Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Oscar Watch: Part 6

It's December, that's right, which means we're now in the thick of awards season. The announcement of Oscar nominees are less than two months away, and I think it's about time I updated my predictions for the ten Best Picture nominees.

Lots has happened since the last time. The Lovely Bones, Invictus, and Nine were finally unleashed upon critics, and I believe it is now safe to make a good judgment about these three film's Oscar chances. As well, more is understood as Avatar draws nearer, and I'm beginning to get a vibe that is a touch different than the rest of the film analysts around the net. As well, there is one film I think has risen to become a strong candidate in the Best Picture race, one that I deeply admire, but I did not think it had a legitimate shot till a few weeks ago. But first, let's start with the films that are pretty much guaranteed a spot in the ten come January.

Right now the clear frontrunners in the Best Picture race are four films: Precious-Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire, Up in the Air, The Hurt Locker, and An Education. Those four films right there I think are locked in place, and no matter what other films make it or get excluded come time for the nominations to be announced, I think these four will for sure be there. Simply put, critics and people in the industry like these four films too much for them to not be. Now into more murky waters, where this game turns into more of a guessing game than anything else.

First up are the big three of December, the three films that have been chatted up for Oscars since the beginning of this year. The Lovely Bones, Invictus, and Nine. All three have finally hit the fan, and critics are dishing out their verdicts.

Predictably, The Lovely Bones has received a mixed reaction from critics, but that does not mean its Oscar chances are over. The critics that have given it positive reviews seem to adore it, and I've heard of very positive feelings coming out of Guild and Academy screenings in Hollywood, so I think the film will have just enough champions to keep it in the race, although a win isn't very likely unless something changes.

On the flip side, Invictus has been receiving very positive reviews, of course none of the reviewers seem to be gushing over the film calling it a masterpiece. While I think the film will be solid enough to make it into the ten, I don't think it will bring home the gold.

Then there is Nine, which has been receiving positive reviews thus far, but I've heard many critics say it is merely a piece of entertainment and not an artistic statement. While the Academy has a history of enjoying musicals, and the Weinsteins always seem to get their way, I'm predicting an upset when it comes to Nine and it will most likely miss out on the top category. Now onto one of the bigger ones in contention.

Avatar is drawing steadily closer. As of now there are no officials reviews on the film, other than the usual murmurings of rumored screenings and whatnot, but nothing substantial. While many analysts seem to think that Avatar will wind up in the ten at year's end, I'm beginning to feel that it will probably be supplemented by another big blockbuster. Cause sure, while Avatar might be a gamechanger, are its technological achievements enough to warrant it a Best Picture slot when the story is very similar to countless video games and stuff like Ferngully? Of course, which film can supplement Avatar? This is where my plea for Star Trek comes in.

Star Trek is my favorite film of the year thus far, and if any big blockbuster got the nomination to be in the ten, it should be J. J. Abrams bold reimagining of the classic TV series. Think about it. The film was adored by critics, played extremely well to audiences, and made a fair amount of money. It reminds me of the case for something like Raiders of the Lost Ark or Star Wars to get nominated way back in the day. Hey, if those films could garner a nomination when there was only five nominees, then why not Star Trek when there are ten possible nominees?

The rest of the ten will most likely be shaped up with the likes of the Coen Brothers, A Serious Man, and the Jeff Bridges' starrer, Crazy Hearts (this is Fox Searchlight's last hope for Best Picture contention, so I believe it will get the biggest push from them). The only film that I keep on feeling is on shaky ground as January looms near is Up. I'm still wondering, even with ten nominees, if the Academy will recognize an animated film? Of course, I'm just gonna bite the bullet and say they will.

Currently this is how I see the nominations panning out come January:

Precious-Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire
Star Trek
Up in the Air
Crazy Hearts
An Education
The Lovely Bones
A Serious Man
The Hurt Locker

And that does it for this edition of Oscar Watch. What do ya think?

(P.S. Keep a look out as I plan to do a new edition of Oscar Watch each and every week leading up to the nominations of the Academy Awards. Each week I'll be talking on a different category. Directing, Acting, Screenwriting, the Tech Categories. As well, I will do another look at the Best Picture race after stuff like the Golden Globes nominations are announced. So don't miss it.)


  1. i don't think Lovely Bones has a good shot at all anymore. Invictus - maybe, but eastwood is getting kinda bland according to a lot of people who have seen it. Instead I think "The Road" is becoming a possible contender along with probably some unmentioned foreign film. there's totally going to be one nominated for best picture and you'll have no clue what it is until they announce. Hollywood's biggest investors are all foreign now, so they have to do a lil payback and give them some lovin.' I agree with the stuff about avatar but it all remains to be seen. Right now it seems their marketing is all hype and the public is starting to catch wind of it. A lot remains to be seen but good article. nice stuff!

  2. While "The Road" has its supporters, the reaction to it was too similar to "The Lovely Bones". Both "The Road" and "The Lovely Bones" have received mixed reactions for the most part, but they do have their champions. Only one of them will wind up in Oscar contention, and I think the force of Peter Jackson will get "The Lovely Bones" the nom. As for a foreign film finding itself in competition, I think if one did manage to sneak in there it'd either "Sin Nombre" from Mexico or the hit documentary on the festival circuit, "The Cove".