of the Lambs. Think about it- what propelled Lambs, a genre piece concerning an FBI agent tracking down a killer who skins women with the help of a man who eats people- (whose ending delivers a message that evil can prevail)- to win over the conservative Academy?


1. The public! The Departed, like Lambs, was a surprise box office hit. Remember Lambs even won the freakin People’s Chocie Award!

2. The DGA which Lambs suprisingly won. It’s still the best forcaster of Best Picture ( foret the oldtimers neglecting to see a certain classic last year) and The Departed has that prize all locked up.

3. Departed is all about the boys but most women I talk to loved it and Farmiga’s presence will not go unnoticed. Kinda how Clairce won over the ladies.

4. The critics. Between Picture and Directing honors, Departed has popped up at almost all the major critics orgs. (Except LA- which also snubbed Lambs)

5. Silence was all over videostores and TV before the big show. On Feb. 13 Departed will be too. Last minute vote grabbers.

6. It lost the Globe. Well, so did The eparted- but like Lambs- it still walked away with one major win. Hence, no one’s burned out on Departed victories.

Little Miss Sunshine is cute but it’s victory would shock me more than any of the other films. At least right now. If anything takes down Departed it will be Letters from Iwo Jima. (Remember how they went nuts for The Last Emperor?)

Current Prediction: The Departed
Alternates: Letters from Iwo Jima, Babel


Departed, you make good points.

It could pull it off yet. I question the logic going around that actors don't support it.

I mean Crash only got one acting nomination but that didn't equal no acting support.

It's very very possible that
Leo was in the Lead Actor lineup ahead of some others but got booted due to the no two films in same category for actors rule. And it's also likely that Nicholson was in 6th place for supporting actor.

again. I'm not totally convinced it's LMS's as some people are. It's just my guess for the moment.

I'd be really happy with a Departed win which is why i'm doubting it. It's extremely rare that my favorite of the five wins. It generally happens only one every 12-15 years or so and it just happened in 2003. I'm not saying the Oscars are all about me --ha ha-- but that's a trend like anything else (only it's only noticeable to me ;)

Glenn Dunks said...

But Silence also had the big five! It had two lead performances (Departed only has one supporting perf nominated) and it was an adaptation of a famous book, not a hong kong action movie that wasn't that famous to begin with.

I reckon it's got a shot, but there's plenty of reasons to say it doesn't.

Also, Nat, saw you got quoted in the SanFran Chronicle. Although I found it funny that they quoted you right after questioning the Lead nominations for Streep and Whitaker which you yourself have as leads. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

You forgot Blanchett?

Anonymous said...

I dunno... I've worked extensively with The ACADEMY (insert "dum-dum-DUUUMMM!" here) in the past and knowing them and their constituency, I think Babel may bag the golden boy.

Academy members all ask each other what should win and when you stick a group of (still) desperate-for-acceptance actors, directors etc.. in a room, everyone names the film that they think will make them seem smarter / more PC / more globally conscious.

That would be Babel.

Also, Babel is more confusing, so it makes them feel smart.

Nick M. said...

"I also don't get why people hate the ending. It was the only possible ending that would've worked. And it did work. You basically just have to be along for the ride. If you're onboard and you're sharing in the film's momentum, it makes perfect sense. If you're sitting back distanced with ultra-critical lenses on, it'll seem stupid, but if you're in that mode, than you just aren't taking what the film has to give you."

o you really want a Best Picture winner that completely falls apart under close scrutiny?

I certainly don't -- but apparently the Academy does.

This is what I fear the most about Little Miss Sunshine's very possible prospects to snag Best Picture. It just makes so much sense when considering what members vote for. Little Miss Sunshine is similar to Crash, despite thematic and narrative differences, because it seems to make people feel good (about themselves). The Academy members can self-righteously check it off on their ballot because, despite the fact that it is just as cartoonish and uninspired as every other shitty comedy, it is neatly packaged with a big, deceitful tag that reads INDIE. The Academy can continue to feel progressive this year by voting for the little, indie underdog (just like they did with a heavy-handed message picture), while completely being oblivious to the fact that the films they choose are not quality; their tags simply outshine the silly nonsense that lies beneath.

The film may have been tough to fund, and it may even deserve that title of being an independent film financially, but nothing frightens me more than mass audiences and the Academy believing that what they are seeing is truly audacious, incisive and truthful filmmaking.

"Anyway. If Little Miss Sunshine wins, some people say it'll be silly because it's just a slight comedy, but isn't that a good thing?"

It's not a good thing when the comedy is slight, trite and unfunny.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why everyone seems to hate Little Miss Sunshine. While I haven't seen Letters, it is far superior to the other two films (not The Departed which should win).

What is so bad about a film that makes someone feel good about themselves. Film is art - art is supposed to invoke a type of reaction: not the vomit-inducing reaction I had when I saw Crash.

LMS was an adorable film but it also had a lot of depth to it. It was fascinating to watch a film that never once took it's audience for granted - it just had a simple story to tell and it told it magnificently.

Why does everyone want some over-complicated, pretentious bullshit of a movie to win the Oscar? Why can't we have a sweet little comedy, or a raging gangster film.

If I was in the academy my vote would OBVIOUSLY go for The Departed - but it would be a close call between it and Little Miss Sunshine.

And why did they ignore Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear and STEVE CARRELL. At least Nat remembered...and I thank you for that.

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy that Nicole Kidman is going to have BOTH a promising indie AND a promising huge big bud. film( The Golden Compass) next year. I'm excited.

Anonymous said...

go to and choose who you think will win the Oscar

WickedScorp said...

THE DEPARTED should win. If LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE takes it, it would be a lovely surprise. However, I think IWO JIMA has a very good chance. Firstly, in this time of war, what better way to play on people’s emotions than with a film about the very human side of conflict. Second, it's Eastwood and Speilberg (which is ironic, because SAVING PRIVATE RYAN had the same moral, though it did it much better and should have won that year). The only thing I took away from BABEL were the two great performances by Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi. I stand alone, but apart from Helen Mirren, I abhorred THE QUEEN.