I approve of and applaud this system, actually (and I know AMPAS was dying to know). It's hard, sometimes, to come up with a set number of great films for the year. I do a Top 25 and Bottom 10, and I'm thinking of retiring both -- first, I don't see enough movies in a year for those rankings to mean all that much; second, it's led to my "honoring" certain films just to fill the self-imposed quota (guys, The Proposal is a diverting, sometimes frustrating, but altogether harmless comedy that does not belong on a "worst of" list). I understand the frustration, so I can roll with the Academy deciding not to deal with it anymore. Of course, this means losing interesting titles in the Best Pic lineup, your District 9s and so forth, but it definitely makes the season more suspenseful, something that's been seriously lacking as of late.
So, this plus new buzz on some films leads me to believe that now is the time to adjust some of my predictions:
The Big Five
The Ides of March
In no particular order, these are the five that I think will make the cut no matter what. Hugo Cabret and The Descendants are my new additions, since I saw the trailer for the latter and read the former. With Cabret, I feel like you'd only be able to mess it up if you didn't have cinema coursing through your veins. If it was in the hands of a studio hire, maybe it wouldn't make the cut, but in the hands of a Movie Catholic (thank you, Jeff Wells) like Scorsese? Get outta here! It's guaranteed!
The Next Group
The Tree of Life
The Dangerous Method
The Iron Lady
Midnight in Paris
And this, for me, is in order of likelihood. The Tree of Life is getting mixed reviews, but Malick's fanbase is a devoted one. Then there's The Artist, the Cannes hit acquired by Oscar whisperers (thanks, Sasha Stone!) The Weinstein Company. It may be mostly silent, but I hear it's got heart. If biopics A Dangerous Method and The Iron Lady impress enough, they shouldn't find it hard to elbow their way in. The warm and charming Midnight in Paris is my wild card pick, just in case they go to Ten.
Among the three I've switched out is My Week with Marilyn (I've been hearing mehs). And if Marilyn is gone here, I might as well shoo it off the Best Director list. I don't see it happening unless it falls within that tower of love which you see above.
George Clooney, The Ides of March
David Cronenberg, A Dangerous Method
Clint Eastwood, J. Edgar
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Steven Spielberg, War Horse
Cronenberg gets the "sorry we've ignored you for so long" nomination, with Hazanavicius as the "oh holy shit this is artistic brilliance" nomination. I understand I have more confidence than most in The Dangerous Method's chances, but we can't all be pussies.
More predictions after the cut....
Also gone from my Best Pic lineup: Super 8, and it's gone because I've seen it.
Don't misunderstand me. This is not a case of a film not getting in because it's obviously shit. No, I rather loved Super 8. A lot. I've seen it twice already, and the second time deepened my understanding of the characters, my appreciation for the screenplay and my love of the film as a whole. Joel Courtney behaves like an actual human being, never overplaying his emotions as some child actors are wont to do. Ah, but when we are given the big, loud, movie kids in his group of friends, they are more reassuring than irritating. They remind me of the friends that I've had growing up, some I still speak to, some whose names I barely remember.
Michael Giacchino's score is the best thing he's done since Speed Racer, suspenseful and moving -- it's thanks to him, the actors, and JJ Abrams' skillful direction that I wound up tearing out three times throughout the film...ending with a cathartic sob for the beauty and passion I was seeing. And, of course, Elle Fanning, whose performance has everyone genuflecting, and with good reason. The girl's fucking amazing, much looser than, yet as controlled as, her sister Dakota. Between her and Ronan, this is quite a crop of young actressing we've got this year.
So why have I left it out? Because while it may be perfect fodder for the Hollmann Awards, it just doesn't seem like it'll play with the Academy. The monster may be misunderstood, but it's hardly complacent. The action scenes, admittedly, are way too over the top. The story and character beats don't fully gel on first viewing (on second viewing, everything makes sense and works beautifully). It's a sci-fi actioner starring kids, but it's not Spielbergy enough, truth be told. It's Abrams. If it continues to do well, I can see it getting a PGA nomination, but it would take some kind of miracle to get Oscar attention outside of VFX and Sound. Even Original Screenplay is a long shot, since most agree that that is it's weakest aspect. I know, I know: the critics aren't the ones voting, but if I can't get my 20-something co-workers excited for it, how on earth can I get the Academy on my side?
Of course, with Super 8 and The Tree of Life both getting poo-poohed for their screenplays, that means it's time to reevaluate that lineup:
The Artist - Michel Hazanavicius
J. Edgar - Dustin Lance Black
The Iron Lady - Abi Morgan, Michael Hirst
Midnight in Paris - Woody Allen
Win Win - Thomas McCarthy, Joe Tiboni
I still have confidence in Win Win. Love for Midnight in Paris and The Artist could get them noticed here, and if I'm keeping The Iron Lady in Best Pic, why not predict it here as well? Meanwhile, over in Adapted:
Albert Nobbs - Glenn Close, John Banville
The Dangerous Method - Christopher Hampton
The Descendants - Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
The Ides of March - George Clooney, Grant Heslov
The War Horse - Lee Hall, Richard Curtis
Despite leaving Albert Nobbs out of my Best Picture predictions this time, I still think Glenn Close's devotion to the project will get it noticed here. If The Descendants gets nothing in Director, it's bound to still be lauded here. How often has Payne been ignored for his writing? Never? I can see Hugo Cabret being regarded more as a director's film than a writer's (even though it's adapted), leaving the way clear for Clooney's The Ides of March.
Exhausting work, this prediction business, but that just leaves the actors now:
George Clooney, The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Michael Fassbender, The Dangerous Method
Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March
Gary Oldman, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Ides of March
Jeremy Irvine, War Horse
Viggo Mortensen, The Dangerous Method
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Plummer stays, of course, and the praise he's been getting only convinces me more that he's a lock for a nom. Mortensen stays because, in my mind, this is the year Oscar goes cuckoo for Cronenberg. Instead of Peter Mullan, Spielberg's great work with young actors should finally pay off here with Jeremy Irvine as the titular horse's faithful owner. Philip Seymour Hoffman is sure to be very Philip Seymour Hoffman-y in what I hear is a showy role. And instead of Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh reportedly steals the show as Laurence Olivier. Oscar loves actors playing actors!
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Keira Knightley, The Dangerous Method
Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
Having now seen two trailers for One Day, I'm having doubts about Hathaway's chances. Knightley for The Dangerous Method I can see, though. As Close proved with Fatal Attraction, Oscar kind of digs a crazy hot chick.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Viola Davis, The Help
Judi Dench, J. Edgar
Elle Fanning, Super 8
Elizabeth Reaser, Young Adult
Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus
Ok, so why Fanning and Davis instead of Bellucci and Chastain, especially considering (a) what I just wrote about Fanning's film, and (b) Davis is the lead of her film? I'm glad you asked. See, The Help has two leads, Skeeter (Emma Stone) and Aibileen (Davis). Sometimes a film with two leads demotes one of them to supporting (Brokeback Mountain); besides, black women have a better chance int he supporting category (terrible but true). As for Fanning, she's been getting those STAR IS BORN raves, and you know how Oscar loves adolescents. Also, a lot of wishful thinking. Meanwhile, Malick's films are rarely seen as actor-oriented, and what talk there is surrounds the men. I also thought Bellucci was one of the women sold into prostitution, but it turns out her role is more like Meryl Streep in Rendition.
That's where we are now. Maybe it's a lot of wishful thinking, but when you're doing strange things like this in June, you have to wish. WISH BIG.