Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Oscar Combination

What matters most in the Oscar race...?
  • Critics (quotable raves, festival honors, year end prizes)
  • Media (favoritism from EW to Awards Daily to Oprah)
  • Precursors (love from the guilds and the Globes)
  • Momentum (the past triumphs of actors and directors)
  • Prestige (subject matter x genre ÷ filmmaking team assembled)
  • Industry Pull (Hollywood eats their own, but some are higher on the food chain)
  • Audience (box office popularity and buzz)

If you answered, "Trick Question! All of the above," you are correct...

...where I'll be sounding off on the Oscars weekly. This article focuses on mastering The Oscar Combination and why I don't think James Cameron's Avatar is the frontrunner, despite its billion dollar haul. Also discussed: The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air, Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock.


ThaDropDownBear said...

I dunno meing this is probably naive at this point but I think the running looks something like;

Hurt Locker- 35% (precursors)
Up In the Air- 35% (precursors)
Inglourious Basterds- 15% (I dunno some people might be pissed about Pulp Fiction snub, Tarantini nostalgia? Premise fits them like a glove those Nazi (movie) loving bastards.)
Precious- 5% (well, equality is becoming more pertinent by the day why not honour that in this way? What will be the most afrocentric film to ever be nominated for Best Picture? Itd bring tears to me eyes!)
10%- Everything else (Cuz ya never know, you know?)

Dean said...

That is a really well written and insightful article. The only thing I would add is the possibility of Inglourious Basterds winning. Although the three you mentioned are no doubt fruntrunners, I would argue Tarantino's epic has the best combo of the seven factors in it's favor. The precursors have been consistent in honoring it. The media was pretty strong, especially due to the Pitt factor. It's overflowing with momentum and prestige. There seems to be ample Tarantino goodwill lasting from Pulp Fiction which most people think now was more deserving for picture and director than Gump. The Academy would live to feel vindicated on that front by honoring Basterds. What's more prestigious than World War II and multiple foreign languages? For the industry factor, you have Weinstein. He hopefully will put all his eggs into the Basterds basket even if Nine gets nominated since it won't have a chance of winning. Audience is definitely a check with a huge box office, performing much better than expected. The weakest factor would maybe be the critics even though it had solid reviews it didn't have the raves of Hurt Locker, however it seems to have grown in favor over a coulple of months since it's lighting up top ten lists. Add in passionate support for two star turns from Waltz and Laurent. Anyway I think it should definitely be in the conversation especially considering the ballot process for winning best picture. So many peole like it and the winner is going to have to have broad support and for some reason I envision a ton of Academy memebers selecting Basterds as their second or third choice.

adam k. said...

See, I would argue that Up in the Air's "companionship v. isolation" theme IS very topical since it reflects the current political debate in ways that relate to the economy, too. The whole thing played, to me, like a terrifically effective personal/political allegory of our times.

I thought it was the clear winner until Avatar mucked everything up. I still think it wins the globe easily, probably with 3 statues (Picture, Actor, Screenplay) bringing it lots of momentum. But it still feels like it could end up simply winning the screenplay oscar at the end of the day.

I suppose Basterds could win in a split, carrying screenplay, Waltz, cinematography and art direction with it. But I just don't quite see it. And I guess I'm biased because, as much as I like it, I love Up in the Air and Avatar more.

I think the major precursors will end up looking like this:

GLOBE: Up in the Air
SAG: Basterds
PGA: Avatar
DGA: Hurt Locker
WGA: Hurt Locker, Up in the Air

...and that would certainly keep it interesting right up through the big night.

adam k. said...

It really should be a super-exciting 1981/2006 type year, where there is no frontrunner and everything wins enough statues before best pic that no one really will know until the envelope is opened.

Andrew said...

It depresses me to no end that Precious seems to have fallen out of any chance of winning. I still think it's my favorite of the bunch.


andrew -- i don't think Precious ever had a chance of winning, so i'm just happy it hasn't really lost nomination momentum. It's not a perfect film but it's so forceful. love it.

adam k -- i am actually going to watch Up in the Air again with your comments in mind (companionship/isolation as reflective of the same thing). hmmm.

Anonymous said...

I thought Up In the Air was more relevant in a similar way to Adam. As personified in Clooney, our economy has done so well because of its willingness to be so alienating and isolating, and even now that the bottom has fallen out, we're still left with the isolation. In better times, prosperity was a better opiate. (But I've been reading enough Marx to see these ideas pretty much everywhere.)

I think it ties to tie up Clooney's and Kendrick's problems a little too nicely to have really said too much about all that, but the set-up does strike me as pretty insightful and relevant.

Pf_Iggy said...

One of the things I don't understand of the Oscar race around the web it's that one day "there's no way that movie/performance is getting nominated" and the following week once a blogger or two have declared it a likely contender, it becomes a lock, and then everyone else declares it sure is. :S

Don't un-der-stand it - said iggy with a heavily marked Spanish accent.


Pf_iggy... that's the problem with groupthink and especially with the overenthusiastic EXCITABLE "it's a lock" culture that the internet breeds. I think you just have to look at it in a similar way that you have to look at the IMDB top 250. When buzz start or a movie first opens insane people declare it BEST EVER and then eventually things settle to their normal state which is or isn't one filled with hoopla.

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adam k. said...

Really, Marsha Mason? Kendrick, sure, but I didn't think Clooney's issues were tied up AT ALL. The ending was so glorious in that way.

I'm really surprised UitA hasn't done better in the critics' awards, since I think it's really firing on all cylinders in terms of theory and critical interpretation, in addition to being superbly made.

I feel like the critics are taking Up in the Air's Hollywood cred for really rallying behind Hurt Locker in order to get Bigelow her trophy... as well they should, I suppose.

adam k. said...

Wow I really f'ed up that last sentence.

Insert "granted, and..." between "for" and "really". i.e. taking Up in the Air for granted. Sigh.

I was really blown away by that film.

Marsha Mason said...

You're right, Adam, in that I think "tied up" is probably a poor word choice for Clooney, but the movie had a too positive spin (given what came bfore), CLooney included, at the end which did not work for me at all.