Thursday, March 28, 2013

What to make of these films...

So next month I’ll be embarking on my first attempt at predicting to Oscars this year, but before I get into that I decided to call out ten films that I’m having the most trouble collecting complete Oscar thoughts on.  I think all of these films will be in the conversation somewhere, and in many ways they could even be my ten most anticipated films of the year, considering that my collective assessment of their potential is so up in the air.  I expect to enjoy all of them and I want so badly to assume that Oscar will too, but for each film I wonder if there aren’t too many stumbling blocks in their way.  I’ll be talking about a few of these films as we get into my early bird predictions next month, but for now here are a few thoughts (and concerns) on each.

The Bling Ring:
I want to have nothing but faith in this project and yet there is something in the back of my mind that tells me that all my blind faith is going to come back to bite me in the ass when it turns out to be one of the best films of the year SNUBBED in all categories by Oscar.  Still, this is Sophia Coppola, and this is one project of hers that I see being a commercial as well as critical success.  With such a topical subject and a star who is peaking at the right time, this could be one of the films to watch out for this year.  I could just as easily see this being snubbed everywhere as I could see it being a multiple contender, with nominations in a few key categories (like Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress, Film Editing and Cinematography).  If this becomes a box office hit, expect it to get showered come Oscar time.

Blue Jasmine:
I love me some Woody Allen, but his track record as of late is very hit and miss.  When he hits (as he did with Vicky Cristina Barcelona) Oscar tends to ignore him and when he offers up simplistic mediocrity (like he did with Midnight in Paris) Oscar laps it up.  I’m not sure what to make of his entry this year, but I know that the cast sounds incredible so he really shouldn’t be discounted.  Blanchett is set to be a force this year, and possibly for this very film (although Allen has more pull with his supporting characters).  I’m still on the fence here, but I have a feeling that I’m underestimating it.  And yet again, I could easily see this being ignored everywhere.

The Grand Budapest Hotel:
I wasn’t expecting to see this until 2014, but it looks like it may actually get an end of year release, which has me all sorts of excited!  Considering that Moonrise Kingdom is one of my favorite films of last year (ATM resting at #3) has me so excited to see where Wes goes next.  That being said, AMPAS has never really responded to Anderson’s films in the way that they should have.  Even with all the critical attention and accolades that Moonrise Kingdom picked up, it still wound up with a mere Screenplay nomination that it LOST.  Still, this cast is amazing, so maybe Wes will finally get a cast member nominated.  I’ll have my eyes open for this one, not because I’m sure it’ll be amazing but because I’m wondering if spilled over goodwill will pave a way for Oscar to take special interest in this intriguing film.

I fully expect this film to dominate in the technical categories (if Life of Pi can get in with Cinematography and Art Direction then so can this film) but I also wonder if this won’t be a major force elsewhere.  Bullock is said to be in every frame, and leads so defined tend to get extra attention and praise.  Also, this is purely a director’s film, so I could easily see Cuaron getting some nice mentions and becoming a serious contender for the gold.  Early word was good on this, and although it was pushed back from opening last year, I don’t think it was for quality of film but more extra time to fine tune something that was already rather exceptional.  It could go either way, but my thoughts for now are that this looks pretty good to get in everywhere.

The Great Gatsby:
Early word is that this is a disaster and yet I can’t help but hope for the best here since I love so many things about this project.  This is like a collective wet dream for me (one of my favorite books/actresses/directors coming together for my viewing pleasure) and yet there is so much that could go wrong here that I’m really confident this is going to get shafted in every area that doesn’t look pretty.  So, expect Art Direction, Makeup, Cinematography and Costume Design to be key grabs for this film.  I’m still holding out hope for Edgerton though, since his star is rising and Tom Buchanan may be the greatest villain ever penned.

James Gray has a lot of cult believers in his craft.  Apparently, they see things I don’t since I’m not really all that enamored with anything he’s done so far.  That being said, a lot of this particular film interests me (not the least of which being Marion Cotillard’s involvement.  Weinstein is also in Gray’s corner, and he has called this a masterpiece, so I’m thinking that in the very least it’ll shoot for a Best Actress nomination, which would be so nice for Cotillard who keeps delivering stellar work that goes ignored by AMPAS.  Still, I get the feeling that this could be a serious contender in MANY categories and yet it just doesn’t seem like that type of film (yes, it has bait written all over it and yet I can’t picture it being universally lauded).  Maybe I’m just not confident in Gray, but if this is his year then this could be a serious player.

Only God Forgives:
Was Drive a fluke?  I mean, the whole Oscary campaign run was so unexpected and yet completely wasted (a mere sound nomination…?  That’s it!?!?!) and yet the unexpected critical appreciation of Drive may be what has people talking about this particular film.  With Gosling and Winding Refn together again, could they strike gold and actually legitimize the acclaim with Oscar attention?  My gut says “hell yes” and yet my mind says “hell no” and since my gut usually is tainted by what I presume to be giant Fisti successes, I’m leaning towards expecting this to garner exactly ZERO Oscar nominations…and yet Kristen Scott Thomas plays a gangster so…

Twelve Years a Slave:
Steve McQueen is such a fresh new voice in modern cinema that I want everything he does to succeed.  He has such vision, and yet AMPAS has shunned his previous two films even in the acting categories (and after Fassbender and Mulligan garnered such critical praise).  That leaves me scratching my head as to what to make of his latest entry, which is more AMPAS friendly in subject (SLAVERY!) and yet could still be considered too artsy, cold and brutal (from what I’ve heard, McQueen isn’t shy here).  Still, we aren’t dealing with sex addiction and so I’m wondering if this could garner some real support in some key categories like Screenplay, Lead Actor, Supporting Actor, Costumes, Art Direction and even Cinematography (his films are always so visually impactful).  I wonder, but I lean towards thinking this is going to be about as well received with AMPAS as his last two entries.

Winter’s Tale:
Has anyone read the synopsis for this movie?  It sounds completely un-AMPAS and yet I’m dying for this to be a big player if not for the simple fact that I obsess over all things Russell Crowe, and he’s in this!  The film could be extremely effects heavy, and Colin Farrell deserves to be recognized as a serious talent and so maybe this could factor in with some visual categories and even acting if it gets special praise in those areas.  The biggest snag for me here is the fact that Akiva Goldsman is directing this.  He hasn’t directed anything other than television, and he’s best known for penning ridiculous action films (aside from his Oscar winning work for Ron Howard) and so I’m wondering if he’ll even take this seriously.  This is his first feature film, and the cast is incredible.  I’ll weigh in more once I read the novel (which is on my shelf as we speak) but I’m questioning whether or not this is a mere pipedream of mine.

Wolf of Wall Street:
When you hear the words ‘Scorsese’, ‘DiCaprio’ and ‘Corporate Corruption’ you automatically think Oscar, and yet there is something about this project that has me extremely skeptical of its Oscar potential.  Early word on the script is that it is VERY sexually explicit, containing scenes of straight and gay sex as well as orgies and loads of drug use and vulgar language.  Oscar doesn’t have a track record of indulging in that kind of fare.  I mean, remember what happened to Michael Fassbender back in 2011?  Still, Scorsese’s name alone usually means ‘Oscar’ and so this is a film that should remain on our radar, if not for Best Picture then at least in categories like Screenplay, Lead Actor, Costumes and Art Direction.


  1. We're virtually in sync on these movies. I'm anticipating all of them, but I only see Gravity, Lowlife (maybe), and Twelve Years a Slave as being potential major players. Wolf could get DiCaprio a nod, and I think The Great Gatsby and Winter's Tale could get some technical nominations. (Obviously, I'd LOVE a Supporting Actor nod for Crowe.) The rest I think will be no-shows, unless The Grand Budapest Hotel registers.

    1. Next month is going to be interesting :-)