Monday, October 31, 2011

Oscar Watch: Part 2

The world of predicting the Academy Awards is always shifting. As Fall moves along, more and more hopefuls fall off the radar into obscurity while a few here and there maintain the anticipation, and some even overcome any preconceived ideas of quality to be real contenders in the Oscar race. Today, I wanna catch up on my thoughts as to how the Oscars are shaping up at this point. We are still about four full months out from the actual ceremony, but only three from nominations day, and this is generally the time where campaigning starts to kick in full force.

So far, many of the movies I predicted to not stick their landing very well, have done just that. Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, while still could surprise in Best Picture, will be lucky if it can wrangle Leo a Best Actor bid. Where as another biopic, My Week With Marilyn, starring Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe, has found traction, not just for Williams' performance, but for Kenneth Branagh's performance as screen legend Laurence Olivier. This would be a perfect way to cap off a big year for Brannagh (having directed Thor), and I am gonna go ahead and say it, the way My Week With Marilyn has been playing and pleasing crowds so far, this is the dark horse Best Picture contender of the year. This does not make it a lock, this flick still has a long way to go, but I just wanna let it be known that it is slowly bubbling on the outside of the pack.

As for the movies that are still holding strong: The Artist is still a bona fide contender, same goes for The Help, as well as The Descendants starring George Clooney. There is still question marks about Clooney's The Ides of March figuring into Best Picture, I don't buy into it, but I am starting to warm up to the idea of Moneyball squeaking in there. With so many movies failing to meet lofty expectations, a safe bid like Moneyball could fill up a 6th or 7th slot in the Best Picture ballot, just saying. As for Stephen Daldry's 9/11 flick, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, there are still too many variables to consider before slinging it into the Best Picture race. While a Daldry film has never missed out on a Best Picture nod, there is always a first time for everything, so I'd toss this in the same hat as My Week With Marilyn.

As it is, the year of Steven Spielberg seems to be gaining momentum as we get nearer to year's end. The Adventures of Tintin recently opened across the UK to fantastic reviews, creating the thought that this might squeak into the Best Picture category like so many of Spielberg's populist flicks have done in the past (Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., need I continue). Now, being animated, and not by Pixar, may hold it back, but right now I am saying yes to a Best Picture nod. As for War Horse, it continues to grow in anticipation, still looking like typical Oscar bait, but the kind of Oscar bait that will stick around come the end of the year -- plus it just looks like a really good Spielberg movie.

Recently, Martin Scorsese's Hugo finally showed its face at the New York Film Fest., and the initial reactions were lukewarm at best, which is a shame, since I loved the book so much. As it is, I think Scorsese's latest may have found itself out of the race here, same going for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Reviewers call Tinker a well-crafted British production, but seeing the Academy, who tends to vote toward sentiment, vote for a slick, reserved spy movie, is almost impossible at this point, though I wouldn't count it out just yet (besides, it's pretty much a given this one will sweep the BAFTAS -- Britain's Academy honors).

So there you have the race as I see it right now. I only mentioned here the movies that were contenders at one time or still are, so is it possible something like The Tree of Life could get a last minute push in campaigning? Yes, but it is rare. Now, if you remember, last time I only predicted a scant five Best Picture nominees, this time I'm widening the field a bit to six. Here are my predictions at this juncture, with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and My Week With Marilyn waiting in the wings:

The Adventures of Tinin: The Secret of the Unicorn
The Artist
The Descendants
The Help
War Horse

As the race continues and I see more of these movies, I will get more in depth in the acting categories and tech. fields, so just stay tuned for my first predictions in the next month or so for Best Actor, Best Actress, and maybe even Best Director. Till then, I leave with the trailer for My Week With Marilyn. See what y'all think about its prospects:

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