Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Oscar Race Begins on November 6th

That's just 5 days away. That's the (un)official start date. I'm declaring it. It used to be the NBR's announcement of their top ten list but with more and more awards groups clamoring to yell "first!", "first!" has lost virtually all its meaning. Or rather, it's meaning has changed. It now means "We're desperate for attention!" ...though maybe it always did. So, Nov. 6th is the day...

...since that's when a lot of folks will get their first look at Precious ["for you consideration..." in virtually every category save Best Actor and Supporting Actor. No, Lenny Kravitz's male nurse doesn't count]. That's when that particularly buzzy contenduh goes from being a movie with deafening hype and buzz (huzz? bype? hypzz?) to being a real thing, a movie audiences can react to in a less abstract, more honest and less controllable-by-campaign-and-hype way. As it should be.

[tangent] I always find it strange when people call me an elitist (I assume because I generally prefer unravelling female protagonists to superpowered men in costumes?) because I'm actually populist at heart. I demand that cinema of all types readily available to the masses! The Oscars are frustrating in this way because the type of films that matter to the Academy -- and to drama nuts like you (I assume if you're reading TFE) -- are ever more skittish about being seen, hiding in tiny little theaters in only the biggest cities, as if too many curious eyeballs would ruin their strenuous beauty.

If it were up to me you'd have to open by Christmas at the absolute latest in the top six to eight markets (something like that -- thus making you an actual release in the year in which you're asking for statues and top ten lists) instead of just Los Angeles by the 31st for a one week run on one screen. (I fail to see how such tiny in-name-only "releases" within a calendar year are any different in practice than festival showings which do not make you eligible). [/tangent]

On a smaller scale November 6th is when Best Actor contender Hal Holbrook emerges with the senior-wants-his-farm-back drama That Evening Sun. This promising debut feature from writer/director Scott Teems has other fine performances (particularly Ray McKinnon as Holbrook's nemesis) but none of the other actors have anything in the way of an Oscar-ready profile. But after the year Carrie Preston has had -- dropping some humanity into the arch Duplicity, reliably entertaining us as Arlene on True Blood and this affecting portrait of a wife who loves her husband but isn't blind to his flaws -- we should all be new fans.

Yes, from November 6th onward each and every weekend brings us new Oscar contenders of one type or another.
  • Nov 6th: Precious, That Evening Sun, A Christmas Carol
  • Nov 13th: Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Messenger
  • Nov 20th: Broken Embraces, The Blind Side (?), The Twilight Sa (oh, I'm kidding)
  • Nov 27th: The Road (wide. Holiday appropriate! er....) and a bunch of limited releases: Me and Orson Welles, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, The Princess and the Frog. I have to say I think it was a H-U-G-E mistake for Nine to leave November... even more enormous than I had originally thought. You see, not one major Oscar contender is going to be wide for the entire Thanksgiving period. Unless you count The Road. Not even Precious (which will be expanding in November but not wide until sometime in December). It's like the Weinstein Company is just setting fire to money. They'd have had zero competition. Plus, November is actually from the latin word "novem" which means NINE. Hello... can't the Weinsteins respect the Gregorian calendar!?

  • Dec 4th: Brothers, Up in the Air, Everybody's Fine (?)
  • Dec 11th: A Single Man, Invictus and The Lovely Bones which is only in limited release till January. Like Nine, it's another Oscar hopeful with mainstream appeal. Plus it's from a hugely successful director (Peter Jackson). It seems like they're just putting money in the trash compactor. Why don't they want those holiday dollars? Are they worried about the movie's bankability?
  • Dec 18th: Avatar (wide), Nine, The Young Victoria
  • Christmas: Sherlock Holmes, It's Complicated (wide releases... Globe contenders?), Police Adjective (Romania's foreign film contender). Nine and Up in the Air, two presumed Oscar giants, also quit hiding and open wide.
  • Dec 30th: The White Ribbon (More than most filmmakers, Michael Haneke pieces require time to shift and settle and unsettle again in the mind of the viewer. So why they keep sticking him with these maddeningly busy release dates -- Christmas or New Years -- is beyond me. Seems like such a missed opportunity for what his films always need: discussions with room to breathe. Caché in particular was gaining steam -- his films build the further you get away from them -- so had it been released even just a few weeks earlier (sigh) maybe it would have won a Screenplay or Director nod? Or at least more precursor honors. Instead it t'was crushed in the glut. We'll see the same thing happen again this time.
So longwinded today.

My point is simply this: Here we go! (Are you excited yet?)
This was all a lengthy awkward way of saying that Oscar Predictions in All Categories are all up to date and I'm more than ready for these movies. Discuss.


J.L said...

This is going to be a so funny award season :D

I've heard that Sherlock Holmes already have got one screening, and it was positve words about it. Especially Jude Law's performance.

Also The Blind Side has got some good early notices.

Billy Held An Oscar said...

If 'Precious' is nominated for Best Picture will Oprah Winfrey be one of the nominated producers ?

adelutza said...

Have you seen That Evening Sun Nathaniel? I caught it at a local festival and while the film is not bad I can't really understand why suddenly Hal Holbrook became a contender. I think it's Trucker all over again , though I have to say, I really enjoyed That Evening Sun , which I can't say about Trucker.


adelutza I have seen That Evening Sun, yes. Really liked it. Holbrook definitely has more of an awards profile than Michelle Monaghan (considering he's a recent nominee and an enduring Hollywood actor) so he has a headstart as far as suddenly becoming a real contender. ;)

Billy... the maximum allowed Producers is 3 (for official nominations) so 3 of these people (I'm not entirely sure how they decide the nominees but it's on a film by film basis obviously if there's more than 3 producers.

executive producers (5): Lisa Cortes, Tom Heller, Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey and Simon Sheffield (who is a 'coexecutive')

producers (4): Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness, Gary Maness and Mark G Mathis (who is a 'co-producer')

and there are still more though their titles are different still... I'm not sure how PRECIOUS will work this out.

Seeking Amy said...

Well it looks like I might not even see Precious until DVD after it seeing every award on the planet. Unless Portland starts catching up, which they're usually good about. I'm only finally going to see A Serious Man this week. And I don't want to even think about where I'm going to have to go to see Broken Embraces or A Single Man. If it only gets to Seattle i'll attack my UW friends if they so much utter a syllable about watching them.

Mame said...

This soooooooo totally off topic but I bought the DVD of Pelle the Conqueror, only to find out it's been dubbed in horrific English. God, I'm so angry.

Anonymous said...

Possibly dumb question, but: Do you think "Where the Wild Things Are" is a contender for anything?

Anonymous said...

I'm pissed. It seems like all these movies are opening wide release after a month if limited release. Just release them like regular movies for God's sake.


anon 2:03 in a just world it'd obviously be a contender for things like cinematography and art direction and whatnot but i suspect it's not really the academy's thing, wild or otherwise.

i'd love to see lance acord noticed (cinematographer) since he does such strong work each time but they don't seem to have noticed his existence yet.

Unknown said...

I'm exhausted just thinking about all of this awards conjecture this early. It just reminds me of how much time I will have to spend in the theaters -- time that I don't have.

In other news, Nate, today is Toni Collette's birthday. I would love to see her name return to the awards circle.

Jude said...

I notice most Nine attention veering towards Penelope, Marion, and Nicole. Has Sophia Loren too small of a role for people to talk about her?


Jude -- i'm hearing it's a very small part and what's more they took away her big song (the TITLE SONG if you can believe it)

gabrieloak said...

I don't find this Oscar season very exciting at all.

I hope I like Precious because it's being shoved down our throats by Oprah and the critics.


gabrieloak -- yet another reason i despise the release system. there is no earthly reason why people should get sick of movies (particularly good ones like this) months before they arrive.

Michael B. said...

Usually producers (Not executive not co just PRODUCERS) get nominated for Best Picture.

So for Precious it would be:
Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Maness.

Dorian said...

"Precious" might not have needed all of the hand-holding it's gotten(Toronto, Sundance, Oprah, Tyler Perry, critics, etc.), but the subject matter would have turned off some audiences too without the pre-acceptance, so I'm fine with the way they've handled the marketing so far. Nothing's been shoved down my throat. I can just as easily avoid the "hype" if I really wanted to, but I don't want to since I'm a shameless Oscars junkie. I'm hoping that the film's amazing, and if it goes all the way to the Kodak and wins the big one, whew, that'll be a historic moment that I'd love to witness. It's too bad that there has to be backlashes lurking at every corner nowadays just b/c people are impatient, but hopefully the end product will be worth the tongue-wagging and quell the early naysayers. The premiere for this can't come soon enough for me. The waiting is just fueling my appetite. Sadly this film won't get to my area until December, but that's life for ya.

gabrieloak said...

If Precious is a good film, it doesn't need all this "pre-acceptance." I think Oscar campaigning can hurt some films. I'm really curious how Precious does at the box office -- but since Oprah will be telling her viewers that it's the best picture of the year I suppose that should help a lot.

Michael said...

Have people seen the new official Nine page? It features the full length version by 'Be Italian'...and profiles for each of the characters, accompanied by a quotations each.

Marion Cotillard's Liliane is a line from my favourite song (at this very moment in time at least) 'My Husband Makes Movies' - so it must have made it into the final cut!


Here's the link -

Dorian said...

I don't trust American audiences with pretty much anything, and a film about an overweight black teenager struggling through some unspeakable horrors (incest, rape, pregnancy, AIDS) needed some kind of smoothing of the waters, and nothing's wrong with that. If that's built up the "hype" too much for people, that's too bad but can still be used to the film's advantage. I think a lot of this also has to do with Oprah's endorsement, which it seems like some people have an automatic reaction against. I never have and doubt I ever will. Love Oprah, Mo'Nique, read "Push" already, so nothing's been shoved down my throat like I suspect some people feel.

Flosh said...

i'm still waiting for AN EDUCATION to hit the 'burbs. sigh.

Gwen said...

I have to say,this year has got to be one of the worst seasons. I'm just not excited about really any of the awards contenders that have come out or will come out (except for Nine). A lot of the films are either really depressing,sad,or uninteresting.

Also, the same movies are being mentioned for awards over, and over, and over again. At least last year there was some excitement with movies like Slumdog Millionaire,The Wrestler,and Milk. I hoping that this year there will be some people/movies that will come out of nowhere and receive recognition, but I have a feeling that won't happen. I am looking forward to next year's award season more than I am this years.:(

Brian Darr said...

But you know as well as anyone why the studios hold back these films from the general, nationwide public for weeks or months during "awards season"- their marketing plans depend on awards recognition to put them into as much theatrical profit as possible. Apparently (I wouldn't know myself, I'm no marketer and haven't researched the soundness of this wisdom) it's foolhardy to release a drama in Des Moines without being able to plaster at least a Golden Globe if not an Oscar statuette on the newspaper ads.


Brian... what you say is totally true but so much of that is based on self-fulfilling prophesies -- distributors have taught the public not to be interested in serious films except during hte holidays -- and, though it can't be proven, I firmly believe that releasing all the same type of movies at the same time each year is actually eating into the profits for all of them, rather than helping them. People don't actually go to the movies that often, so if someone like "prestige" fare for example. They're going to pick and choose rather than seeing them all if they were spaced out a little.

I mean they don't open IRON MAN against the THE DARK KNIGHT, you know?! That would be foolish.

But for whatever reason the distributors thinks that christmas weekend can contain all Oscar releases that are ready to go wide and all that are ready to debut in limited.

I get that NINE, which people seemed most interested in, wanted to push back to DECEMBER under the fear of being too early (that thanksgiving is preceived as too early breaks my heart) but it does kind of surprise me that none of hte others movies noticed the gaping hole it left in November and took up residence there.

Mr. Movie Geek said...

THANK YOU for addressing the concept of a film's "limited release". I live in the twin-cities area in central Illinois (approx. 125,000 people - and nearly 25,000 more in the county). We have six theaters, five of which are multiplexes that all play the same wide releases, and one locally-operated single-screen theater that sometimes plays the limited stuff - but it never arrives 'til one, two, or even three months afterward. In such a heavily concentrated area, you'd think that ONE of these multiplexes would attach something like Precious its opening weekend, but...alas, that's the way of the movie business, I guess. If only movie studios were more willing to get stuff out there, I'm absolutely positive it'd still get some money for our business-oriented towns. Glad to know someone else shares this frustration.

Amir said...

maybe it's just me, but i think in your predictions you've put too much hope into 'the last station'.
i mean, i have no pre-judgement of the film and if anything, the cast at least is really intriguing to me, but 7 nominations? especially when you gave it only a B.


amir -- how good i think a movie is is different than how much i think the Academy will like it ;)

but i do think it's right up Oscar alley

Glenn Dunks said...

"I'm pissed. It seems like all these movies are opening wide release after a month if limited release. Just release them like regular movies for God's sake."

Aah, but remember when stuff like Star Wars were released limited and then went wide. There's always been limited releases.

Amir said...

haha nathaniel, obviously your opinion is different comparing to the oscars.
i WISH you gave the oscars. it would have been so much better.

ALEX said...

I will be very sad if Cheri doesn't get nominations to the Oscars¡¡¡¡ And if Michelle is not nominated, I promise that I won't see these Oscars¡¡¡¡

Cheri is a great Colette adaptation. I hope that Miramax will do his job¡

What do you think Nathaniel?

Anonymous said...

OH GOD! TYLER PERRY COULD WIN AN OSCAR FOR PRODUCING 'PRECIOUS'. I'm officially starting a "don't nominate precious- tyler perry can't get an oscar!" club. There is NOTHING redeeming about Tyler Perry.