Friday, December 28, 2007

Now Playing: Delusional Oscar Hopefuls

It's here, the last weekend of the year. Or as I like to call it "the annual slaughtering of the movie lambs"... a bunch of random movies inexplicably surface in an already flooded marketplace in some delusional bid at Oscar glory. Meanwhile everyone ignores them in favor of watching Nicolas Cage do his blockbuster shtick (really America? Yeesh) or discussing real Oscar contenders that have already started expanding.

exception to the rule
There Will Be Blood -Paul Thomas Anderson's latest intimatepic is a real deal PICTURE though this might not go as far as people hope with Oscar. Even if AMPAS voters embrace it, it seems like a likely Best Picture shut out --something along the lines of a They Shoot Horses Don't They? or a Hud or even a Children of Men... pictures that they'll recognize as great (who wouldn't?) but that they can't quite go all the way with because they have this hangup about "warm" movies. Which it's not. Plus, Paramount probably erred slightly here opening it up so long after No Country For Old Men giving that film ample time to cement itself as the consensus critical darling. We might have had a real war for that crown if this had entered the popular discussion earlier. Oscar ballots are, remember, just delivered.

Magnolia (1999), P.T. Anderson's last conceivably Oscar-bound piece, also tried its hands at the late December game (though a bit earlier, premiering before Christmas). It drew some "masterpiece" citations but had to settle for 3 nominations (screenplay, supporting actor, original song). There Will Be Blood could follow suit with something like (screenplay, lead actor, original score) but we'll hope that it's more of a force. The technical elements are quite attention grabbing.

non contenders in contenders clothing
The Bucket List and The Great Debaters sweet talked their way into Oscar-punditry consciousness with NBR and Globes mentions, but it's probably game over in both cases now that they're in full view. And, again, the field is already set. That happened a few weeks back.

the delusionals
Honeydripper -Gee... way to bury a John Sayles film, Emerging Pictures. December 28th. Sure you wanna do that?
The Orphanage
-This is the Spanish horror film that they want you to think is Pan's Labyrinth Two. I really was going to see this today. The last time I tried (at the NYFF) I had some sort of unusual rush hour train delay and missed out. Today I had a complete and total train stoppage (rare) on my second attempt. I'm not a superstitious person by nature: I'll walk under a ladder or smile if a black cat crosses my path (so cute!) but two strange train incidents on the way to the same movie. I'm giving up. I have too many other movies to get through before my 'year in review' rundown.

other stuff
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem -no comment
Water Horse: Legend of the Deep -no thanks


Jason Adams said...

I saw The Orphanage for you today, Nat! You didn't miss a lot. It's a solid little ghost story but nothing that's gonna blow anyone's mind. Kinda The Others meets Pan's, with a little Devil's Backbone thrown in. But... not really as interesting as any of those three. But a nice throwback; it felt sorta old-fashioned in the best sense. Just with a eensy bit of spectaucular gore thrown in. Which rocked, btw ;-)

J.D. said...

I really wanna see There Will Be Blood. But the regular problems (lack of closeness, lack of good movie parent) apply.

March 9, 2010 will be the greatest day in the history of the world for me, yes it will.

gabrieloak said...

No, The Orphanage is not as startling as Pan's Labyrinth but it's a neatly done first film and I was impressed by the performances of the lead actress and the young actor who played her son.

Anonymous said...

something along the lines of a They Shoot Horses Don't They? or a Hud or even a Children of Men... pictures that they'll recognize as great (who wouldn't?) but that they can't quite go all the way with because they have this hangup about "warm" movies.

Unless I am misunderstanding what you mean by "warm", your assessment doesn't seem fair. The year Children of Men was shut out, for instance, Little Miss Sunshine is the only eventual BP nominee that I'd describe as "warm" (and even that with reservations). Sure, exceptionally bleak films often get little Oscar love, but so do those that the Academy considers insufficently serious (in either style or content). I agree there is a bias, but it clearly works both ways here.

Anonymous said...

Oh and as a side note, I'm sorry to say that I wouldn't call They Shoot Horses... all that great. Despite actors' best efforts, the screenplay never gave me a reason to care for any of the characters braindead enough to willingly take part in such a humiliating enterprise as the dance marathon was presented. In terms of its social commentary/satirical aspect, the movie said all it had to say in the first twenty minutes and then only kept regurgitating it. Until the ending, which in turn I found random out-of-character (for both involved parties) act put there for the sake of being depressing. (cathartic? deep? Neither worked for me.)

Anonymous said...

I know you've commented many times about the insanity of Dec. release dates, Nate, and it seems particularly true in the case of TWBB. I haven't seen it but I've yet to hear a negative word about it - and it's PT Anderson. Come on, folks. (And directing Daniel Day-Lewis, no less. Instant cineaste nirvana.) But why would the studio hold it back for so long, rather than give it a chance to win devoted fans? I can't wrap my head around that.


Anonymous said...

Blah blah blah. I want a full review of "Next," now that I see Ste. Julianne has received her very first F!!

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just the lack of good horror/suspense movie in American/Canada, I find the Orphanage on my top 10 of the year, and yes, i'm a sucker for a mother-child story. Granted, it's not a big movie or it has new concepts, but it's so well done in what it sets out to do, and the emotional pay off in the end is great as well. I actually have to say the Pan's not really the great film that people make it to be. I mean it's good, but somehow the ending is just dead cold, not tragic or hopeful, but just...meh...

Anonymous said...

i doubt There Will Be Blood has much of a shot for best pic, but it does have lone director written all over it -- almost enough pic support, and other pic likelihoods with the sort of directors who get skipped over (Juno, Michael Clayton, Diving Bell)