Monday, April 15, 2013

Oscar Predictions: April Edition (Part 1)


So Josh (over at The Cinematic Spectacle) and I have decided to join forces this year for our initial Oscar predictions (and who knows, maybe for some updates as well) and present to you a dual post.  Its way early in the year, but films keep being discussed and the show must go on, so why not take a dive into the Oscar race for 2013!  We’re splitting the categories up this week, so be sure to check in each day for some ink on more categories.  You can jump over to Josh’s page to see more on his personal thoughts on each category, but I’ll also be paraphrasing his thoughts and posting his personal predictions below. 

For today, we’re going to jump into some big categories; Best Picture, Director, Adapted and Original Screenplay.  It kind of seems appropriate to start there, since really those categories are going to form the foundation for the rest of our predictions.  It goes without saying that the films with Best Picture nominations are going to fare better in other categories. 

So let’s dive right in.  I’m going to put this out there up front; I ramble a lot, but this is the first predictions of the year and there are so many questionmarks that not speculating everything seems bizarre to me.  In fact, there are still a slew of films I failed to give enough consideration to, and I’m sure that come November we’ll all be singing a different tune.  I eventually just had to stop myself from overthinking the whole thing and just STOP CHANGING MY PREDICTIONS.  Truth be told, I already want to change what you’re about to read.

Alas, I’m not going to (until next month, right?).


Best Picture:

Frontrunner?
It looks like nine is the magic number.  Two years in a row and it’ll probably stay that way for a while.  I’m fine with that.  The nine nominees we got this year actually seemed to be a really decent set (a few still unseen) and the critical and commercial praise for them at least trumps the mockery that was 2011.  In looking over the possibilities for 2013, it looks like we could be in for some really great films and some really serious fare.  That being said, nothing is ever as it seems this early out and predictions are really wild guesses that will, at best, prove to be half right.  I mean, who ever saw The Artist coming this early in the year or really expected The Help to be an Oscar player outside of its actors and while a lot of 2012 seemed predictable (Les Miserables, Argo, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty…even Silver Linings Playbook) we still got some surprise love for films like Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour.  This just proves that nothing should be overlooked.

But this early on in the game, a lot of things will be overlooked.  I’ll tell you, my predictions have shifted a ton since I first penned them back in March.  I’m glad I didn’t post them back then, because my opinion has changed so much (and new stills and light on certain projects has me hopeful in newfound places).

Last month there were two films I was VERY sure of.  One of them was Rush, Ron Howards look at F-1 and the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt.  It looks really good and promising and I have a feeling that it’ll land in quite a few spots, especially with the techs.  Ridley Scott’s The Counselor also looks to be a riveting film.  Written by Cormac McCarthy, who is a remarkable storyteller, and starring a slew of respectable actors (Fassbender, Bardem, Cruz, Diaz, Pitt), this should be a really tight thriller and could even land Scott as the frontrunner for the Oscar.

I’m still sold on those two films.

Oscar #2?
One film that has been creeping up on everyone is David O. Russell’s new ABSCAM movie.  Formerly titled American Bullshit, the film is being passed over as a fictional tale inspired by the true events surrounding the Abscam scandal and the cast is an insane who’s-who of Academy Award winners (Bale/Lawrence) and nominees (Adams/Renner/Cooper).  Cool thing is that both Bale and Lawrence won with O. Russell films and Adams and Cooper have been nominated from working with him as well.  The set pics look rather impressive and I think this could be HUGE, and with O. Russell’s newfound Oscar darling status and the fact that he was probably a few votes away from winning the Oscar this year, this could wind up being the film to beat.

After that, I’m thinking that Fruitvale, which just made a giant splash as Sundance, is going to make some dents, and I think that Inside Llewyn Davis looks like a welcomed return to form for the Coen brothers.  Besides, AMPAS loves them now.  The one thing that scares me about the Coen brother’s film is that the studio behind it doesn’t evoke confidence in an Oscar push.  Still, it looks delicious, and early ink is favorable.  It could snag an acting nomination or two in the very least; or maybe an Original Song credit.

Reitman has had a good string of success, and Labor Day looks like it is right up AMPAS alley (although it does sound a tad soap opera, which is odd for a Reitman film), not to mention a killer leading lady.  Speaking of leading ladies, Gravity was originally scheduled for this past year and was moved, but early word was strong for it so I’m wondering if it could get a Malick type mention (could it be this year’s Tree of Life?).

Then there is a whole bunch of shit up in the air.

Is your film a threat, Mr. Hanks?
Could Saving Mr. Banks be a biopic juggernaut or will it be another Hyde Park on Hudson?  The early ink (what little there is) seems to suggest this is too light for Oscar, outside of maybe an acting award or two.  Is Woody Allen due for another Oscar miss?  Will Bennett Miller prove to be an Oscar force with his third film Foxcatcher?  It has a baity subject, but could it be seen as more of an actor’s piece?  Oscar loved District 9, but was that a fluke or will they drool all over Elysium?  James Gray is said to be sitting on a masterpiece with Lowlife, but will it really connect?  Will Pixar prove that they are the only ones capable of getting a Best Picture mention for their animated films?  Monsters University is a highly anticipated film.  Could The Butler be another home run for Daniels, or is The Paperboy a sign of things to come?  What about Clooney’s The Monuments Men?  It sounds interesting, and Clooney understands comedy (I’m hoping that’s what they’re going for) and the cast is amazing, but could it be more of an ensemble piece? 

For me, a lot has been hyped about August: Osage County but for me it seems like one of those prestige pieces that is bound for disappointment.  That being said, early ink is good and those reactions are divided enough to be substantially telling.  Those who love it really LOVE IT!  Besides, it’s Meryl Streep and she is said to devour this film, so I’m thinking she could carry it to a Best Picture nomination in an expanded field.  Besides, actor’s pieces can do well here if they are truly embraced by the acting community as a whole.  I have a feeling SAG will eat this up.

"I was just trying to get to the Oscars!!!"
A big questionmark for me is Wolf of Wall Street.  So many are putting faith in this film because it is Scorsese and DiCaprio and they think that means OSCAR, but judging from the synopsis, I just don’t see this as an AMPAS friendly film.  It is steeped in drugs and gratuitous sex, both straight and gay, including orgies and explicit scenes.  Baity, sure, but remember what happened with Shame?

My wild card pick of April
And then there are a slew of films that I have no idea how they’ll be received but that have me really excited.  I’m throwing all my wild card support behind The Bling Ring, which could be a really fun yet satirical and profound look at celebrity, and we all know that Coppola is capable of GREATNESS.  Ain’t Them Bodies Saints got a LOT of praise for the entirety of the film (acting and techs included), but I wonder if it’ll be forgotten due to the indie nature of the film.  Unless it becomes a complete force, it could get the shaft.  It doesn’t help that Fruitvale took a lot of its thunder at Sundance.  I really want Twelve Years a Slave to be McQueen’s big breakout, but if that means that he has to change his directing style then I hope Oscar never embraces him.  And yes, I know that Winding Refn was never going to be an Oscar nominee for Drive, but maybe Only God Forgives will make good on the inevitable critics adoration. 

And there is still Nebraska, A Most Wanted Man, Serena, and The Railway Man in the mix. 
Please be amazing...

And then we have Winter’s Tale, which is probably my most anticipated of the year, but I’m not blind to the fact that it is not really the type of film Oscar goes for.

UGH!

So, with all that said (too much, I’m sure but I didn’t want to leave anything off), I come down to trying to make up a Best Picture lineup that looks legitimate.  I’m going with ten because it’s fucking April and I need all the help I can get.  I know that we’ll be getting some surprises, and I’m pretty sure that there is going to be at least one nominee at years end that is not mentioned above, but maybe I’ll get lucky and get at least five of these right.

My Picks: 

ABSCAM
August: Osage County
The Bling Ring
The Counselor
Foxcatcher
Fruitvale
Gravity
The Monuments Men
Nebraska
Rush

Josh's Picks:

ABSCAM
August: Osage County
The Counselor
Foxcatcher
Fruitvale
Gravity
Lowlife
The Monuments Men
Saving Mr. Banks
Twelve Years a Slave

Josh and I see eye-to-eye on seven of these films (ABSCAM, August: Osage County, The Counselor, Foxcatcher, Fruitvale, Gravity and The Monuments Men) but he has less faith than I do in The Bling Ring, Nebraska and Rush.  Instead he’s putting more faith in Lowlife, Saving Mr. Banks and Twelve Years a Slave.  He considers The Counselor, Gravity, The Monuments Men and ABSCAM to be the frontrunners, with the possibility of Twelve Years a Slave being a big contender.  I want so badly for him to be right about Twelve Years a Slave!

Director:
All I know is that the five directors nominated here are going to have their films nominated for Best Picture.  I’m giving up on the whole ‘lone director’ idea, even though I think that it could one day happen.  So, with that said I have to choose five names from the ten I have predicted for Best Picture.  That would give me these ten names to draw from:

Clooney
Coogler
Coppola
Cuaron
Howard
Miller
Payne
O. Russell
Scott
Wells

But, that doesn’t exclude the fact that there will be a lot more films in contention for the Oscar and many more names discussed.  I’ll keep my focus on these ten, but Bier, Coen, Daniels, Gray, Hancock, Malick, McQueen and Reitman shouldn’t be left off entirely. 

In breaking this down a bit, you have the two films I think will be the biggest Oscar hitters, Rush and The Counselor.  So that means that Howard and Scott are in.  I actually think that Scott will win this year, and who am I to not make bold predictions this early (I also claimed he would win for ‘Prometheus’ for about two weeks). 

We can move on.

Then you have to separate the films that look like tail end nominations.  The Bling Ring looks to be fun and I love me some Sophia Coppola, but I also think that it will be one of those passion films that gets in without a single shot at winning anything.  It could come through on the strength of a star turn (Watson is on the rise) and some sharp writing, which is what Coppola is all about, but she is also a woman and they have a hard time getting nominated just once.  As we saw with Bigelow this past year, AMPAS hates directors with vaginas.  So, she’s out. 

Then you have the films that could be seen as directorial works, and none fits that bill quite like Gravity.  I think that Cuaron could be this year’s Malick, nominated for a film that his seen as largely successful on his shoulders.  Miller is one of those directors that works his material really well, but I’m wondering if he’ll be seen as more of an actor’s director (even though his films really reflect his vision more than anything else). 

Cuaron also would corner the newbie market.  Of the ten potentials I’m discussing, you have Cuaron, Coogler and Wells.  Coogler has received a lot of good ink based on the Sundance reception to Fruitvale and so I think he’s in.  He also has Weinstein, so that’s a major plus.  Wells also has Weinstein in his corner, and Streep and a presumably bigger film on his shoulders, but I get this feeling that Coogler could be seen a huge breakout star and that means passion votes and #1 placement (look at Zeitlin).

Clooney, Payne and O. Russell would be admirable returning choices considering that they are obviously loved by Oscar, but I’m thinking their films could be rewarded elsewhere (writing and acting most likely) instead.  Still, O. Russell is having his MOMENT right now, and this film looks like it could be a big deal for him.

My Picks:


Ryan Coogler/Fruitvale
Alfonso Cuaron/Gravity
Ron Howard/Rush
David O. Russell/ABSCAM
Ridley Scott/The Counselor

Josh's Picks:
George Clooney/The Monuments Men
Alfonso Cuaron/Gravity
Steve McQueen/Twelve Years a Slave
David O. Russell/ABSCAM
Ridley Scott/The Counselor 

Josh and I agree on Cuaron, O. Russell and Scott.  Where we differ is with Coogler and Howard.  Instead, Josh is predicting Clooney and McQueen (I find it funny that we both agree it’ll be a returning Oscar winner and a newbie).  I really considered predicting Clooney, but maybe it was my personal bias against his current godlike status that had me rooting against him (despite wanting to see his film).  McQueen would be an amazing nomination, but I fear AMPAS won’t embrace his style.  Josh feels that Cuaron and O. Russell are out in front in this race and feels that Coogler, Gray and Miller are just outside the top five.

Adapted Screenplay:

The thing with Adapted Screenplay is that it tends to correlate with Best Picture quite often.  This is where most of your prestige pieces come from.  Occasionally you’ll get other films that filter in, but more often than not this is all about the big guns.  That being said, eight of the ten films I’m predicting for Best Picture are originals this year, so that leaves me with three spots wide open here.  The two that I think will correlate with Best Picture are, obviously, August: Osage County and The Monuments Men.

There don’t seem to be a bounty of adapted offerings this year, to be honest. 

I’m cycling a few ideas like The Fifth Estate (Social Network redux?), Labor Day (too soap operatic?), Monsters University (poor man’s Toy Story 3?), Serena (prestige fail?), A Most Wanted Man (too artsy?), The Butler (too stuffy?), Wolf of Wall Street (too trashy?), Inside Llewyn Davis (too indie?) and Before Midnight (too much of the same?) are the ones on the top of that list. 

And what of Twelve Years a Slave?  I want to have so much faith in this and yet I’m pretty sure that it’s not happening.

I’m also being told that Foxcatcher is an adapted work.  IMDB doesn’t make note of this on the film description page, but after doing some digging I found this:

“1997 Wrote "The Mark Schultz Story". Mark's autobiography and interviews are the basis for "Foxcatcher" a screenplay written by Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye and directed by academy award nominated director Bennett Miller.”

My Picks:

August: Osage County
The Fifth Estate
Foxcatcher
The Monuments Men
Wolf of Wall Street

Josh's Picks:
August: Osage County
Before Midnight
Foxcatcher 
The Monuments Men 
Twelve Years a Slave

Josh and I agree on August: Osage County, Foxcatcher and The Monuments Men, but he has Before Midnight and Twelve Years a Slave in his top five.  We seem to be pulling from the same pool of potentials.  Looking at that pool, none of them really evoke a lot of confidence.

Original Screenplay:

As a rule, Original Screenplay tends to adore the talky, witty, charming films.  If you are unusual and out there and are rich with developmental dialog then you got a great shot here.  That, and having a Best Picture nomination doesn’t hurt.

So let’s look at the seven films I’m predicting for Best Picture that have original screenplays.

Abscam Project
The Bling Ring
The Counselor
Fruitvale
Gravity
Nebraska
Rush

I’m tossing out Gravity right now because that seems like such a technical film.  I’m also banking on The Counselor going all the way so that one is definitely in.  Besides, wouldn’t it be amazing to see Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy winning Oscars on the same night?  Hell yes!  Then we have writers known for their screenplays.  Coppola has an Oscar for her screenplay for Lost in Translation.  Then you have the indie Fruitvale, which will probably need to rack up nominations in important categories to get anywhere near Best Picture.

I’m counting out Rush, which I think will rest on Howard and some slick technical tricks and I’m calling the Abscam Project a lock here, because it will have the stigma (a good one) of being deemed important. 

But what of Nebraska?  If it were written by Payne I’d say it was a lock, but it’s not.  Still, this seems like such a dialog heavy film so I’m thinking it has to be on there; right?

My Picks:

ABSCAM
The Bling Ring
The Counselor
Fruitvale
Nebraska

That is what I’m predicting for this year, but that doesn’t mean that something else could pop up.  Films like Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Don Jon’s Addiction, Frances Ha, Her and Lowlife could all play into the bigger picture.

Josh's Picks:
ABSCAM
The Counselor
Fruitvale
Lowlife
Nebraska 

Josh and I agree on all but one here.  I am putting my wild card faith in The Bling Ring, while he has Lowlife listed as nominee here.  He personally doesn’t think The Bling Ring has a chance here.  I guess The Bling Ring for me is Twelve Years a Slave for Josh!  He also mentions Can a Song Save Your Life as a potential nominee, and I have to say that that is one I hadn’t thought of.  See, there are so many films coming out this year that it is easy to forget about one entirely!

6 comments:

  1. Awesome job! Can't wait to do part 2! :)

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    1. Thanks bro! 2 is up! Can't wait till tomorrow :-P

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  2. It's hard for me to get into award stuff so early, but there are sooo many movies here I'm looking forward to, w/ ABSCAM, The Counselor and The Monuments Men being at the top of the list!

    Ahah, poor Leo. Seems like every pic of him being mad/deranged is associated w/ him wanting that elusive Oscar :D

    – ruth

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    1. I'm really intrigued by the promise that all three of those films hold. I can't wait to see if they make good on them.

      Poor Leo indeed.

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  3. I'm quite intrigued by your confidence in Rush. Didn't feel like a major Oscar player to me, but who knows. Interesting picks.

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    1. I've had it on my radar since seeing a small clip of it months ago with Howard discussing the technical aspects of shooting the film. I just feel like Howard is beloved by the Academy and this, while not your typical biopic, is still a biopic that discusses a topic not often broached in cinema. It looks like it will be a technical powerhouse, and good reviews could push it in the right direction. Only time will tell.

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