'War Horse' gets snubbed again
Well, yesterday's WGA predictions weren't far off at all. Sub in "Young Adult" for "Contagion" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" for "The Ides of March" and there you have it.
We've been very clear that ineligibilities were always going to limit the scope of these nominations. So don't expect this to be the Oscar line-up. The Academy could spring for a foreign entry, like "A Separation," or an animated one, like "Rango." Neither was eligible here. Meanwhile, others that weren't eligible here but that could get a decent amount of votes from the Academy's writers branch include "Martha Marcy May Marlene," "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," "Drive," "Margin Call" and "Beginners."
And, just like "The King's Speech" last year, expect "The Artist" (which wasn't eligible here) to slide right on in to the Best Original Screenplay field. It's not hurt at all by missing here. "War Horse," on the other hand (which I expected to miss with WGA on nothing more than a hunch) could be in an iffy spot. Check out the full list of narrative and documentary nominees below.
Also: Farewell to Hoberman, and Hollywood's fear of gay sex
I'm always interested to see who lands on the cover of Entertainment Weekly's Oscar-themed issue. While their picks are hardly influential, they can be a good indication of where popular opinion lies -- something that becomes less clear when you cover this beat too thoroughly. Last year, they anticipated one winner by placing Natalie Portman and James Franco front and center; this year, they seem to feel they have two, declaring Viola Davis and George Clooney "frontrunners." (I say they've still got one out of two there.) It's a nice pairing, not only because the two actors are firm friends, but because Davis is the kind of minority character actress who deserves more magazines covers of her own; as she pointedly reminds EW, she stands to become only the second black actress to score a second Oscar nomination. [Entertainment Weekly]
Most Oscar favorites face a 'backlash' at some point, but is it all in our heads?
With the critics' awards largely played out and the industry awards beginning to idly rev their engines, we're at that point in the season -- a point prematurely frazzled Oscar pundits might call the halfway mark, surprising sane laymen who think the race hasn't even started yet -- when certain terms start flying around the blogosphere with all-too-casual abandon. "Overrated" (translation: "I don't personally think it deserves as many awards as it's getting") is one. "Underrated" (translation: "Forget critical reception, it's not winning enough awards for my liking") is another. And somewhere in between lies the Oscar-watcher's favorite alarm word for loosening semi-cemented races, if only in their own imaginations: yes, the trusty old "backlash."
A "backlash," you understand, can describe anything from perceptible public resistance to a once-favored film or artist (the post-"sugar tits" Mel Gibson, say) to a strategized protest from a concentrated political or cultural faction with a sizable audience (the conservative anti-"Brokeback Mountain" bloc, say) to bored journalists and bloggers talking about how too many people are talking about a certain popular phenomenon -- and it's this last, most tenuous and tail-eating, form that "backlashes" in the realm of awards analysis usually take.
'Apes,' 'Hugo,' 'Tree of Life' still in contention; 'Super 8,' 'Thor' ditched
The Oscar race for Best Visual Effects currently seems to have more rounds of elimination than "American Idol": rarely has a nomination seemed more like the reward. Last month, a longlist of 15 titles was announced; today, that was cut down to 10, from which the eventual five nominees will be selected.
It's neat enough mathematically, I suppose, and seems less harsh than the previous bake-off system, which saw only seven films shortlisted, meaning a mere two got rather prominently ditched. At least this way, the losers have more company with which to commiserate.
Today's cull brings few surprises: all the long-predicted contenders are still in the running, from "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" to "Hugo" to "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" to "The Tree of Life" -- the latter still something of a lone arthouse wolf in a sea of multiplex fare.
Will a career honor affect his chances of a BAFTA for 'Hugo?'
Rather like Meryl Streep, who has been racking up career honors of late, it's all but impossible to argue with any kind of lifetime achievement award for Martin Scorsese: in addition to his own deathless body of work, his efforts in the fields of film preservation and documentation make him one of the medium's greatest servants. So the news that he is to receive BAFTA's highest honor, the Fellowship, at the British Academy's awards ceremony next month is neither unexpected nor unwelcome.
I can't help wondering, however, why they've chosen to honor him in this way in a year when he will most likely be in the regular BAFTA race for "Hugo." On the one hand, BAFTA voters may feel that the Fellowship is a sufficient reward for one year, and feel disinclined to vote for him in competitive categories. If they don't, and Scorsese were to win Best Director and/or Best Film into the bargain, it could come across as overkill -- particularly given that the Fellowship is traditionally the last presentation of the BAFTA ceremony. Why not wait, and spread the love by picking a worthy luminary who isn't already getting honored in other departments this year? Just my take.
Which scripts benefit in the wake of ineligibilities?
Tomorrow the Writers Guild of America (WGA) announces its narrative feature and documentary nominees. Something to remember is that a number of this year's Oscar-contending screenplays are ineligible for the award due to membership or signatory issues, meaning this is just an opportunity for other films that wouldn't normally have much room to get into the awards conversation.
The list of ineligibilities seems longer than normal this year. Or maybe it just seemed like there were more Oscar possibilities on that list than normal. In any case, you can count films like "The Artist," "Drive," "Martha Marcy May Marlene," "Shame," "My Week with Marilyn," "Rango," "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and more out.
So what does that leave? Well, there are some options. But the ultimate list of nominees here won't do a whole lot to clear up the Oscar race, both as a result of the above and the fact that the Academy's writers branch can often stray from the expected path a bit.
Also: The darkening of Keira Knightley and Kingsley's under-acting
I may have said this a few times before, but Clothes On Film is one of the smartest film blogs out there. Viewing and analyzing cinema from a sartorial perspective, Chris Laverty understands that there's more to great costume design than lavish corsets and hoop skirts, and his round-up of 2011's collected cinematic wardrobe is a case in point. Alongside appreciations of awards-bound threads from "Hugo" and "The Artist," Laverty is no less intrigued by the non-period work in such films as "Source Code" and "Drive": not only Ryan Gosling's already-iconic satin jacket, but his simple, dirty Henley tee, "reinvent[ing] the uniform of the protector." The Academy's costumers' branch could do worse than take a look at this piece for ideas. [Clothes on Film]
'The Adventures of Tintin' surprisingly in the mix, while 'War Horse' gets snubbed
The Art Directors Guild and the Costume Designers Guild separately make for two fun announcements during the awards season, because by dividing their nominations into three categories (period, fantasy and contemporary), they make room for films that might not otherwise share in the kudos spotlight.
The former announced its slate of nominees this evening, and the surprises were few and far between. I half expected "Hugo" to be chalked up as a fantasy film (it wasn't) in order to make way for some of the many other period films, among them "J. Edgar," "Midnight in Paris" (which also could have gone fantasy) and "War Horse."
Yes, Steven Spielberg's war epic was snubbed by the group, but oddly, his other effort, "The Adventures of Tintin," was chalked up in the fantasy film category. Elsewhere, I was pleased to see "Anonymous" get its due here, a stellar below-the-line showcase.
AMPAS gets a second chance to see Albert Brooks as a straight-up gangsta
FilmDistrict has announced plans to re-release “Drive” at the Arclight Hollywood for an exclusive one-week engagement, beginning this Friday, January 6th. Albert Brooks will be in attendance for a Q&A on opening night. Though “Drive” has received a significant number of nominations and wins throughout the precursor season (including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Director BFCA nominations), Brooks’s Golden Globes nod solidifies him as the film’s strongest Oscar contender (despite a SAG snub).
It is not out of the realm of possibility, however, for Christopher Plummer to steal Best Supporting Actor for his work in “Beginners” (which would be a first-time win for a long and distinguished career). This is not to detract from the other deserving players on the field, it is simply to note that the Academy does take the overall picture into account when it comes time to cast their ballots.
From 'Rango' to 'Jane Eyre,' screenplays from early 2011 that deserve a shout
Last week, I began this year's round of First-Half FYC columns, wherein we aim to respectfully draw attention to worthy Oscar alternatives from the first six months of the U.S. release calendar -- a response to the annual domination of the awards by year-end prestige fare. With our supporting performance picks out of the way, we turn this week to the screenplay categories.
The writing branch of the Academy routinely select the most adventurous and considered nominees of the bunch, but they can be as vulnerable as any other to the attractions of newer, more loudly-hyped contenders, so I've combed through the list of January-to-June titles to find a few titles that have unjustly slipped from the conversation -- if, indeed, they were ever in it. Interestingly, for an industry so commercially dominated by existing properties, it was the Original Screenplay category which came far more quickly into focus: at least two of my picks are seriously in the Oscar hunt already (while one slam-dunk nominee, "Midnight in Paris," didn't make my own five).