Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Golden Globe: Nominations and Pre-Announcement Predictions

Picture (Drama):
• “The Descendants”
• “The Help”
• “Hugo”
• “The Ides of March"
• “Moneyball"
• “War Horse”

Prediction score: 4/5

Prediction summary: As will become apparent in the course of this post, I have a feeling that David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method" could do well here, given the excellent reviews and recent warm appraisal of his work by the HFPA. After the SAG shut-out, this will be a particularly big test for "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," which should be re-titled "Extremely Late and Incredibly Cheeky." Spielberg and "War Horse" don't feel like potential winners of anything anymore, but even if it misses the Academy could still resurrect it, given the obvious advantage of its tearjerking elements.

Picture (Comedy/Musical):
• “50/50”
• “The Artist”
• “Bridesmaids”
• “Carnage”
• “Midnight in Paris”
• “My Week with Marilyn"

Prediction Score: 3/5

Prediction summary: An unusually strong category this year (especially compared to last!) to the extent where I'm only comfortable with the first three picks. After that, "We Bought a Zoo" and "Young Adult" could be outmuscled by the well-reviewed "50/50," or the A-list laden "Carnage." Or else be brushed aside by Simon Curtis' featherweight Marilyn Monroe movie? 

• Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"
• George Clooney, "The Ides of March"
 Michael Hazanavicius, “The Artist”
• Alexander Payne, “The Descendants”
• Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”

Prediction score: 3/5

Prediction summary: I toyed with including David Cronenberg but I didn't want to go that crazy with the film. Refn is getting many notices with critics, and I reckon the Globes will be much kinder to "Drive" than the SAGs were or the Oscars likely will be. A host of names could pop up here, like Woody Allen, Stephen Daldry, or Tate Taylor.

Leading Actress (Drama):
• Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"
• Viola Davis, “The Help”
• Rooney Mara, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
• Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
• Tilda Swinton, “We Need to Talk About Kevin”

Prediction score: 3/5

Prediction summary: A Glenn Close snub doesn't seem like the smartest thing in the world to predict after her SAG nomination, but this is a hipper kind of branch. Felicity Jones appears to be more in favour than Elizabeth Olsen, and I've been convinced from the beginning of the season that somebody would give Keira Knightley something given the sheer ferocity of the performance. The other options are Kirsten Dunst and Rooney Mara.

Leading Actor (Drama):
• George Clooney, “The Descendants”
• Leonardo Di Caprio, “J. Edgar”
• Michael Fassbender, “Shame”
• Ryan Gosling, “The Ides of March”
• Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”

Prediction score: 4/5

Prediction summary: When all is said and done, the Globes are about stars. This is one of the starriest actor lineups they can muster this year.

Leading Actress (Comedy/Musical):
• Jodie Foster, "Carnage”
• Charlize Theron, “Young Adult”
• Kristen Wiig, “Bridesmaids”
• Michelle Williams, “My Week with Marilyn”
• Kate Winslet, “Carnage”

Prediction score: 4/5

Prediction summary: Scarlett Johansson was their sweetheart in '03, '04, and '05 (remember "A Love Song for Bobby Long" anyone?) but her spot could easily go to Jodie Foster in a "Carnage" double-dip, Berenice Bejo in a category switchup, or perennial Globe favourites Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz, who worked this year, which is usually good enough.

Leading Actor (Comedy/Musical):
• Brendan Gleeson, "The Guard"
• Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”
• Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "50/50"
• Ryan Gosling, "Crazy Stupid Love"
• Owen Wilson, "Midnight in Paris"

Prediction score: 2/5

Prediction summary: My logic: predict Johnny Depp and then if he's nominated you'll at least be happy that you got it right. Unless of course he manages to be included for his performance in the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" instalment, in which case you can just kill me. Ryan Gosling could be nominated twice if they liked those abs in "Crazy Stupid Love"; Christoph Waltz or John C. Reilly (the Globes like him!) might find themselves here if the "Carnage" love runs free. I don't even want to contemplate a Tom Hanks nomination.

Supporting Actress:
• Berenice Bejo, "The Artist"
 Jessica Chastain, “The Help”
• Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs"
• Octavia Spencer, “The Help”
• Shailene Woodley, “The Descendants”

Prediction score: 3/5

Prediction summary: Will this be where Carey Mulligan lands a major nomination? She's certainly a huge star profile right now. Melissa McCarthy is the biggest lock here after that SAG inclusion, but someone else could well be ousted to make room for Sandra Bullock. Winning Globe, SAG, and Oscar two years ago isn't enough for these people. They want to canonise their Bullock at every opportunity.

Supporting Actor:
• Albert Brooks, “Drive”
• Kenneth Branagh, “My Week with Marilyn”
• Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"
• Viggo Mortensen, “A Dangerous Method”
• Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”

Prediction score: 4/5

Prediction summary: Sacha Baron Cohen is well-liked, and let's face it: this category is batshit crazy. Beyond Branagh, Plummer, and (surely) Brooks, there's no telling where the Academy is going to go. I definitely don't see a Nick Nolte nomination happening here, so it's gonna differ from the SAG whatever happens.

• "The Artist"
• "The Descendants"
• "The Ides of March"

• "Midnight in Paris"
• "Moneyball"

Animated Feature:
• "The Adventures of Tintin"
• "Arthur Christmas"
• "Cars 2"
• "Puss In Boots"
• "Rango"

Foreign Language Film:
• "The Flowers of War" (China)
• "In the Land of Blood and Honey" (USA)
• "The Kid with a Bike" (Belgium)
• "A Separation" (Iran)
• "The Skin I Live In" (Spain)

Original Score:
• Ludovic Bource, "The Artist"
• Abel Korzeniowski, "W.E."
• Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
• Howard Shore, "Hugo"
• John Williams, "War Horse"

Original Song:

• 'Hello Hello', "Gnomeo and Juliet"
• 'The Keeper', "Machine Gun Preacher"
• 'Lay Your Head Down', "Albert Nobbs"
• 'The Living Proof', "The Help"
• 'Masterpiece', "W.E." (Madonna!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Screen Actors Guild: Nominations & Reaction

This year the Screen Actors Guild Nominations and Golden Globe nominations occur just a day apart, giving the biggest indicator as to what/who will be nominated at the Oscars in January.

The SAG nominations are below, along with reactions and pre-nomination analysis.


• “The Artist”
• “Bridesmaids”
• “The Descendants”
• “The Help”
• "Midnight in Paris"

Reaction: I don't consider "Midnight in Paris" a particularly meaty ensemble, so this is probably more about them appreciating the film. Poor "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" looks a goner this awards season.

Prediction score: 4/5, missing “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” for "Midnight in Paris."

Prediction Summary: I may be dropping the ball here by not predicting “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” for anything, but aren’t they risking things greatly with this last-gasp grab for attention? As I was reliably informed on Twitter this week, even “Million Dollar Baby” had screened for most of the press by the end of November. In any case, neither Daldry’s film, nor Scorsese’s “Hugo,”nor Spielberg’s “War Horse” seem like the immediate go-to-feature for ensemble prizes, peppered with veteran actors here and there, but essentially led by youngsters. It might finally be time for “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”and its British thespian talent to join the precursor party, but it’s unclear whether anyone has particularly taken to the film.

“The Artist,” “The Descendants, “ and “The Help” are probably the three wisest predictions for an eventual Oscar winner, and they’ve all got sufficient enough cast lists (John Goodman, James Cromwell and Malcolm McDowell give the former a leg up here) to comfortably make this guild’s lineup. And why not “Bridesmaids,” which nearly everyone liked, and which boasts a wonderful set of comedic performers?

Leading Actress:

• Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"
• Viola Davis, "The Help"
• Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
• Tilda Swinton, “We Need to Talk About Kevin”
• Michelle Williams, “My Week with Marilyn”

Reaction: So Glenn Close has clout! This was a game-saver, given that I don't particularly think the Globes are going to go for this film in as big a way. If they don't, this is gonna be a mighty unpredictable year in this category.

Prediction score: 4/5, missing Close for Charlize Theron, who this hurts a little but who still has a chance.

Prediction summary: This could well be what the eventual Oscar lineup looks like, but realistically this could go any-which-way-but Mara (kidding!) Davis, Streep, and Williams all look strong, while Theron and Swinton look fairly comfortable – even with characters and films that will inevitably deter some from investing fully. I’d suggest watching out for the hot trio of Elizabeth Olsen, Felicity Jones, Kirsten Dunst as spoilers to the party, or of course that veteran Actress with gender-swapping credentials, but currently without any precursor support.

Leading Actor:

• Demian Bichir, "A Better Life"
• George Clooney, “The Descendants”
• Leonardo Di Caprio, "J. Edgar"
• Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”
• Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”

Reaction: *sigh* I often find that SAG opt for blander, more uniform choices than even the Academy can tend to. Di Caprio fits the bill on this occasion, but it's nice to see Demian Bichir's accomplished performance in a tiny film gather some awards traction. This is awfully crowded, isn't it?

Prediction score: 3/5, since I mistakenly thought that those fans gunning for Fassbender and Shannon would bring about some much-needed nuance in this lineup.

Prediction summary: You would think Gary Oldman would be able to make a dent in this category, given the overdue status and immense appreciation for him in the industry, but this is going to be tough. Fassbender and Shannon appear to be sharing the spoils in the lesser-seen-actor-to-champion stakes, and so Oldman, along with Harrelson, may well have to go without. A Dujardin snub isn’t out of the question, but if it happened it wouldn’t be that disastrous for him, since the Oscar could still be his with a three-way split.

Supporting Actress:

Berenice Bejo, “The Artist”
• Jessica Chastain, "The Help"
• Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"
• Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs"
• Octavia Spencer, “The Help”

Reaction: Wow. It's good to see the best Chastain performance singled out in as important an Oscar precursor as this one. They clearly appreciated "Albert Nobbs" much more than critics, although they also went for "Get Low" last year, which eventually got shuffled out of the mix. Can the excellent Melissa McCarthy hold on for Oscar, despite the crass role and inherent comedy bias?

Prediction score: 2/5, and I'm glad to be. Apart from Redgrave's snub, the guild definitely got this category as right as they could have.

Prediction summary: This “The Tree of Life” isn’t an obvious pick for an ensemble prize, but actors’ sensibilities may still be more attuned to this film than something like “The Help,” which could pose problems for Chastain’s perceived chief assault on a Supporting actress nomination. I’d be very surprised if an actors guild didn’t warm to the serious chops of Redgrave’s performance in “Coriolanus,” even if the film doesn’t have a particularly high profile.

Supporting Actor:

• Kenneth Branagh, "My Week with Marilyn"
• Armie Hammer, "J. Edgar"
• Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"
• Nick Nolte, "Warrior"
• Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”

Reaction: It's especially great to see Nick Nolte singled out for his excellent performance in "Warrior." Hammer and Hill were considerably off the radar (for entirely different reasons) but this gives them a definite leg-up. Kenneth Branagh should be fairly safe now.

Prediction score: 1/5. Disastrous, but there were an awful lot of guys in the mix. I should have predicted Branagh.

Prediction summary: With regard to Pitt, refer to what I said earlier about “The Tree of Life.” From there: Kingsley and Forster have small roles in big films, and there isn’t an awful lot of competition around. Beyond Brooks and Plummer this is rather a wildcard category.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

And Then There Were 100: Best Picture

Time flies when you're having fun. Back in May, I posted the final 100 of Oscar's Best Actress nominees I had yet to see. As that figure now nears fifty the number of Best Picture nominees left has just reached the century mark itself. I have purposely left tasty-looking options to avoid a stale anti-climax, and I've also tried to spread the films in terms of decades, although -- as you'll see -- there are rather a lot of 1920s/30s films remaining. I don't know much about many of them, so please feel free to chime in with suggestions of which to get out of the way and which to leave until last.

Here's the list:

1. *Wings (1927-28)
2. The Racket (1927-28)
3. Alibi (1928-29)
4. Hollywood Revue (1928-29)
5. In Old Arizona (1928-29)
6. The Patriot (1928-29)
7. The Big House (1929-30)
8. Disraeli (1929-30)
9. The Love Parade (1929-30)
10. East Lynne (1930-31)
11. Trader Horn (1930-31)
12. Arrowsmith (1931-32)
13. Five Star Final (1931-32)
14. The Smiling Lieutenant (1931-32)
15. Smilin’ Through (1932-33)
16. State Fair (1932-33)
17. Flirtation Walk (1934)
18. Here Comes the Navy (1934)
19. The House of Rothschild (1934)
20. Imitation of Life (1934)
21. Viva Villa! (1934)
22. The White Parade (1934)
23. The Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)
24. David Copperfield (1935)
25. Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935)
26. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935)
27. Les Miserables (1935)
28. Naughty Marietta (1935)
29. Anthony Adverse (1936)
30. Libeled Lady (1936)
31. A Tale of Two Cities (1936)
32. The Good Earth (1937)
33. Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938)
34. Four Daughters (1938)
35. Test Pilot (1938)
36. Of Mice and Men (1939)
37. All This, and Heaven Too (1940)
38. The Great Dictator (1940)

39. The Long Voyage Home (1940)
40. Hold Back the Dawn (1941)
41. One Foot in Heaven (1941)
42. Sergeant York (1941)
43. Kings Row (1942)
44. Wake Island (1942)
45. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
46. Watch on the Rhine (1943)
47. Wilson (1944)
48. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
49. Great Expectations (1947)
50. *Hamlet (1948)
51. Father of the Bride (1950)
52. King Solomon’s Mines (1950)
53. Decision Before Dawn (1951)
54. Quo Vadis? (1951)
55. Julius Caesar (1953)
56. The Rose Tattoo (1955)
57. Friendly Persuasion (1956)
58. The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)
59. Sons and Lovers (1960)
60. Fanny (1961)
61. The Music Man (1962)
62. America, America (1963)
63. Cleopatra (1963)
64. Becket (1964)
65. Doctor Zhivago (1965)
66. A Thousand Clowns (1965)
67. The Sand Pebbles (1966)
68. *In the Heat of the Night (1967)
69. Doctor Dolittle (1967)
70. Romeo and Juliet (1968)
71. Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)
72. Z (1969)
73. American Graffiti (1973)
74. The Towering Inferno (1974)
75. Barry Lyndon (1975)
76. All the President’s Men (1976)
77. Bound For Glory (1976)
78. *The Deer Hunter (1978)
79. Heaven Can Wait (1978)
80. Tess (1980)
81. *Gandhi (1982)
82. Tender Mercies (1983)
83. Kiss of the Spiderwoman (1985)
84. Prizzi’s Honor (1985)
85. The Accidental Tourist (1988)
86. Mississippi Burning (1988)
87. My Left Foot (1989)
88. The Godfather: Part III (1990)
89. Goodfellas (1990)
90. The Prince of Tides (1991)
91. A Few Good Men (1992)
92. Howard’s End (1992)
93. In the Name of the Father (1993)
94. *Braveheart (1995)
95. Il Postino (1995)
96. Jerry Maguire (1996)
97. Good Will Hunting (1997)
98. The Sixth Sense (1999)
99. Traffic (2000)
100. Gangs of New York (2002)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Not-So-Silent Backlash & NBR Predictions

As the saying goes: ‘silence is golden’, but if many people have their way, the silent film that has so far won over several festival audiences and at least one major critics group, will not be crowned the best of 2011. Monday afternoon saw the announcement of the New York Film Critics Circle winners, as well as this year’s Indie Spirit nominations, both of which gave Michel Haznavicius’ “The Artist” a boost with Picture, Director, Leading Actor, and Cinematography notices. The aftermath of NYFCC’s awardage of the film with its two biggest prizes proved unexpectedly negative, the decision labelled safe, and the film denounced as a novelty by high-profile figures. “The Artist” isn’t terribly original because it’s an homage which lends plot devices from classic cinema, but it’s far more comfortable with what it is and tight in story-structure than most of the other frontrunners. It may not necessarily be a five-star film but it certainly trumps the likes of “The Descendants,” “The Help,” and “Midnight in Paris.”

It remains to be seen whether the film can build upon its New York win to mount a strong showing with the critics, which previously appeared unlikely. With its nose firmly put out-of-joint the National Board of Review votes for their ten best films today, and although “The Artist” seems within the mould of their admittedly old-fashioned preferences, I’m going to hold off on suggesting it can set the ball rolling for a sweep. This year feels like more of a scattered, spoil-sharing prospect after last year’s uniform endorsement of “The Social Network” – especially with voting bodies seemingly at war with one another. All things considered, “Moneyball” remains the best-reviewed film with realistic awards potential, so it makes sense for it to win a prize from a significant voting body (whatever your view on the NBR, their opinion carries weight).

The top ten is a minefield to predict, but you can be assured that they like political dramas, so this could be a handy get for the dwindling “The Ides of March,” and they always include Clint Eastwood’s films so expect “J. Edgar” to pop up here despite the disastrous reviews. From there, it gets tricky. Who knows if they’ll even remember those earlier acclaimed films “Beginners,” “Jane Eyre, “ and “Win Win”? Are “Melancholia,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and “Take Shelter” a bit too far outside of the box for this group? Your guess is as good as mine.

Picture: “Moneyball”
Alt: “The Artist”

Top Ten:
“The Artist”
“The Descendants”
“The Ides of March”
“J. Edgar”
“Midnight in Paris”
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
“The Tree of Life”
“War Horse”

Director: Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”
Alt: Terrence Malick, “The Tree of Life”

Leading Actress: Michelle Williams, “My Week with Marilyn”
Alt: Elizabeth Olsen, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”

Leading Actor: Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”
Alt: George Clooney, “The Descendants”

Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain, “The Help,” “Take Shelter,” “The Tree of Life”
Alt: Vanessa Redgrave, “Coriolanus”

Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”
Alt: Kenneth Branagh, “My Week with Marilyn”

Screenplay: “Moneyball”
Alt: “The Descendants”

Animated Feature: “Rango”
Alt: “Chico & Rita”

Foreign Film: “Certified Copy”
Alt: “A Separation”

Documentary: “Project Nim”
Alt: “The Interrupters”