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David Poland

By David Poland

20 Weeks To Oscar

You have folks who consider those two frontrunners weak. (Recently, someone close to one of them, who really loves the film, still doubted its likelihood of winning Best Picture.) So who should the frontrunner be?
Four of the five nominees last year cost less than $20 million to produce. The options to match that stat this year are Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen and…. and… anyone… anyone?
In an interesting side note, Little Miss Sunshine’s gross is almost identical to Crash’s and The Queen is headed to the same neighborhood.

The Rest, plus new charts

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53 Responses to “20 Weeks To Oscar”

  1. Sam says:

    I was surprised to see that you had listed “locks” for four of the five Best Actress slots. Then I was triply surprised when I discovered I agreed with you. How astonishingly early it is for a category to be 80% ironed out like that. Certainly none of the other categories are even as close to as solidified.

  2. Ladymerlin says:

    Two things:
    1. It’s Blanchett, not Blanchette
    2. The Prestige is an adapted screenplay, not an original screenplay.

  3. jeffmcm says:

    “I just hope for more and more and more great films. That’s all.”
    I would be happy with more than the two or three we’ve gotten so far in this dull, mediocre movie year.
    I salute Dave for having the sensibility to not put Sacha Baron Cohen in his top 5. Also Steve Carell’s name is spelled wrong.

  4. SpamDooley says:

    It’s sad that you have nothing better to do that debate a meaningless award that you will never receive.
    I am Spam Dooley and I Fight with Repulsor Rays!

  5. jeffmcm says:

    GO AWAY!!!

  6. palmtree says:

    I second that.
    Who’s more sad…the person debating a “meaningless” award or the person debating the person debating the award?

  7. The Carpetmuncher says:

    The trailer for THE GOOD GERMAN looks…how shall I say…Kafka-esque?

  8. I’d say Winslet is far from a lock right now. I don’t expect the film to play well enough amongst the Academy, and in a street fight with Annette Bening, Winslet doesn’t have Warren Beatty in her hhip pocket.
    The only lock in that category is Mirren at this stage.

  9. palmtree says:

    What happened to the old adage “there’s no such thing as a lock?”

  10. lazarus says:

    Judi Dench a lock?
    Aren’t people a bit sick of her at this point? And I don’t quite believe AMPAS putting 2 old British ladies on the roster. Not when they’re looking for the surprising newcomers and movie star hotties deglamming.
    No reason why Penelope Cruz shouldn’t make it in. If they were receptive enough to Almodovar to give him the attention before, Volver will get a fair shot at everything.

  11. Josh Massey says:

    Not impressed with the trailer for “The Good German” at all. I love Soderbergh and Clooney, but it just looks like a bunch of actors playing dress-up.
    A nomination for “Little Miss Sunshine” won’t bother me nearly as much as the one for “Crash” did,… but come on. That’s a good movie, not a great film.

  12. Sam says:

    “And I don’t quite believe AMPAS putting 2 old British ladies on the roster.”
    Why not? It happened in 1997, with Judi Dench and Julie Christie as two of four British nominees in the Best Actress category. It can happen again.

  13. waterbucket says:

    I’m glad Trash won the Oscar.

  14. But this year there’s also Meryl Streep. That would make two 60+ Brits and a 58-year-old American. And what? Fighting it out against, possibly, a 48-year-old American in Bening as well as youngens Cruz, Winslet and (comparatively) Blanchett.
    “Then you have folks who consider those two frontrunners weak. (Recently, someone close to one of them, who really loves the film, still doubted its likelihood of winning Best Picture.) So who should the frontrunner be? ”
    Well, if it’s The Good German they’re talking about is the doubt because of it being in black and white? And if it’s Dreamgirls is their doubt because it’s a “black” film. Because those are, sadly, legitimate concerns for a potential Best Picture winner.
    Helen Mirren is a lock, yes. Meryl Streep is a lock, almost 100% definitely. Kate Winslet? No way. Not if her film continues to languish at the lower rungs. Judi Dench? Sure, they love Judi, but NOBODY HAS SEEN THE FILM! How can anyone say Dench is a lock? My predicted 5 right now are (in order of probability) Mirren, Streep, Cruz, Blanchett, Winslet. Yes, I think Cruz is #3 right now. She’ll be working the campaign, she gives a stunning performance (if everyone who’s seen it is to be believed) and she’s young and sexy.
    Agreed that The Queen is looking sturdier as the season goes for a BP nod. And, I know he’s a dick, but Tom whatshisname is saying Pirsuit of Happyness is a BP contender.
    Is this the first time that a director has the #1 on the director’s chart, yet his film isn’t even in the top 5? I find it strange you don’t even have Almodovar in your Directors list.
    I also don’t understand how you say the Academy will be “warmer” to Notes on a Scandal yet The Good German is the Blanchett film at #2 on your BP chart.
    I am predicting Nicholson goes Lead honestly and that Leo gets nommed for The Blood Diamond.
    Thank You For Smoking is good for a screenplay nod? Say it ain’t so…
    (i know this was long, sorry)

  15. James Leer says:

    Well, I’ve seen the film. And Judi Dench is a lock.

  16. Blackcloud says:

    “A genous perfomance, but requires a real wave of phenomenology”
    Somehow I doubt Husserl or Heidegger is going to be what puts Cohen over the top, if he gets there.

  17. Wrecktum says:

    Dreamgirls is still a lock for best pic? Even after that pedestrian trailer released today? Okaay….

  18. Aladdin Sane says:

    Gotta agree with Wrecktum, that trailer for Dreamgirls leaves something to be desired. The montage they released online earlier in the year was a much more effective preview.
    Still, the trailer isn’t as bad as the poster. It’s fugly.

  19. Aladdin Sane says:
    There’s the poster I’m referring to…I prefer the blue colour scheme of the site and the trailer…the red is too much.

  20. SpamDooley says:

    jeffty is five
    I hope you get mangled by a street sweeper you fucking filth
    I am Spam Dooley and I spit on your grave!

  21. jeffmcm says:

    What about Palmtree? Shall he be thrown into a trash compactor or merely have vultures peck at his eyes, and what bodily fluid will you expel upon his burial site, if any?

  22. The trailer was pedestrian because they wanna sell tickets! Why sell the movie as anything other than a big ol’ Hollywood musical? I see no point in making some crazy obscure trailer that will just alienate people.
    “Well, I’ve seen the film. And Judi Dench is a lock.”
    In a Mrs Brown way or a Mrs Henderson way? YAWN either way. I loved her in both, but even I realise she couldn’t done Mrs Henderson Presents asleep in a foreign country.

  23. Rob says:

    The atrocious reviews for Running with Scissors mean Bening has to have fallen behind at this point, right?
    And for those doubting Winslet, remember that box office is irrelevant in the Best Actress race. I’m sure Little Children will finish with more money than Tumbleweeds, Afterglow and Vera Drake.

  24. BostonGuy says:

    I was surprised that Ryan Gosling wasn’t even mentioned as a possibility for HALF NELSON. It’s a great performance, and it has to pick up some critics recognition.

  25. Nicol D says:

    Scorsese will get his Susan Lucci award finally this year. Departed is very good, but also very safe. It is Scorsese doing what he does best, but it did not feel fresh to me.
    He played Gimme Shelter 3 times and gives you the ‘Goodfellas’, up from the floor shot as Leo kicks the crap out of a guy in a bar. It is a good enough film that one can justify giving him the award, but also say it is for his career.
    Again, I liked it but unlike many Scorsese films it required mondo suspension of disbelief. Felt very ‘movie-ish’. Good for him, but I wish he didn’t want it so damn much.
    That United 93 and Paul Greengrass are not being considered or talked about as being in the running for Best Picture/Director is yet one more blight on the credibility of Oscar.

  26. Argen says:

    I wouldn’t count Greengrass or U93 out yet. It’s been a lame year and even some of the Oscar “frontrunners” are underwhelming (i.e. FOOF). Until recently, U93 was the best film of the year. I think it will at least get nominations for director and maybe picture, despite what the prognosticators say.
    But since this was a lame year I think we’ll see a lot of account balancing. Give Marty his, give O’Toole his, and push some reds into the black. That is unless Dreamgirls lives up to its rep and The Greatest Movie No One Has Even Seen Yet and then all bets are off.

  27. James Leer says:

    This is not a sleepwalking performance from Judi Dench. It’s a thrillingly scary one that keeps the film from spinning off its axis.

  28. The Carpetmuncher says:

    I’m not sure what movie ya’ll saw that makes you think UNITED 93 is even gonna get a wiff of a nomination for anything. That film was garbage, it’s was like watching a historical recreation on the History Channel. Not a surprising, interesting thing in it. A total waste of time.
    WORLD TRADE CENTER is the one that has a chance to get the 9/11 votes sympathy votes, for lack of a better phrase. And despite hate from the left, it’s a deserving film with a human message. It stands a good chance for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, and if there is any justice, should sweep the sound awards, brilliant work there.
    Gosling should definitely get more burn, but it’s such a small movie, and no one’s seen it…but he certainly put down a marker with that one, that’s some serious talent right there…
    Nicholson, Streep, and Scorcese should all walk away with awards, which means star power is gonna be huge…
    Brad Pitt should be nominated as well, which means HUGE Star wattage….

  29. jeffmcm says:

    Once again, I have to state that WORLD TRADE CENTER is the boring TV movie and UNITED 93 is the quiet masterpiece of the two, but I agree with Carpetmuncher that it’s also the movie more likely to get awards attention, if for no other reason than because the studio is pushing it and Universal doesn’t care about U93.
    I would expect Gosling will probably walk away with the Independent Spirit award for best actor, Nicholson and Streep will be the big-name nominees for their categories but will not win – their performances were fun but not deep.

  30. jeffmcm says:

    Sorry, I meant “WTC is the movie more likely to get awards attention” up there.

  31. Cadavra says:

    Well, if you’re talking about deserving nominees in pics no one has seen or is likely to, let me offer up Kristen Scott Thomas’ amazing turn in the wonderful British black comedy KEEPING MUM. A really complex and tricky role that she pulls off with startling conviction, especially with Dame Maggie stealing everything that ain’t bolted down. (Another deserving nom that won’t happen.)

  32. palmtree says:

    LOL, Blackcloud.

  33. MC13 says:

    Adam Beach not even a contender on the Best Supporting Actor list?
    If FLAGS scores for Pic and Director, he would seem to be a lock.

  34. Argen says:

    “Not a surprising, interesting thing in it.”
    As opposed to WTC which has twists, turns, and a fascinating examination of being trapped in a dark place for hours (much like I felt in the theater, interestingly enough).
    U93 is a beautifully made film that brings humanity out of inhuman circumstances. Its achievements are strong, but subtle, though it’s not surprising some won’t pick up on them at all.
    I’m still holding out hope.

  35. Nicol D says:

    U93 is a easily the better film of the two, but WTC is a very good film. As one poster above said, it is a very inspirational film about how people can rise above their circumstances, pull together and survive. It works both as a literal story about 9/11 and as a metaphor for the human spirit and how God (yeah, God) can work through it.
    Again, U93 is the better film, but Stone’s work is also very commendable. Must every film be about how shitty human beings are to each other?

  36. jeffmcm says:

    I still disagree that WTC is ‘very good’, I consider it thoroughly mediocre. It’s a PG-13 movie about a horrific terrorist attack, meaning that we hardly see a single victim; it wimps out on making us share the characters’ ordeal by cutting away to their uninteresting family members and their perversely interesting rescuers for no apparent reason; and the appearance of Jesus in the movie is a thirst-driven hallucination, not exactly a true return to spirituality in my book.
    Nicol’s final sentence is the most interesting thing you’ve said, maybe ever.

  37. Argen says:

    Not every film has to be about how shitty people are to each other. I’m holding out big hopes for the proposed film based on the book 102 MINUTES which tells the story of the attacks and gives a beautiful portrait of the humanity, courage, and human spirit on display in themidst of all the carnage that day. I just found WTC overlong, treacley, and toothless. And changing Kearns to a white guy still just annoys me.
    But I love movies that show goodness in people. Some of my all time favoites are exactly those kinds of movie. But I like them to be a great deal more compelling than Stone’s attempt to stay employable.

  38. mutinyco says:

    Scorsese winning for The Departed is Paul Newman winning for The Color of Money.

  39. Aladdin Sane says:

    Or Al Pacino winning for Scent of a Woman…or Denzel winning for Training Day…
    Yay for make-up awards!

  40. mutinyco says:

    Well…I specifically used the Newman analogy (Scorsese reference notwithstanding) because he was really winning the Oscar for The Hustler. Though TCoM was a pale imitation. Here, Scorsese’d be winning basically for Goodfellas.

  41. jeffmcm says:

    The question is, is there a more worthy contender who Scorsese might beat for sentimental/lifetime achievement purposes? I haven’t seen any awards contenders yet where the direction was seriously better than Scorsese’s work, even if it was a Goodfellas imitator.

  42. The Carpetmuncher says:

    I totally agree that we’ve yet to see a director this year do better work than Scorsese did in THE DEPARTED, though I would put Innaritu up there even with him. To me they stand well above everything else I’ve seen.
    THE COLOR OF MONEY is a great film too – underrated only because THE HUSTLER is so great and so beloved. It’s terribly dismissive to just call it a “pale imitation.” COLOR is it’s own film, and works on a whole nother plane than the first film. Newman’s tranformation from one film to the next is breathtaking – the films work together as a whole to me.
    Go Marty!

  43. mutinyco says:

    I thought The Departed was the most anonymous filmmaking Scorsese’s ever done. Felt to me like he was just going through the motions. There isn’t a single thing about the movie that stayed with me afterward.
    Not a bad movie. Perfectly serviceable. But nothing extraordinary. This was Scorsese paying the bills on the remainder of his career so he can go do smaller films/docs without interference.

  44. palmtree says:

    I thought Departed was no more anonymous than Inside Man was. In a way, they are great companion films, veteran outcast directors doing great mainstream genre work but with their quirks eating away at the edges.

  45. I agree with Mutinyco on The Departed. Scorsese’s directing was good in the sense that it was well made and the end result was a good movie (but I didn’t think it was extraordinary like most, apparently) but I dunno. I would actually be disappointed to see Scorsese win for The Departed. But, as long as Eastwood doesn’t win again.
    But, can we really discuss Scorsese winning if his film isn’t even nominated for Best Picture?

  46. MattM says:

    If tonight’s NYC Times Square box office is any indication–The Prestige is going to beat Flags of Our Fathers (which was maybe 60-70% full while Presitge was selling out), and Marie Antoinette is going to do VERY well. If Flags doesn’t win the weekend, does that hurt its chances? And if so, how much?

  47. “And for those doubting Winslet, remember that box office is irrelevant in the Best Actress race. I’m sure Little Children will finish with more money than Tumbleweeds, Afterglow and Vera Drake.”
    Aah, but were those films seen as disappointments? Little Children looked like such a better picture and had great pedigree (well, if you liked In the Bedroom) so if it’s seen as a big disappointment (and the film isn’t exactly getting the rapture that In the Bedroom got) then that could easily harm Winslet.

  48. Oh, and MattM it’s silly to estimate a gross for Marie Antoinette based on a cinema in NYC.

  49. Whoa, Ebert gave Marie Antoinette 4 stars. I knew he liked it, but not that much. He did say that as the Cannes festival wore on he started liking it more and more.
    But, still. Interesting.

  50. Wrecktum says:

    Regarding Newman’s win for Color of Money: remember, he had just the year previously won an honorary lifetime achievement Oscar the year before his win for CoM. His honorary Oscar (awarded at a very young age…he was barely 60) was itself a “make up” Oscar not for the Hustler. Rather it was a reward for his recent career critical resurgence.
    The early ’80s were a renaissance for Newman. He was nominated for back to back Oscars for Absence of Malice and (perhaps his best role) The Verdict. He had also made Fort Apache, The Bronx and Harry and Son (which he also directed) during that period.
    I remember Newman’s honorary award very well. He was unable to attend the ceremony, but he was able to accept the award via sattelite. Where was he? In Chicago filming The Color of Money. No one expected him to win for Color of Money when he was accepting his honorary award in March of ’86.

  51. jeffmcm says:

    Marie Antoinette is not as wide as Flags or Prestige, and big-city audiences are going to flock to it so it should have a reasonably high per-screen in places like NYC.

  52. Blackcloud says:

    ^ Certainly true in DC.

  53. Well Friday numbers are in and you’re right. I was expecting the worst. Although I still don’t think for a movie like MA that NYC audiences should be seen as a guage.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon