Wednesday, April 07, 2010

How To Train Your Pundit (More Oscar Predictions)

First, keep an open mind.
Second, also keep it closed.

The art of Oscar predictions is to both embrace the obvious and then to shoo it away. You can't let the obvious choices hoodwink you into believing that the same types of movies and same exact people that were once embraced will be reembraced each year. Because it doesn't work (exactly) like that.

Like anyone else I've made some terrible calls over the years but one thing I'm really proud of in my Oscar prediction track record is that I am not as beholden to statistics as some of my fellow pundits. That's how I've been able to call people correctly who the precursors didn't treat that well. Some of my proudest "they'll be nominated!" moments over the years: Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden for Pollock; Pedro Almodovar for Talk to Her; Laura Linney for The Savages and in some cases, noone else was saying so. It's also how I've avoided "obvious" traps way early in the punditry game like how so many people were predicting Daniel Day-Lewis for Nine or Cate Blanchett for Benjamin Button for so very long. Not me. Sometimes if the call seems too easy, it is.

Not that I haven't stumbled myself but I'm focusing on the positive here.

<--- Rinko Kikuchi in Japan's Norwegian Wood

The remainder of the first wave of 2010/11 Oscar season predictions will be finalized this weekend since only the big six categories remain. But everything else is now up including Score, Techs and Foreign. The latter is totally foolish guesswork since Cannes is still a month away and even then each country's submissions can go any which way. And finally there's also a page up for Animated Film. Open Mind: I don't think that Toy Story 3 is a sure thing for a win. Isn't Oscar going to get sick of handing trophies to Pixar films? Discuss.

I get the sense from various comments, e-mails and poll results that there's a whole subsection of reader who wish I'd swerve into the pixels a little more often. So I shall try this year. It's strange that I write about animation so rarely because I do like the medium quite a lot. In fact, until I was about 20 I wanted to be an animator.


Casey said...

interesting all, the big movies of the year look to be true grit, inception, the way back, black swan, and the social network

Terry said...

Not sure if it is getting a U.S. release in 2010, but there is a Japanese animation film called Summer Wars that I think should be strongly considered for the Oscar!

Robert said...

I really am not feeling a Toy Story 3 win. I'm sure it'll be great, but it's a threequel and it's time for someone else to win! I'm really feeling "The Illusionist".

Ishmael said...

In the score predictions you've got Never Let Me Go in the "Who is composing?" list.
Well, the composer is Rachel Portman.

Robert Hamer said...

If enough people believe that Pixar has won too many Oscars, and if Toy Story 3 isn't a massive critical and commercial success, I could easily see Animated Feature going to How to Train Your Dragon next year.

As for the techs, the fanboy in me would love to see Daft Punk get a Best Original Score nomination for Tron Legacy. Is that too much of a long shot, Nat?

Casey said...

How to Train Your Dragon was excellent in both story and in visual effects. I think it'll be tough to beat for next year's Oscars; so i'm positive another animated film will come along the way.

James T said...

How to Train Your Dragon was, for me, a great movie with a disappointing ending. I hope there is something better to come in the animated field (The Illusionist, probably) and take the Oscar.

I'm still angry that Tangled will be in 3D.

Jorge Rodrigues said...

Hey Nathaniel, did you repost that Hilary Swank caption contest?

I liked so many of the answers... Some Swank bashing is all I need this time of the year, when everyone (including myself) starts predicting her 3rd win...

jbaker475 said...

I saw somewhere that Abel Korzeniowski is composing Rabbit Hole's score. I know you weren't the biggest fan of A Single Man or its score, but I think it could be a possible contender.

Unknown said...

i am so psyched (and scared) for norwegian wood!

Andrew R. said...

I made a list of 16 possible contenders, both realistic and early releases that are kind of unlikely.

Before that, Animated: Toy Story 3 is not a sure thing yet. But even if the reviews are bad for a Pixar film, it's a guarenteed nominee. How To Train Your Dragon is a likely nominee-Coraline got nom'd even with early release.


Black Swan:
PROS: He's due, especially after the Requiem/Fountain/Wrestler snubs. Pi too. Good cast.
CONS: Well, if Requiem couldn't get nominated...

Blue Valentine:
PROS: Early buzz, Weinstein's campaigning, Gosling is due
CONS: Weinstein's campaigning, very indie

Ghost Writer:
PROS: Sympathy for Polanski. Good reviews.
CONS: Hatred for Polanski, early release, it's no Chinatown.

Harry Potter 7 Part 1:
PROS: Series is due for recognition, only series of 6 to be consistent (well, the last 5 Saw films were consistently bad, does that count?)
CONS: There's the 2nd half, too kiddy and fantasy according to AMPAS. Never gets Visual Effects nominations.

PROS: Nolan. And of course, DARK KNIGHT'S SNUB. ARGH. Great cast.
CONS: Very little info. Leo never wins. Nolan hasn't been nominated.

It's Kind of a Funny Story:
PROS: The source material is Academy-style funny. (Reitman-esque humor).
CONS: Cast is a bit iffy. Comedy isn't their thing. Young adult oriented, and that's a no-no.

Kids are All Right:
PROS: Bening and Moore are due, early as hell buzz, Sundance viewers loved it.
CONS: Too early buzz. Also, Brokeback.

Rabbit Hole:
PROS: Cast. The plot is the kind they love.
CONS: Naughty sounding title, very little info.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World:
PROS: Cera is a great actor, good source material. Call this my "just might make it" nominee.
CONS: Superbad couldn't get nominated, it's a comedy, the girlfriend reminds me of Clementine from Eternal Sunshine, which wasn't nominated. Might flop.

Shutter Island:
PROS: Scorsese and Leo.
CONS: Not a Goodfellas, Leo never wins. Early release.

PROS: S. Coppola is 3 for 3. She's due.
CONS: Virgin Suicides couldn't get nominated for Screenplay, Bigelow may have won but women are still struggling. Also, little info.

Toy Story 3:
PROS: With Up + 10 slots + Pixar, it's very likely.
CONS: It's STILL animated, and other animators (Miyazaki, Disney, Dreamworks, some indie animator...) deserve a chance. Spread the love.

PROS: Very strong source.
CONS: They're iffy about drug movies and I want to kill whoever casted Chase Crawford.

Tree of Life:
PROS: He's due.
CONS: He can't get nominated.

True Grit:
PROS: Bridges just won and it got John Wayne an Oscar. Coen Bros are on a roll.
CONS: Remake.

Winter's Bone:
PROS: Sundance winner. Could pull a Precious.
CONS: Dark, an acting vehicle.

Burning Reels said...

Wonderful prediction section as always Nathaniel - really enjoying it:)

Robert Hamer, even if Daft Punk did create a brilliant score, you know they'd rule it ineligible somehow!

Do you think that despite The Hurt Locker being set in a very different war, that The Way Back may struggle to create much of a buzz - too much successive war? (or does this not exist in Oscarland?)

Alex said...

Okay, on Daniel Day-Lewis for NINE: I think he definitely would've been in had the film been the massive hit we all thought it would be. I think if it were as strong a contender later in the game, he would've been a sure thing.

Anonymous said...

Nathanial ( and other FE readers ) don't sleep on or underestimate Secretariat. It has an Oscar winning/nominated crew all around it. Add to that one of the great sports stories of all time and you have a winner.
At the time Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973, there had been a 15 year snub since the last timea horse accomkplished that feat. Also that year Secretariat broke the speed records at The Kentucky Derby ( 1:59 ) and at The Belmont Stakes ( 2:24 ) in fact winning that race by an incredible 31 lengths. Both records that still stand today which is really incredible when you think about it. Almost 40 year records.
Other than Diane Lane playing owner Penny Chenery, John Malkovich will get to play legendary trainer Lucien Laurin. Oscar winner Deam Semler ( Dances With Wolves ) is the cinematographer ( an A type film that will benefit from the natural visuals ) and Braveheart screenwriter Randall Wallace ( We Were Soldiers ) directing.
As I mentioned, there's millions and millions horesracing fans and buffs and many people will see this movie and it will grab the attention of a a lot of people because it was such a great story.

A. Duncan Carson said...

As this specific moment, with How To Train Your Dragon having heart and great storytelling and the Toy Story 3 trailers full of gross-out gags and lame mugging (the use of the song "Loving You" when Ken and Barbie meet made me wince), it seems like Dreamworks and Pixar have traded roles.

But I'm sure TS3 has more than trailer editors think we're looking for, and Shrek Forever After will probably push Dragon from people's minds. Alas.

Alex Constantin said...

not that it matters a lot, but Romania's submission is gonna be either Berlin winner "If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle"

or Cristi Puiu's Aurora, not released yet
he's the guy who directed Death of Mr. Lazarescu.

Janice said...

@Anon 4:36 - "Seabiscuit" was a great story, great (and best-selling) biography but the movie was still a huge disappointment. And, my SO and I went to see it at the theater at the Museum of the Horse in Saratoga Springs, NY, because we thought that would be really cool to see it in one of the horse racing capitals of the world. (I'm not a racing or horse person, but she used to be a horsewoman.) And, symbolic connections of place and all, the movie still sucked.

I don't think there are that many horse racing fans that they, by themselves, can make a film about Secretariat a hit (or an Oscar contender). And even amoung those fans - if the film doesn't hit the sweet spot, they won't be coming back for seconds.

That film would really need to knock it out of the park, quite literally, to be either a BO or awards contender.

rubi-kun said...

I second Summer Wars for Best Animated Film! If it gets a decent release, minds will be blown. Better than a lot of Miyazaki's work, even.

No Bad Movies said...

Well Janice, I guess we will agree to disagree. I happened to really like the movie. I thought there were some fine performances in the film.
I also in some way was responding to Nathanial's original post and his wait and see movie list as referring to Secretariat as a film about " Diane Lane buys a horsetrack ". That's not what the film is about. It's about a horse that accomplished a great feat, that has only been matched twice since in 37 years.
And as for the film being a disappointment, well... it has a near 80% approval rating critically and it scored a Best Picture Oscar nomination. So....

Unknown said...

I think How to Train Your Dragon should win best score. Just look up the soundtrack on Youtube and tell me that it is not a phenomenal score.