Sunday, November 11, 2007

Naked Gold Man: Early Birds and Phoenixes

He's 13 1/2 inches tall. He wears only a sword. He's shiny. Everybody wants him. This is a new weekly Sunday series --my attempt to keep Oscar discussion corraled in the weekends until we're truly in the season.

Previously: Fear of 1999 Redux

In the early days of November the vast majority of movie buffs and Oscar freaks view the final two months of the year through rose colored glasses. That’s pleasantly optimistic (we all want new films to be great) but it doesn’t reveal the whole picture. ‘December is king!’ lenses have blindspots though they’re also not entirely blinding. The shiny gold man does prefer late year releases… just not quite as much as people think. He does have a type “fresh, serious, uplifting” but it's a type not a fetish: he doesn’t need it to perform, he can be turned on by other things. If the December glut of “prestige” films is at all disappointing, Oscar will turn his bald shiny head back to gaze fondly at warmer months. He’s done it many times before.

So which filmthings that are mostly written off now, can rise like phoenixes? These filmthings might be crushed by the December heavyweights. But a select few could soar back to prominence if they see a window of opportunity. Especially if…
  • The campaign is hardworking or brilliant
  • Voters are particularly fond of this type of achievement
  • Top Ten Lists and precursors put some wind beneath their wings
To revist the first 3/4th of the year -CLICK HERE


JC said...

I'm surprised you don't have the Assassination of Jesse James score even listed at all under the score category. I know it's all about trying to predict the Oscars here but while the film itself doesn't have much of a shot at Pic, etc, I think it has a fair shot at Best Original Score. Especially since it is the best original score I've heard this year so far.


fixed -was just an error

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article. Yeah, it will very be interesting to see how AMPAS handles “300”.

But why no mention of “Knocked Up”?

I think it’ll be huge at the Globes- although the HFPA’s “40 Year-Old-Virgin” shutout makes me a tad nervous. Still, I think the film and Heigl are locks for nods. And pending the Best Comedy winner (as well as the WGA strike) I think it has a serious shot at an Oscar nod for its screenplay. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

John T said...

Am I the only person that thought Casey Affleck was annoying (and not that accomplished) in Jesse James? Maybe I'm confusing character and actor here, but I found his performance far, far too calculating to make any sense against Pitt's superior enigmatic cowboy.

Glenn Dunks said...

I think I would die of happiness if Jindabyne scored a single nomination. I know it's almost a certainty that it won't, but... I can dream!

Nice to know you thought Linney was amazing even if you only gave the film a B.

Joe Reid said...

I still think Harris Savides has a decent shot at a Zodiac nomination.

mB said...

No mention of Ratatouille Nate? I know everyone sees it as a lock for Best Animated Feature, but what do we think of Brad Bird & co's shots at other noms?


RATATOUILLE is such a lock that i think it'll bring a screenplay nod with it. maybe score, too.

so i didn't feel it needed mentioning. if we didnt have an animated category i'd have even higher hopes. but we do so...

joe i would be thrilled to see Savides in for ZODIAC instead of AMERICAN GANGSTER but I'm worried they won't look back to March. I mean that film came out something like one week after last year's Oscars. too bad it's so rare for early year films to be successful with Oscar. Remember when Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins presented at the March 1991 oscars all flush with the huge success of Silence of the Lambs. One year later they were back accepting trophies for it?

adam k. said...


I think Casey Affleck is annoying in everything.

Anonymous said...

I do think that you are slightly underestimating Jonny Greenwood's "There Will Be Blood" score. From most accounts the score fairly in your face and one of the most praised aspects of the film's production. It's negatives are that its not by a previously nominated composer and that its "difficult" (i.e. electronic), but since the composer is Jonny Greenwood, aka the guitarist of Radiohead, I think it might be hard for the Academy to pass up the "cool factor" of nominating him. If the movie does manage to get a Best Picture nod (which I agree it won't) there is almost no way it doesn't get a Score nomination.

Also, on the topic of There Will Be Blood, if its art direction is as good as everyone says it is, I think it will get a nomination too. Jack Fisk (aka Sissy Spacek's husband) is possibly the most overdue art director currently working in the industry. While he hasn't worked that often he has done the art direction for all of Terrence Malick's films, Carrie, and Mulholland Dr. I think the Academy might finally have to nominate him.

adam k. said...

Oh, and I think Once will see a resurgence with its DVD release, globe nom, and top ten list placings.

It may not have "taken off" relative to bigger movies, but think about how much money it made on its budget. $150,000 turned into almost $10 million. It made roughly 60x its tiny budget. That's a LOT.

And I think Angie is stronger than people think, too.

adam k. said...

...but for entirely different reasons.

Anonymous said...

I'm all about Assassination... but I'm still agnostic about Affleck. I don't even think he'd make my own Top Five (I think Pitt is superior), though he is excellent. Even at this early point, my list looks like this:

1. Viggo Mortensen - Eastern Promises
2. Samuel L. Jackson - Black Snake Moan
3. Brad Pitt - The Assassination...
4. Emile Hirsch - Into the Wild
5. Case Affleck - Gone / Assassination

Since I haven't seen a couple major contenders, I expect Affleck to be bumped out. Still, an Oscar nom would be a great surprise.

Anonymous said...

All my favorites from the Early Birds are big long shots:

-Gordon Pinset - Best Actor for Away From Her
-Once - Best Picture
-Brad Bird - Best Director
-Leslie Mann - Best Supporting Actress for Knocked Up
-Superbad - Best Original Screenplay

Still, who would have thought City of God would have racked up the nominations it did? Those nominations always fuel my craziest Oscar hopes.

Anonymous said...

1. Right now, Casey Affleck gives my second favourite leading performance of the year (behind Sam Riley's great work in Control). And it would be great to see him get a leading nod. Not a supporting one. He's not supporting. He's not even a co-lead. (a la Blanchett). He's the lead. And, while this will never happen, a nomination for Garrett Dillahunt would be great too.

2. My problem with Angelina Jolie/A Mighty Heart is that it was viewed as a flop film that is largely viewed more coldly/intellectually than the academy likes (which is why I don't think we can rule Blanchett's superficial and empty work in The Golden Age out of the picture).

3. Won't AMPAS handle 300 the same way they handled Sin City? By completely ignoring it?

Anonymous said...

What about Jodie Foster?

Critics hated the movie (45% RT, 56 MC) but there isn't a single review that doesn't mention Foster's bravura performance.

It'd be easy to put an ad campaign together if they bothered to. I can see Foster's devastated face with Emmenick's quote "fiercely arresting performance" or Travers'" Foster is electrifying as ego and id clash".

If critics could see again what they thought about the performance, she could be revived.

-cal roth

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see some love go the way of Jamie Bell in Hallam Foe, but he hasn't got a hope. Ditto Stephen Graham as Supporting Actor for This Is England.

So far in 'Actress' I'm all about Cotillard and Russell, so - based on your article - I'll move swiftly away from that category for now.

However, the one performance we're writing off that I could see happening is Imelda Staunton. I see it getting traction for the following 3 reasons:
1) Residual Vera Drake goodwill
2) You just KNOW that BAFTA will get behind it
3) Increasingly the Actors' branch do get behind a genre performance you wouldn't expect them to notice (Depp in Pirates, Zellweger in Bridget)


jahs34 said...

Remember that Crash was released early too.

Colin said...

Btw Nathaniel:
You gave Alan Rickman's blurb to John Travolta, under the Supporting Actor category.

Glenn Dunks said...

Rob Anon, Hallam Foe is, I believe, getting a 2008 release, not a 2007 one. Unfortunately.

On the matter of 300, my theory is that if they ignored Sky Captain in 2003 when the process was actually kind of groundbreaking why would they honour 300, which wasn't even as well-reviewed.

In regards to John Travolta, perhaps I'm crazy but I actually think he will get nominated. Travolta may be popular with audiences but he's even more popular with actors (correct me if I'm wrong) and while critics may have been more negative towards him general audiences who didn't have a connection to Divine love him and I'm sure all his actorly colleagues thought he was a hoot too.

Casey Affleck has given one of my very favourite perfs of the year with Jesse James and I'm sure he's as great as I have heard in Gone Baby Gone, plus he was the best thing about Ocean's 13. What a year.

I think Savides will get nommed for Zodiac. Just a crazy hunch.

Anonymous said...

They'll have to seriously look at the spring and summer films this year, b/c the prestige fall films are droppin' like flies right now. There's a big problem when the most viable candidate going into the Oscars right now is "American Gangster" considering all of the dramas that had come before it lately.

Anonymous said...

I think Walk Hard should have a very strong shot at a best song nomination.

Anonymous said...

Pull down your pants!

Anonymous said...

Okay, here goes. I thought that ASSASSINATION was incredible. Absolutely the best thing I've seen this year and Casey Affleck? There is a tremulousness in that performance that is unlike anything I've ever seen. I’d give him the Oscar today. But you're all crazy if you think that movie's getting a single nomination. The 2007 western for the Academy is 3:10 TO YUMA.

gabrieloak said...

I agree with anon that though many film fanatics love Jesse James, the Academy is more apt to recognize Yuma.

This is a mellow year for Oscar movies. Somehow after The Departed's win last year, I think we're due for a feel-good film to win this year.

I'm still thinking Once may creep into Best Picture. I'm beginning to think Juno won't live up to its hype.

adam k. said...

What feel good film exactly is in the running?

Even if Once gets nominated, it ain't winning... though nothing would make me happier than for that to happen.

gabrieloak said...

You're right. There is no feel-good film in the running. Maybe Atonement is the closest because it's not as dark as the other front-runners.

Yeah, Once could never win but it would certainly be fun if it did...

Anonymous said...

If a "feel good" film wins this year, look out for "The Great Debaters". Everyone's sleeping on it right now, but it has all the potential to upset the anointed frontrunners ("Atonement", "No Country for Old Men", "American Gangster", etc.) with its "heart".

André said...

The best performance of the year: Ashley Judd in Bug. In her last scenes (I'm the queen!!) she's amazing, impressive, a total madness. She's the one i'm rooting for.

Anonymous said...

Zodiac is who I'm rooting for. What a great movie that was. I honestly don't think it has a shot anywhere though... maybe cinematography.

Robert Downey, Jr., Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Edwards are all very deserving supporting players. Downey's got the best shot, but I still think it's grim.


Anonymous said...

Here is what I'm rooting for.

VIGGO MORTENSEN - What a incredible performance in Eastern Promises! This actor is way overdue, and it is time that the academy seriously take a look at Cronenberg as well.

Zodiac - What a great movie! So suspenseful, intriguing, and engrossing. Unfortunate release date has put this release in contention.

Chris Cooper - Delivered a fantastic performance in Breach.

Josh Brolin - This guy has had one hell of year. Reminds me of Jake Gyllenhaal's string of great performances the year Jarhead came out. Hopefully the Academy takes notice of his wonderful, wonderful performance in No Country For Old Men.


y'all have such good taste.

given that ZODIAC seems to have a enduring vocal support, maybe it can manage a decent campaign? cross your fingers.

I will cry if Denzel's rather dull ungenerous performance in AMERICAN GANGSTER gets in over inventive deeply film lifting work like what's going on with Casey Affleck and Viggo Mortenson among others. and I like Denzel (happy he has two Oscars) ... i just don't get the fuss at all over one of his laziest performances. he could've made AG in his sleep. so i'm already worried about the upcoming actor shortlist.