Friday, November 21, 2008

The Wrestler is Coming

The first trailer to Darren Aronofsky's miniature gem has arrived

After my marathon movie day yesterday (Australia, Milk, Revolutionary Road) as well as earlier screenings (Doubt, Slumdog Millionaire) I've seen all but a few of the presumed Oscar giants (still waiting on: Frost/Nixon, Benjamin Button and The Reader). And having weighed the contenders I must inform that I'm still rooting for The Wrestler to displace almost any of them in the ring to sweat it out and do bloody theatrical battle for that coveted Best Picture title.

Even if their films aren't "Best Picture"s, Jonathan Demme (Rachel Getting Married) and Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) could be "Best Director"s, couldn't they?

The precursors will be upon us very soon. Each year I pray that the various Oscar Prediction Clubs will return to their founding purposes -- that is honoring the best films and performances of the year -- even if in so doing, they have to ignore the big ticket December films they've just barely screened and vote for things that are far less likely to be honored at the Kodak. But I've also been doing this for a long while now and I know better. The precursor nominations will be a mix of things that these guilds, clubs, associations and circles really do love and things they assume Oscar will love (a dependable percentage of which no one will care about in 2 or 3 years time). Some valiant cinematic efforts will be shoved aside for the latter. That's the way it goes.

But back to The Wrestler --I'm unsure if critics will rally unanimously given the other things they could throw their weight behind. And even if they do, I'm unsure if Oscar will bite given the low key nature of the film and its modest production values. But this is where I'm directing my prayers to the gods of cinema. I've given up hoping that Rachel Getting Married (more divisive than I thought it'd be) can find itself a miracle Best Picture nomination but I am still crossing my fingers that a brave non-predictive precursor body (do any still exist?) will at least honor Jonathan Demme's return to form as a director. It'd be so sweet to see him pull off a Mike Leigh Vera Drake style surprise nomination. But what are the chances of that?

Oscar Nom Predictions are currently being revised. You'll see the results tonight and tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I also really enjoyed The Wrestler – and more so with every day that has passed since the screening, now nearly a month ago.

Rourke is excellent and very deserving of his reserved slot on the Best Actor shortlist. But Tomei better get nominated too this year. She is the film's one grace note – a tough thing to pull off, especially when she done with such subtlety and humility.

I think it's shaping up to be quite the stellar season, no?

Frost/Nixon is quite MOR and pedestrian - solid 3-stat effort for me. Not much to recommend there - perhaps a sprinkling of Langella citations. But in what is shaping up to be a strong season, I'm not sure he's memorable or resonant enough to make Oscar's cut.

Anonymous said...

Also, am I the only one who feels sorry for Natalie Portman? She delivers the performance of her career (well, so far anyway) – and it gets a February release and her showcase is almost instantly forgotten.

Start Portman's Best Actress campaign, Nathaniel!

Anonymous said...

When saying "almost," who are you leaving out? ;)

Robert said...

Odd Directors In, in the past 10 years.

Julian Schnabel
Paul Greengrass
Mike Leigh
Fernando Meirelles
Pedro Almodovar
Ridley Scott
David Lynch
Stephen Daldry
Spike Jonze

makes me feel doubtful for Demme or Darren. but then who becomes the O.D.I. this year? Well if Dark Knight doesn't make the cut, probably Nolan, or if Ben Button doesn't make the cut possibly Fincher? Or maybe the all match up again.

Anonymous said...

the trailer makes it look tv of the week but i am sure it's not,how are wood and tomei nat r they supp actress possibles they need to make it up for wood after 03's castle hughes nom.

Anonymous said...

I still want to kill you all. No offence.


Robert... i'm not sure i follow why that particular list makes you think Demme and Aronofsky aren't likely.

what's the common thread you see?

amir uk stellar season? er...
doesn't look like it to me. For example. I have nobody that i really DESPERATELY NEED to give my gold medals too though someone will have to win them ;)

Anonymous said...

I assume you were pretty underwhelmed by Milk then, which doesn't bode well.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I don't understand the Rourke lovefest. I saw the film and really it seemed to me that Mickey Rourke was channeling Mickey Rourke. Down on his luck wrestler (actor) who keeps sabotaging himself.....


No, I liked it a LOT. was not underwhelmed. but it's not like it's not a biopic historic event + historic event + historic event with mimicry and the whole shebang ;)

still it's a pretty damn good one. I will be happy when it gets nominations.

adam k. said...

Sean Penn's "best in 13 years" sounds like a gold medal to me... not to mention the Hugh Jackman sexpot win. Unless someone in Milk has enough hot gay sex to steal the gold?

Actress must be more frustrating for you personally, though. Kristin Scott Thomas is still looming, no? She might just be THAT performance. Not to mention Kate Winslet in The Reader.

And here's hoping Benjamin Button is this year's "A" film... though I realize you haven't had one of those since 2005, and may never again : (

adam k. said...

And come on, there's still Heath Ledger, and Cruz + Dewitt + Davis to choose from in supporting actress.


ok sorry. I'm still upset about Australia :(

Robert said...

I think the common thread is showiness. Even when it's showy in its non-showiness like Mike Leigh. Also, if you're a foriegn name or a big name, you seem to have an edge.

Of course I don't think this discounts either Aronofsky or Demme to a certainty (though Demme seems more likely than Aronofsky).

But it's been hard to get into the heads of the Directors' branch lately, especially when directors who I thought would miss the cut (ie: Reitman, Gilmore, Haggis, Miller) have been making the cut.

Anonymous said...

The buzz on Benjamin Button seems pretty underwhelming to me.

Ot uh. You didn't like Australia, Nathaniel?

Anonymous said...

That's really disappointing to hear about Australia. You were one of the few pundits looking forward to it, and this is easily my most anticipated of the year.

What's wrong with it?

Catherine said...

When will you be posting grades?


probably tonight or tomorrow when i get the oscar predictions done.

Catherine said...

Coola! I'm kinda terrified, haha.

Anonymous said...

this must be annoying you (im dreadfully sorry) but i must know something about your thoughts on australia. its killing me!

adam k. said...

I'm expecting a C+ on Australia and a B+ on Milk. Rev Road I'm not too clear on. Probably somewhere in between...

adam k. said...

My feeling is that those who were shouting "Cold Mountain redux!" were not too far off.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a "B" for Australia -- liked it, but was disappointed (due to high expectations?). Though, I could see a "C" as well from him. Hope not though.

Anonymous said...

I had no expectations for "The Wrestler" before seeing this trailer, but it seems the movie has such a compelling story. Now, I can't wait to see it!

Have a nice weekend, Nathaniel!

Anonymous said...

I don't think Australia is this year's Cold Mountain - practically everyone in America expected this to bomb except Nathaniel and Feinberg.

Really want to know your grade!

Anonymous said...

That trailer for "The Wrestler" was very good. Can't wait to see the film now. I'll try to get over my personal feelings about Mickey Rourke (sleazy and homophobic) and just judge "the work" like I know I should.

And seeing three Oscar-bait films in the same day? I'd been in awards heaven, and I'd horde it over everyone I could for as long as I could. LOL. But then, I don't have the luxury of living in NY or LA to pull that off. For the people that live in the "real America," we're lucky to get the Oscar-bait films the month of the Oscars telecast.

NicksFlickPicks said...

Wow. I'm sort of way-into this trailer. Fingers crossed big time that Rourke and Tomei impress me as much in the movie as they do in these glimpses.

Jorge Rodrigues said...

Humm this year's best actress race will be all about star power and snubs.

Jolie seems likely to be nominated just because she's, well, Angelina Jolie, Mrs. Pitt, Embassidor for Good Will, Mrs. Pitt (again), mother of six... and because she was snubbed last year and because she is good (not great, but good) in Changeling.

Streep doesn't own the film just as much as Jones owns the play but Streep + Mamma Mia worldwide fondness + star power + greatest actress alive = nomination every time the Academy members can.

Winslet seems to be, in my opinion, out of reach this year. The Reader WILL give her the supporting nom, Rev Road WON'T give her the best actress nom (or at least i expect it won't although academy members are always bias on some things - like the fact that she has 6 noms and 0 wins...). I believe that an underachieved performance (she cries and screams and throws dishes and vases at everyone it seems xD but her character is not at all interesting) in RR will lead to a LOCK in supporting.

Hathaway, for me, is a sure lock for nomination. Star power, youth, great role, dominance in the screen (although the film is supposed to be based and to be enjoyed on a collective perspective) and well, it feels to be time to put a stamp on her. Oscary all the way.

Kristin Scott-Thomas. Nom is almost sure (Academy can't overlook her). Win? No chance.

Melissa Leo is out. She is outstanding but she is not well-known. And so... bleah.

Nicole Kidman is really wishful thinking. She is good, but she is not at all oscar-friendly. She has that superior air, that phlegm... I don't know why, she always seems cold to me. That's why The Hours is so great in so many levels.

Sally Hawkins? Lock for nom. I'm all for her. Everyone is pulling for her. She's incredible. She's funny. She's lovely. She's... oscary. She seems like it, doesn't she?

To Nat's consideration: the wonderful year of Michelle Williams can be awarded with a Best Actress nom? She seems really good in the picture.

And what about Julianne Moore? I know Blindness is much better as a book than as a picture (the book is excelent; one of the most beautiful i've read) but she carries all the picture and she is really good! Doesn't she stand a chance?

And Emma Thompson? And well, Hollywood runway model Keira Knightley? Don't they have a say on this matter?

I'm all too concerned about this category... But I believe the final five to be:

- Meryl Streep
- Kristin Scott-Thomas
- Sally Hawkins
- Anne Hathaway
- Angelina Jolie

P.S. The Dark Knight has been doing a quite silent campaign. Have they given up on the BP nom? I certainly hope not. I love the film and I hope that a riot is sure to come along to shake things up and remind the Academy that EVERYONE wants The Dark Knight on the ceremony as a BP nom! I really think that they can't pass on the opportunity to increase the ratings with this picture... even though they don't like it very much. Everyone liked this Batman.

Anonymous said...

I'm predicting a B/B+ for Australia and a B+/A- for Milk and a B-/C+ for Rev. Road.


Anonymous said...

wooowwww! Oscars.... please!

Anonymous said...

my grade predic for Australia was on the button. "B" it is

MKD said...

I am one of the unlucky folks who will have to wait to see 'The Wrestler'(my city's local art theatre tends to get films a bit late), but I am looking forward to it. I'd heard good word of mouth, and the trailer makes me even more interested to see it.

Alas, I agree that the Academy has a tendency to forget some of the smaller, but very deserving, films that get released, as well as those flicks that opened months back. But here's hoping that changes.


the random man i really hope that Oscar notices THE WRESTLER but I do think it was an odd choice to save it for December.

Every year December is crowded but this year is beyond ridiculous.


and now qualifying engagements for

and then all of these tiny films that have absurd one off nomination hopes -- one wonders what the heck they're thinking entering the fray while the 8 major releases above are sucking all air out of the room... they could have gotten a lot more critical attention in the spring or fall


i hate hollywood

i mean to some extent it's like this every year but this year it's worse.

MKD said...

Nathaniel - Holy shmoley, December is crowded. And the kicker is that, try as I might, I'll probably never be able to see the everything that merits a viewing. Though I've heard nothing but good things about Frank Langella's Nixon, I'll admit to being a bit worried about Ron Howard's direction. Though he's far from terrible, his direction has always struck me as a bit... pedestrian.

But I'd forgotten about The Brothers Blooom and The Class. From what I've heard, reaction to The Brothers Bloom is a tad mixed - though I quite like Rachel Weisz, and I might see it for her alone.

I love the idea of The Class, and I had a family member get to see it early in San Francisco. She said it was really quite good.