(The annual “Will Win/Should Win” of the Awards Circuit has been our most popular yet most challenging series where each writer let’s their final thoughts be known on the Oscar categories. Each writer will reveal their choices everyday leading up to the Oscar ceremony. Think you can do better? Let your final thoughts be known in the comment section or by joining our Oscar Pool. -CD)
Naturally compared to Ang Lee’s harrowing film The Ice Storm (1997), director Julie Dyer teamed up with sister and writer Gretchen Dyer attempt to bring an honest and emotional take on 1970′s suburbia in the morose and grim, The Playroom. Starring Academy Award Nominee John Hawkes, Molly Parker, and Olivia Harris, the story takes place in the attic where the four children of Martin (Hawkes) and Donna Cantwell (Parker) tell fantastical tales while their parents fall deeper in a drunken state downstairs with friends Clark and Nadia.
The SAG bells rang today but they rang for many surprising and jaw-dropping exclusions. As going on record stating this is the most competitive Oscar race I’ve covered in years. Not one category seems assured with their lineups and we got many curveballs thrown at us this morning.
In Best Supporting Actress, Amy Adams was left off for performance in The Master, a turn many of cited wasn’t in the same league as co-stars Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Sally Field in Lincoln, Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables, and Helen Hunt in The Sessions, all made their appearances as expected. With Maggie Smith announcing she wasn’t going to be campaigning, she still managed to pull in four nominations for herself including her performance in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Nicole Kidman jumped back into the race for a film that was pulverized by critics. While her role in The Paperboy is quite extraordinary, the film that surrounds her doesn’t do any favors. Older members of the Academy might find it difficult to get passed some of the more controversial scenes. Also missing big here was Ann Dowd from Compliance, something that really needed a boost from the acting branch. Many pundits have speculated on the possibility of Samantha Barks finding wiggle room into the race along side co-star Hathaway for Les Miserables. That notion may have just been put to bed. Read more on SAG Nomination Analysis – What Does It All Mean?…
As LAFCA, NYFCO, and BSFC all proved yesterday, you can’t keep a good ol’ film when its down. The Master resurrected after being nearly shut out thus far and won Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress with the prestigious Los Angeles Film Critics.
Normally, and I mean in any other year, I wouldn’t put so much stock into these awards but with SAG ballots due today, Critics Choice Nominations being announced tomorrow, followed by Golden Globes and SAG, Oscar will be looking for some validation of their choices. AMPAS ballots are due January 10 and they’ll be looking for some guidance in places where they can. DGA won’t announce until after the Oscar nominations.
I’ve made some updates to the Oscar Predictions and most notable is the change in Supporting Actor. Robert DeNiro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Tommy Lee Jones all still seem good for nods. The big win for Dwight Henry yesterday from LAFCA and the many runner-up mentions for Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained have started a buzz that only seems deserving. The latter performance I’m not allowed to comment on until Wednesday but I’ll say it’s something that many can get behind and in THE RIGHT category. Ann Dowd makes her appearance in the top five for Compliance and if you heard our Awards Circuit Power Hour yesterday, she’s very likable and will play the awards circuit very well.
Tomorrow morning, the Critics Choice Awards will bestow their nominees for the world to see. While it might sound biased, I very much respect the organization’s choices more times than not. While their known for predicting the outcome of the Academy Awards, they do reward powerful and eclectic cinema when everyone else seems to be ignoring.
Last year the ten Best Picture nominees were:
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
As we all know, there were nine Best Picture nominees chosen by the Academy last year and ALL nine are represented. The group may be more telling then meets the eye, at least in Best Picture. The acting awards usually have their fair share of Academy picks but as you we see with nominations for Carey Mulligan for Shame, Ryan Gosling for Drive, Michael Fassbender for Shame, and Patton Oswalt for Young Adult, the group often chooses the “more” deserving and not the one’s with the “buzz.”
Below, find my predictions for the organization. The Critics Choice Movie Awards airs LIVE on January 10, 2013. Better yet, the BFCA is introducing several new categories including “Favorite Fan Franchise,” where The Awards Circuit will be one of the voting beacons for all fans to vote. Get ready! Read more on Critics’ Choice Movie Awards Preview…
In 2007 no one saw the Best Actor nomination for Tommy Lee Jones in In the Valley of Elah (2007), it was one of those happy surprises that reminded us the acting branch really does watch the films and pay some attention. Way back in 1975 there was another such shock when James Whitmore received a Best Actor nod for his filmed stage show Give ‘em Hell Harry (1975), though it was not quite as deserving as Jones’ nomination.
With the strong reviews coming in for Brad Pitt in Killing Them Softly (2012), could he knock out one of the so-called locks and be in the category come Oscar night? He is well liked, the Academy likes him, critics like him and he has grown substantially as an actor through the years. For my money he should have been nominated for Best Actor for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) and for Babel (2006). Last year he won the New York Film Critics Award for Best Actor for Moneyball (2011) and was an Oscar nominee, and I think discounting him this year is a huge mistake. Read more on The Underestimation of the Lead Actor Brad Pitt in ‘Killing Them Softly’…
In Sam Mendes’ Skyfall, the 23rd installment in the James Bond franchise and the first since 2008, MI6 - and more notably M (Judi Dench) – is under attack by former operative Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), and it is up to James Bond (Daniel Craig) to once again thwart the evildoer’s plans before they come to fruition.
As the awards season is underway, multiple scenarios are playing out in my mind suggesting what can occur for the remainder of the year. Films like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Zero Dark Thirty are still sight unseen with Django Unchained and Promised Land about to get their first set of eyes. Last week Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables debuted a full-length trailer featuring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne, and Amanda Seyfried all showing some singing skills. Supporting Actress frontrunner Anne Hathaway was shown singing “I Dreamed a Dream” for the third time in the Universal Pictures marketing, which leads me to my point of the Oscar Circuit.
The trailer for Les Miserables didn’t do the film any favors. The clunky production design, unnecessary wide-angles, and even the live singing on set didn’t seem as great as I’d thought it’d be. In this latest round of Oscar Predictions, I’ve decided to back from Tom Hooper’s film a little bit. Where momentum and prestige is on the side of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and Ben Affleck’s Argo, big stage musicals transferred to film aren’t always safe bets. What makes this notion of the film failing to impress even more compelling is Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. If Anne Hathaway were to fall out of the Supporting Actress race, who could win the award in her absence? There are arguably three slots taken in Supporting Actress with Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), and Helen Hunt (The Sessions). If it’s between those three for the win, Adams will be on her fourth nomination with the other two ladies having Oscars already. Field herself would be 3 for 3 for Oscar nominations, something hard to envision happening. Hunt has had a hard time post-Oscar win and isn’t as beloved as her competitors. This could all work out for the young Amy Adams. Read more on Oscar Circuit – “Master” of Networking?…
We spoke about this possibility on a podcast a few weeks back but it seems that a source as confirmed to Tom O’Neil of Gold Derby that Academy Award Winner Christoph Waltz will be campaigned as a lead actor in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming Django Unchained. Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx, who plays a slave-turned-bounty hunter that is searching for his wife will compete against Waltz along with the entire roster of the Weinstein Company. Read more on Gold Derby Confirms Christoph Waltz being campaigned as Lead Actor…
Writing this LIVE in the middle of Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, what’s a better time to talk about Oscar Predictions than now. As we enter the leg of the season this November, some categories start to look more clear and less of a mystery. Some films also emerge as the ones to beat.
This past weekend Ben Affleck’s Argotook the #1 spot at the Box Office with the word-of-mouth spreading, the film, at this point, looks like the one to beat in Best Picture and Best Director. In response to the acting possibilities, some think that Affleck could show up like Clint Eastwood did in the year of Million Dollar Baby (2004) in Best Actor. It’s hard to imagine Daniel Day-Lewis, John Hawkes, and Joaquin Phoenix missing out on nominations with Denzel Washington in a comfortable fourth spot. Affleck and about fifteen other leading hopefuls are fighting for the fifth spot. Richard Gere’s goodwill charm and the lack of Oscar nominations to his credit may catapult him forward to his first mention in his forty-year career in Nicholas Jarecki’s Arbitrage. The film itself could follow the way of last year’s Margin Call, which surprised with an Original Screenplay mention on Oscar nomination morning.
With this week’s release of new features, it’s unlikely Taken 2 or Argo will be topped at the box office, unless there’s a hidden gem imposter among them. Whether it’s thrills, chills, or laughs you’re looking for, here’s what’s on the menu:
In Ben Lewin’s The Sessions, Academy Award nominee John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone) plays real-life writer Mark O’Brien, a man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity. The movie has been buzzed about in awards circles all year, and the early reviews from the Sundance Film Festival promise that The Sessions delivers a powerful and touching tale inspired by a true story. With the release of The Sessions coming this weekend, and with the reactions from the “secret screening” of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln dominating the web last week, it seems as good a time as any to take a look at and rank the ten greatest biopics ever made. Have a look at my rankings after the jump, and feel welcomed to leave your own top ten in the comments section following. Read more on Ranking the 10 Greatest Biopics…
It was only a matter of time before someone gave John Hawkes a true starring role in a film to run with. That man is writer/director Ben Lewin and the movie in question is the charming dramedy ‘The Sessions’. Hawkes absolutely owns the screen playing real life Polio victim and poet Mark O’Brien, a man who sought in his late 30′s to lose his virginity. This is an incredibly likable film, from Hawkes’ tremendous lead performance to the excellent supporting turns from Helen Hunt and William H. Macy, all the way to the consistently optimistic tone that this flick takes, even when things threaten to get dark. Lewin has a strong handle on the material and lets his actors have at it with zeal, resulting in a movie that’s hard not to like. I may not be quite as in love with it as many are, but I certainly had fun with it and wouldn’t gripe if it wound up one of the nominees for Best Picture when all is said and done. You can write Hawkes in with ink for a Best Actor nod and Hunt is a lock for a likely Best Supporting Actress nomination as well. This movie opens later on this week and should begin winning over audiences shortly thereafter. It certainly won me over with its deft handling of tone and overall good feeling that it leaves you with.
The first time I really took notice of John Hawkes was during his stint on the brilliant HBO series Deadwood, where he portrayed gentle Sol Starr. When pushed Starr could brandish a weapon with the best of them, but he chose to be a different sort of man in the brutal world that was the old west. His best friend was Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) a hot-headed lawyer, fast to fly off the handle, deadly with a weapon, and to whom Starr was often the conscience of the partnership. Though the series was crowded with fine acting, Hawkes was a standout, and began to show up in films being released, Miami Vice (2006) being one of the first that saw Hawkes in a decent role. Read more on The Sessions (****)…
At last! The BFI London Film Festival 2012 hasarrived. Since receiving press honours for the site last month I’ve been counting down the days to this great city’s very own film fest. Who said my North American counterparts should have all the fun? Although the festival officially kicked off this evening, with the European premiere of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, I managed to take in four early press screenings earlier today, and honestly there wasn’t a bad egg among them.
Stay tuned over the next week and a half for all of the latest from London; I’ll be working around the clock to bring you reviews of everything I manage to see. Here’s the first instalment of what I saw on Day 1…
Steven Spielberg delivers his finest work since Minority Report (2002) with his politically charged and emotionally timely film, Lincoln. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis in the pivotal role of Abraham Lincoln, the film tells the story of the last months of Lincoln’s presidency and his mission to abolish slavery during the time of the civil war.
Tony Kushner adapts the screenplay with clever candor and surprisingly humorous dialogue. Lincoln takes on such a life force of its near two-and-a-half hour runtime but never lets up on its thematic elements or attempts to take the easy route of cheap period satire that wears thin in other films about a dark time in America’s history. The film doesn’t just focus on Lincoln, the political messiah sent to save America from evil, its non-dictum method in retelling a story with so many surrounding characters gives Abe a unique and accessible outlook for a viewer to latch onto, no matter what the viewer may or may not know about him.
Ladies and gentlemen, we come now to part 3 of the Sizing up series. This one is as close to an all-encompassing grouping of the hopefuls for Best Actor as possible (excluding some no shot contenders). I’m looking to categorize them by their assumed likelihood of a nomination come the big morning, but clearly there’s plenty of guesswork at play here as well. For my money, this is the most competitive category outside of Best Picture and possibly Best Director. There’s a bunch of top-tier contenders that all could win, let alone get nominated, so this is a bit of a top-heavy category.
This year’s race for the Academy Award for Best Actor will have no shortage of worthy nominees; in fact I daresay they could nominate five worthy actors right now. However there are still many more performances to be unveiled, work that will end up in the category, work that will not, disappointing audiences, the Academy and critics. Already I think we have seen a preview of that, though Clay might disagree in Bill Murray’s highly touted work in Hyde Park on Hudson, which after seeing at TIFF I felt would slowly drop out of sight and out of contention. The film’s reception at Telluride was weak, and in Toronto the same thing happened, with a rather shocked audience filing out mumbling about the disappointment they were feeling. I have stated already, Murray is never bad, weak or anything remotely negative, just not strong enough to be an Academy Award nominee. It is merely a good performance and lined up alongside the ones I think have a chance so far, it looks oddly out of place, which of course means nothing. Read more on Lead Actor Overstuffed…
After seeing Trouble with the Curve, at best a two star movie, with the Amy Adams performance the finest in the film, I think it is safe to say that there will be no Best Actor Oscar nomination for eighty two year old Clint Eastwood this year. It is simply not a very good film, and Eastwood’s performance, though entertaining is of the “been there, done that” school, the same sort of cranky old bird we saw in Gran Torino (2008). Now the first time we saw Eastwood in this mode it was interesting, and I quite liked his work in Gran Torino (2008) but to see him do almost exactly the same thing in this film was tiresome and more than a little disappointing. Any chance, any talk of an Oscar nod for Eastwood will stop within the week, if it has not already ceased. Read more on The Sun Has Set in the Eastwood…
So what now? With screenings finished, TIFF closed, and New York’s Film Festival looming, how will TIFF impact the Oscar race? Believe it or not it has already begun; in fact it was happening as TIFF was playing out. You could hear the chatter in the theaters, press rooms, and hallways as critics talked with various producers, studio PR folk, or those in the know about how the Oscar race was changing. One thing I heard over and over is that all eyes are on three films for the year end, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, the musical Les Miserables, and Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty. The feeling seems to be until those films are screened and reaction begins to trickle out, one cannot really, truly predict the race, though as we all know, you cannot do that anyway. A conversation which took place behind me was between two executives who had seen a good portion of the footage from Les Miserables, and one of them stated, “it’s unlike any musical ever made, it captures the emotion of the play.” That is good news, and then Thursday night and Friday morning the talk was the Lincoln trailer, which impressed nearly everyone I heard or talked too, in particular the performance of two time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis. Read more on TIFF and the Aftermath…
Only a handful of press screenings today, nothing for me. Of all the festivals I have attended this one ranks with one of the very best, better than most, though nothing will ever beat 1997. That was very special, loaded with great films.
This year the best film I saw was Amour, which impacted me in a way I did not think possible after reviewing movies for so long. The weakest one for me was To the Wonder. a bizarre experience in a theater, and ninety minutes (no kidding!) of my life I would like back please. The bold daring and vision of Cloud Atlas stirred my emotions, and the gentle humor of Quartet will not be easily forgotten. Jennifer Lawrence knocked me out in Silver Linings Playbook, never to be thought of the same again, and though Bill Murray arrived with Oscar hopes high, he leaves with them deflated a tad in Hyde Park on Hudson. Not that it is a bad performance, it’s not at all, we are just seeing more and more performances that are much stronger. Read more on TIFF: All Good Things Come to an End……
We have been waiting for the trailer for Steven Spielberg’s historical biopic, Lincoln, for months and from where I’m standing today, it was well worth the wait. Daniel Day-Lewis stars as the titular 16th President of the United States in a role that seems almost certain to land him his fifth Academy Award nomination (and, perhaps, his third win). The biographical drama takes place at the end of the Civil War, and focuses on Lincoln’s pursuit to abolish slavery and deliver the Emancipation Proclamation, while he desperately tries to hold a divided nation together. Check out the trailer after the jump!
John Hawkes and Helen Hunt deliver in Ben Lewin’s “The Sessions”
Everything we have heard about The Sessions is true. The film is a miracle of a movie, the sort of film that enables cinema in every way. The capacity press screening sat and were with the film throughout, laughing when they should have, weeping when it was necessary and felt moved when they needed too. How do I know this? I listened to the comments on the way out of the theater and saw more than one damp eye. Fox has every right to be confident of where this film is going, and its target is the Oscar for Best Picture.
This soul stroking film is the sort of film that enables cinema in every way, from the superb performances of the actors, the gentle direction and excellent, compassionate screenplay that pulls no punches and yet manages to be deeply moving. What I found remarkable about the work was that it explored how people should treat one another, how kindnesses are not difficult, and actually bring out the best in humanity. Read more on TIFF: The Sessions (****)…