Sunday, November 04, 2007

Naked Gold Man: Fear of 1999 Redux

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

Previously: The Supporting Actress Stock Shortage

I’ve never met an Oscar devotee who didn’t have pet peeves about or outright disdain for some element of the whole circus they stay enthralled by. With the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and their external “fans” for lack of a better word -- it’s not really the right word – Oscar season, night, nominations, wins inevitably lead to a love/hate relationship. Dedicated long term viewers develop pet years where they feel especially grateful to the Academy for surprisingly good decisions, a particularly satisfying nomination that wasn’t a foregone conclusion or indelible moments within the actual ceremony but, flip side now, they’ll also have the bizarro version of all of those things: decisions that continue to rattle one’s psycho with their boneheadedness. Certain years haunt like clingy unwelcome poltergeists, always threatening to wreak havoc in the repeating, tossing good films to the side violently and sliding mediocrities into the center and forefront. 1999 is just such a year for me. I always fear that its specter will return. Will 2007 go there?

I’ll be more specific. There’s a solid block of cinephiles and critics who praised 1999 to the heavens at the time for its wide array of “masterpieces”. I was less enthusiastic about the year as a whole having reservations about many of the hosanna’d but there was no denying that the films people became wildly enthusiastic about were worth discussing and contemplating, even if you fell on the negative or reserved praise side of the divide. What a vivid array of films the Academy could choose from: Fight Club, Eyes Wide Shut, The Iron Giant, Run Lola Run, All About My Mother, Being John Malkovich, Election, Three Kings, American Beauty, Magnolia, The Insider, The Straight Story, Topsy Turvy, Boys Don’t Cry, The Blair Witch Project to name a dozen or so of the year’s most loved/argued about pictures, an all you can eat buffet of real cinema. The Oscars saved room for fast food.

Read the Rest... I fear for No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood


Anonymous said...

If we're using '99 as an axample, then AMPAS will choose the film which makes the most personal impact like American Beauty did for many. I think NCFOM will be snubbed over There Will Be Blood (even if TWBB ends strangely). It sounds more difficult to emote with.

By the way, have you read Atonement or any of the books most of these films are based on?

Anonymous said...

I think you're looking at more of a 1996 situation where the Academy was forced to honor a variety of more daring movies, and Fargo, Shine, and Secrets and Lies all made the list, and even the sweeping epic is somewhat independent.

Let's see, that would mean...

English Patient = Atonement
Fargo = No Country (Duh)
Jerry Maguire = American Gangster or Charlie Wilson's War or Sweeney Todd(Big Studio Slot)
Secrets and Lies = Juno or Into the Wild or Once(Small film)
Shine = There Will Be Blood (Artsy but still accessable choice)

RJ said...

Very good points all...though I have no issue with Magnolia being statue-less.

par3182 said...

i just read your updated best actress predix - imagine how excited i got when i saw the lovely laura linney in the #1 spot

i love her


rural juror -i have some issues with Magnolia myself... but I give it props for ambition
I just find it's absurd that PT Anderson is such an also ran with Oscar. For Boogie Nights alone he ought to have easily already been in possession of one of them thar golden boys.

anon I have read Atonement but not the other books in the running.

michael c it'd be nice if that's what we're looking at but in order for them to be "forced" into honoring the daring stuff (heh) the mainstream stuff has to suck. and I don't think that'll be obviously the case. but if we're going with 96 I say Michael Clayton already has the Jerry Maguire spot. Right down to the name title ;)

par in re: to Linney. I hope her team pushes hard. If people love her in The Savages how hard could it really be too win? Christie has already won an Oscar. Cotillard is subtitled and though it has plentiful Oscar hooking power it's still foreign and Linney has an entire career worth honoring. Page, Blanchett, Knightley, Jolie, etc... can't see any of them winning even if they're nominated.

russtifer said...

All we need is another repeat of '99. Say it ain't so, Nat. I will remain optimistic with you, but knowing how our good ol' AMPAS functions...

Andy Scott said...

I've been pretty optimistic about this year's race just because last year's ceremony went pretty well.

But they're bound to do something stupid again. I fear the wrath of Sean Penn and Into the Wild. Now that would be a waste of space.

Anonymous said...

Surprised to see you drop American Gangster from your Pic line-up. Just read about the great BO over the weekend, which might help it stand out from the other fall releases with their struggling BO.

And if Ridley Scott gets his 4th nom, there could be some sentimental pressure to reward him with a win. Besides, the movie's American, historical, about real people, very much a guy film and it stars someone they love (Denzel). Heck, sounds like a winner to me! I've not seen it, since it doesn't open in Aus till January. While Atonement is my most anticipated, it's an English movie and a love story, and English movies don't usually win.

Your Actor line-up looks great to me. But I have my doubts about Linney, cos Fox seem so goddamn quiet about promoting The Savages. Are they going to push Juno instead? Hopefully people will start talking about The Savages once it's released, but you'd expect some chatter about it now and I wonder if Jolie hasn't got a better shot at the nomination instead.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and is Into the Wild really looking so good for a Pic nom? Going from the book (pic's not out in Aus for a few more weeks), McCandless was a divisive character with as many people thinking him a naive jackass as respecting his individuality and communion with nature. I can see the Academy just not "getting" him and the movie being largely snubbed, except for Cinematography and Supp Actor.


i have my doubts about into the wild yes. but i have my doubts about all of them except michael clayton and atonement

i meant to see american gangster today but i just didn't get there. i might put it back in.

Glenn Dunks said...

The Kite Runner? Seriously. Yeesh. That trailer was enough to turn me off. I guess that's The Cidar House Rules spot, huh?

Anonymous said...

Your should fix the comments(7.8.9)in your best actress predix.

par3182 said...

as much as i'd love the lovely laura linney to win, julie christie's oscar is an unbelievable 42 years old - must be getting rusty by now

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you're not overestimating Michael Clayton's chances. I think I liked it at least as much as you did, and I gotta believe it's lack of emotional punch is gonna hold it down. There's only one rule about Oscars that I feel is constant and it's that members vote with their heart and not with their head. And although Michael Clayton has a scattered few scenes that get the blood pumping, I think the film as a whole plays as more of an intellectual treat.

That being said, I think it could conceivably make it in, but I see it as having a tentative hold on the fifth slot, needing other films to fail so it doesn't get boxed out. If Charlie Wilson's War or Sweeney Todd or The Kite Runner hit, expect Michael Clayton to be relegated to supporting performances and screenplay.

Kurtis O said...

I just saw American Gangster, and it's sooo making it to the final five. They're going to eat it up. Not a perfect film, but a perfect contender. I'm also a bit nervous about Sean Penn and Into the Wild slipping in there. I thought the movie was pretty beautiful, but I agree, it feels too Seabiscuit or something. I would like to see Emile Hirsch get a nom though. He was great, and I love seeing young talent among heavy-hitters (although I'm pretty sick of hearing about Ellen Page). Hirsch would be a cool hat trick. On that note, I'd also venture to say Denzel is a lock for Gangster.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating article, which I can't help but nod furiously along with. Even though I love Cider House, I recognise that it took the slot of worthier nominees.

Sixth Sense I wasn't wild about, but I can see as a zeitgeist discussion piece it earned its spot.

But WHAT was The Green Mile doing in there?! And how did it get there? Even its enthusiasts weren't particularly vocal about its merits at the time.



Anonymous said...

Yes. You're right. This seems 99 since there was a lot of few indy and artsy movies dividing the votes and conventional films won from that. Although Cider House Rules was a Miramax lobby.
If this year is similar, Charlie Wilson's War or Michael Clayton could be this year The Green Mile, a film supported by a huge movie star and previous oscar winner. 3:10 To Yuma could be this year's The Sixth Sense.
But I still believe they'll love Into The Wild and Juno. This could only mean NCFOM could be replaced by lighter movies like Juno or Into The Wild or hits like Michael Clayton.
My predictions are:

There Will Be Blood
Into The Wild
No Country For Old Man or Michael Clayton

Glenn Dunks said...

I love that The Sixth Sense made it in, Green Mile and Cidar House not-so-much.


i was happy about the sixth sense making it in too --i think it's good that populist smash hits sometimes make it (well if they're good films that is --which that was. too bad about the rest of his filmography) but was trying to make a broader point. it's the tag team of Cider House and Green Mile that still baffles.

i'm so glad the designated Weinstein Miramax spot is no more... because after their first flush of Oscar successes (deserved) they totally spoiled the good will.

Anonymous said...

I will seriously be crying if James McAvoy doesnt get nominated this year. Especially if its because he's young. Not just because of Atonement, but for EVERYTHING he has done in the past.

Anyone seen "Rory o'Shea was here" (also known as 'Inside I'm Dancing')? He plays a punked youth, whose paralysed and is in a wheelchair. Sounds depressing, but its a hillarious bittersweet comedy. Heres the trailer:

How many Hollywood "greats" could pull of performances like that?

This guy can do anything.

adam k. said...

When I first saw the title of this post, I honestly thought it was about your fear of doing a 1999 FB "retro" awards, because it'd mean you'd have to give Swank a medal. But then I remembered that you'd already done that. Haha.


I think it'd be really funny if Juno became the indie Best Pic nominee, and The Savages became The Laura Linney movie instead of the ensemble/writer's movie/indie best pic it looks like. Especially since Juno is ABOUT Juno (Ellen Page) and The Savages is about all three Savages equally (or seems to be).

I just don't see Linney winning, though. Nominated, sure, but not winning. Honestly, I don't see her EVER winning. She just never surprises; she's too consistent. I suppose it could happen this year if people REALLY love the performance. But it just seems too light and predictable to me. Plus, it looks like the studio might be more behind Page, or will at least have to divide its resources when it comes time to campaign for the win. But we'll see.

Right now, I think a Julie Christie win is the most likely scenario. It's a way to honor both the film AND her career. Plus, she has that most potent resource on her side: her film is in love with her. The film makes you love her. The film makes you want to give her awards. I think that'll be the trump card (assuming she's remembered at all).

adam k. said...

And speaking of Away From Her, Nat, don't you think you're underestimating Olympia Dukakis? Just a little bit? If voters are checking out Away From Her, they might notice Dukakis and be like "why not?" now that the category's emptied out. She IS a longsuffering wife, after all (but I guess her actions sort of undermine the "longsuffering" angle).

I'm not saying she should be in the top 5, but currently you have her at #20. I think she at least has a better shot than people like Hayley Atwell, Tabu, and Leslie Mann, don't you?

adam k. said...

Oh, and it's true, Jerry Maguire totally = Michael Clayton. Except the former had killer box office and the latter is harder to love. Which I guess can't be good for its oscar prospects.

Anonymous said...

I see Michael Clayton coming in sixth behind this line up

- American Gangster
- Atonement
- Juno
- No Country for Old Men
- There Will Be Blood

I think reaction to Sweeney and Charlie Wilson is going to be too mixed for them to make it, and Into the Wild and Michael Clayton are going to be left off if Juno delivers on its potential.

Just felt like getting my predictions down on record in case by some fluke I'm correct.

Anonymous said...

I just feel like Charlie Wilson's War will bomb. I'm not too sure about Sweeney Todd.

I agree with basically all of your predictions.

Anonymous said...

nat actress wise yes page,knightley,christie,cotillard but the 5th spot could be blanchett,jolie,linney,berry or kidman.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just me, but I think 3:10 to Yuma will get in.

Brian Darr said...

I have a feeling that a lot of the people who loved Crash recognized its debt to Magnolia but felt it was just a more direct, less pretentious film. Aesthetic ambition doesn't tend to count for much with certain folks.

He says as he goes off to buy his tickets for tonight's benefit screening of There Will Be Blood...

Anonymous said...


Adam K - I think you're right to ponder about Dukakis for support, though truth be known, yes I think she'd have stood a better chance had her character not got laid. (I think that's what you're inferring anyways.)

Personally, Christie didn't do much a hell of a lot for me in that film; I thought Pinsent was the standout.


Sam said...

I would love to see Christie and Pinsent and Dukakis all get noms. And Hal Holbrook for Into the Wild.

adam k. said...

Yes, that's what I meant. Didn't want to include spoilers, though.

I also thought Pinsent was better, but Christie was very good too, and she's a legend and has the oscary, "you-will-fall-in-love-with-her" role, so she'll read the rewards.

This happened with In The Bedroom and Sissy Spacek when her character was far more unlikeable... so it'll certainly happen here.

adam k. said...

*read = reap

Jeremy said...

I think "Once" has a shot of being the top five. It's that little film that could. It could be this years "Little Miss Sunshine". I also happen to think it's brilliant.

Anonymous said...

99 on the brain your full acting noms nat would be nice.

Anonymous said...

I think There Will Be Blood is going to have more trouble than No Country For Old Men. The Variety review published today makes it sound like a masterpiece, but one that is going to be very difficult for the Academy to deal with. For one thing, I don't think they are going to go for a period Western with an "avant-garde symphonic" electronic score. Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano seem pretty good, but the rest of the prospects are rather shaky.

No Country for Old Men will be fine because of its source material. Last year pretty much ever American critical organization gave an award to Cormac McCarthy for The Road and the Academy will want their chance to honor him too. From the sound of things (and from the preview in which pretty much every snippet of dialogue that I heard was taken from the novel verbatim) the film is very faithful to its source material, so to not support it would be to reject McCarthy. To be honest, No Country for Old Men might be McCarthy's most continuously violent novel, but it is nowhere near as graphic as his masterworks, The Road and Blood Meridian, which feature graphic depictions of, among other things, child rape, scalpings, trees of dead babies, cannibalism (including one sequence where a dead baby is roasted on a spit) and other atrocities. If the bookworld can handle it, surely the Academy can.

Also, the Coens have a sense of overdueness that PT Anderson lacks. Yes, he has made amazing films, but , with the exception of Boogie Nights and the first 2 hours of Magnolia, they weren't really the Academy's scene. The Coens have been accepted into the mainstream in a way that Anderson hasn't and that should serve them well come nomination time.

Anonymous said...

If American Gangster gets nominated over No Country for Old Men I will throw up. It featured Ridley Scott at his most pompously self-important, an awards-mugging script from Stephen Zallian, Denzel Washington giving a pale imitation of his Training Day performance, and a lackluster Russell Crowe.

Seriously when are people going to wake up and realize that Ridley Scott is actually a hack? He has made only 4 good movies (Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise, and Gladiator) and while two of them, Alien and Blade Runner, are all-time classics, the other two are merely pretty good. The rest of his output is pretty awful (Kingdom of Heaven? A Good Year? Hannibal?). The mere thought that he has been given the right to adapt Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece, Blood Meridian, makes my skin crawl. He is probably my least-favorite director that everyone else seems to like.

Anonymous said...

I think some people ( excluding commenters 1-35 & 37) should definitely find a life outside of film, it's not that serious.


Brian I think you're right about that in regards to Crash but I don't have to like it. grrrr ;)

anon 1:26 good points. I considered that as well but right now my predictions are infused with both pessimism (I really loved No Country so they have to reject it ;) it's what they do. And optimism --haven't seen PTA's yet so I'm pretending it will be embraced)

and I just finished reading The Road a few days back. Blew my mind.

anon 1:48 thanks for sharing. I think most of us have directors like that. I agree that he's uneven but the first 3 of his "4 good films" that you mention redeem all for me. But yes as respected auteurs go it's an unusually bumpy resume.

anon 4:05 what possesses someone who isn't crazy about film to come here? You showed up AND took the time to read comments AND get indignant AND to actually comment. (Hee. My guess is you were searching for porn and "naked ... man" didn't deliver)


oh and for those who missed earlier 99 coverage bear in mind the awards index takes you to all the years I've done

Anonymous said...

Say what you will, but THE GREEN MILE is a damn near perfect film, and the best anti-death penalty film ever made. The ending gets me every time. Maybe I'm getting old.

Anonymous said...

To say you're going to throw up if a certain film gets nominated and call the director pompous ( whom I'm guessing that you probably don't know) Yeah I would say you're a bit of a snob and take things a bit too seriously.

Anonymous said...

Nat- I just think people are tired of all the negativity (I just try to ignore it). I understand criticism, but some people can be downright mean and immature. It’s really hard not to sound like a snob when you’re criticizing others, but there is a more mature way to criticize a film, performance, actress whatever than resorting to bashing. Gosh have you ever been to Hollywood Elsewhere? Those people are negative about everything; it reminds me of High School. I’m happy to say that the commenters on the film experience are not like that.

Not to mention that everyone has fans and their fans WILL come to their defense.

Catherine said...

I would LOVE Laura Linney to win. I'm really excited about seeing The Savages, judging purely from the trailer and that lovely poster it looks exactly like my sort of film. I can't tell if it's a substantial enough role to warrant a nod though... But the way she says " of social unrest" in the trailer makes me crack up everytime.

Anonymous said...

if they botch the major categories again, i would at least love to see assassination of jesse james by the coward robert ford and there will be blood get original score nominations. i thought the music for jesse james was great, and all comments on there will be blood single out the score. nick cave and jonny greenwood getting oscar nominations will make up for almost any of the crimes they perpetrate in the other categories.