Sunday, July 21, 2013

July Oscar Buzz and Predictions - The Big Two

     The big two, of course, being picture and director.  As always, the first list is about the buzz.  The second list is whatever crap came out of my head...

Best Director

  1. George Clooney - The Monuments Men
  2. Martin Scorsese - The Wolf of Wall Street
  3. Joel & Ethan Coen - Inside Llewyn Davis
  4. Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity
  5. David O Russell - American Hustle

  6. Ridley Scott - The Counselor
  7. Bennett Miller - Foxcatcher
  8. Paul Greengrass - Captain Phillips
  9. John Wells - August: Osage County
  10. Steve McQueen - 12 Years a Slave

     I can understand why all of these names made the list. If there's a long shot in the bunch, it is probably John Wells.  I'm expecting August: Osage County to be more of a showcase for the actors, maybe the script, but time will tell.  If I had to say what sets my list apart, I would note that I am predicting more of a breakthrough for the young buck auteurs in 2013.  I'm also more realistic about how easily the directors' branch of the AMPAS gets spacesick...

  1. Joel & Ethan Coen - Inside Llewyn Davis...I am not necessarily predicting the win here, just the most likely nominee. Out of the true veteran heavy hitters in this year's race (it seems odd to think of  the Indie Revolution harbingers as such, but it's been a long time since the early nineties), only the Coens have already debuted their film and received a consensus critical opinion that leans comfortably toward the positive.
  2. Martin Scorsese - The Wolf of Wall Street...Sure, I usually give a strong edge in the early part of the year to the films that have already debuted, but I can't help myself.  Marty and Leo are always a powerful combination.  It seems unlikely that both Scorcese AND Clooney get left out.  After seeing the first trailer for "Wolf", my money's on Marty.
  3. Ryan Coogler - Fruitvale Station...At this point, this little indie effort might just WIN the top two categories.  Coogler is sure to top a host of best first director lists this year, and winning would give him the distinction of being the first African-American director to do so.  See, I made it all the way to number three before I invoked Harvey Weinstein's name to justify a predicted nominee's inclusion...invoke.
  4. Steve McQueen - 12 Years a Slave...And while we're at it, we might as well also go on record saying that 2013 will be the first year to award two black directors with nominations (you can't call Steve McQueen an African-American no matter HOW PC you are, he's from England).  True, McQueen's previous efforts (particularly Shame) were a little too much for the Academy's delicate, often fragile, sensibilities.  This film could easily follow in Shame's footsteps and elude recognition no matter how brilliant it is.  Slavery, however, is a topic that Oscar can stomach a good hard look at much more readily than sex addiction (to say nothing of Michael Fassbender's penis).  Django proved this to be true.  I'm hoping that this picture can follow in those footsteps.
  5. JC Chandor - All is Lost...I went back and forth on my fifth and sixth place predictions, but I finally decided to place this epic of one man lost at sea in the number five slot for two reasons.  First, it has already debuted and blown expectations out of know.  Critical consensus is firmly on the film's side and star Robert Redford's Oscar comeback story is ready to write itself.  The second reason is that, as I stated, I think this will be a real breakout year for up and coming writer/directors.  Chandor's freshman effort, Margin Call, beat the odds to land him a screenplay nod.  Might this be the year that the other aspect of his amazing talent gets recognized?

  6. George Clooney - The Monuments Men...Of course its more than likely that Mr. Clooney will take one of my young lions down.  The Academy loves Mr. Clooney in a way that makes the women uncomfortable in their clothes and the men even more so.  After mostly ignoring his last effort, The Ides of March, it is almost unthinkable that they would let this film (which panders to their tastes in such a gratifyingly obvious way) go by without giving it multiple nods (with director/writer/star/producer George C up for at least a couple of them personally).  Still, it is not THAT far outside of the realm of probability that he gets Picture and Screenplay, but misses director and/or actor.
  7. Bennett Miller - Foxcatcher...Moneyball was the best movie that has ever been made about two topics as boring as math and baseball.  Imagine what Mr. Miller might do with an inherently interesting premise and an equally capable cast.
  8. Ridley Scott - The Counselor...I would have placed this film higher in the rankings if I had not been burned last year lobbying for Mr. Scott's underwhelmingly adequate Prometheus.  I'm sorry, but only time can heal these wounds...maybe just enough time for this thriller to open.
  9. David O Russell - American Hustle...Mr. Russell's recent track record with Oscar means you can't ignore his possible inclusion here, but every lucky streak breaks eventually, just ask Jason Reitman.
  10. Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity...I really wanted to put Elysium in this unlikely wild card slot, but Gravity does have far more buzz.

     But I considered...John Wells (August: Osage County), Richard Linklater (Before Midnight), Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine), Lee Daniels (The Butler), Paul Greengrass - Captain Phillips, Neil Blomkamp - Elysium, Bill Condon - The Fifth Estate, Spike Jonze - Her, James Grey - The Immigrant, Jason Reitman - Labor Day, Anton Corbjin - A Most Wanted Man, Alexander Payne - Nebraska, Spike Lee - Oldboy, Scott Cooper - Out of the Furnace, Asghar Farhadi - The Past, Stephen - Philomena, Ron Howard - Rush, John Lee Hancock - Saving Mr. Banks, Susanne Biers - Serena, Jean-Pierre Jeunet - The Young and Prodigious Spivet

Best Picture

  1. The Monuments Men
  2. Inside Llewyn Davis
  3. The Wolf of Wall Street
  4. August: Osage County
  5. Captain Phillips
  6. Fruitvale Station
  7. Nebraska
  8. Foxcatcher
  9. Before Midnight
  10. The Counselor

  11. Gravity
  12. Saving Mr. Banks
  13. American Hustle
  14. 12 Years a Slave
  15. Labor Day
  16. The Butler
  17. The Great Gatsby
  18. Out of the Furnace
  19. All is Lost
  20. Rush

     So far, the year has seen the debut of three films that I'm betting make the Best Picture race, and you can find them at slots one through three on my prediction list below.  Film festival crowds have also been treated to a couple of feasible maybes (six and fifteen on my list) and one dark horse wild card that's made enough of an impact to humor (number nineteen). The other fourteen films I am championing purely on speculation, some more speculative than others.

  1. Inside Llewyn Davis...Coens + Cannes acclaim + Oscar friendly release date > or = Best Picture nominee.
  2. Fruitvale Station...Sundance AND Cannes acclaim + The Weinstein Co. + critical embrace > or = Best Picture nominee.
  3. Before Midnight...Conclusion to a beloved trilogy never honored under old five nominee system + best film in the series + best reviewed narrative film in English of the year = Best Picture nominee.
  4. The Wolf of Wall Street....After all that simple math the remaining speculation seems a little scarier. Of course, Martin Scorsese reunited with frequent 21st century muse DiCaprio is usually a PRETTY sure bet, at least better than most, so I can face my fears on a big limb before I go out on some that are decidedly flimsier.
  5. 12 Years a Slave...With only two previous films under his belt, Steve McQueen is already proving himself a thoughtful director of consistently impressive quality.  His third film sounds far more baity and far less off-putting than Shame.  For now, my money is on McQueen getting bumped up to the next level when the year is said and done.
  6. All is Lost...As already noted, this film has screened to rave reviews and surpassed the expectations of almost everyone who has seen it. In it Robert Redford give a performance that has placed him at the head of this year's Best Actor race securely enough to generate other nominations.
  7. The Monuments Men...I held out as long as I could before getting to the film that seems genetically engineered for the Academy Awards due to a sneaking suspicion that the "bait" factor here could prove to be overkill.
  8. Foxcatcher...There is now some doubt whether this film will actually be released or get held over to 2014.  IF it comes out this year, I'm expecting greatness...largely a hunch.
  9. The Counselor...Ridley Scott failed to deliver last year, and it has made me gun shy regardless of how potentially great the premise of this film sounds.  Of course, the same knee jerk reaction kept me from being too enthusiastic about Lincoln last year, and we know how that turned out.
  10. Blue Jasmine...Yeah, I know, Woody JUST had a big comeback two years ago, but early word on this one is encouraging and Cate Blanchett looks positively brilliant in the trailer.

  11. Gravity...Yeah, I expect it to be great too, but any film set in space has one mark against it from the get go.
  12. American Hustle...While director David O Russell's film's have had a flawless track record in recent years, that is a double edged sword.  While the AMPAS is sure to take the film seriously, they may also feel that the director has already gotten his due of late.  He's almost got to top Silver Linings Playbook to even get in the game.
  13. August: Osage County...I find the cast of this piece as rife with tasty possibilities as the next guy, but I'm still not sold that it will break out of the acting categories.
  14. Captain Phillips...Action flicks are another genre with something of an uphill battle to wage when it comes to getting awards recognition.  Still, director Greengrass has done it before.
  15. Nebraska...For an Alexander Payne film, Nebraska's response at Cannes was...tepid.  It could still happen, but Payne's track record is about due for a blip, and so far it leaves many cold.
  16. Labor Day...Jason Reitman fell out of the Academy's favor a bit with his last effort, Young Adult. His possible comeback? The dramedy king goes all drama.  It could be the revitalizing change of direction that he needs, or it could be just another action thriller.
  17. Elysium...Even though no one else seems to be taking this film's above the line prospects very seriously at this point, I am STILL so stoked about the way that District 9 transcended the science fiction genre that I will not count director Neil Blomkamp out.
  18, Philomena...Weinstein seemed awfully eager to pick up this up. His sights COULD be set for a campaign beyond Best Actress.
  19. Stories We Tell...Every year or two, some rather unique documentary comes along that people theorize could finally be the first to land a best picture nomination.  If anything did this year, it would be this one from director Sarah Polley, which has received nearly universal praise.
  20. The Young and Prodigious Spivet...Again, Weinstein jumped at distribution and its not like director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has never been courted by Oscar before (Amelie).

     And that does it for this round of Oscar predix.  We'll probably get around to more around September.

  Related articles: What "Cannes" We Tell So Far?, June Oscar Buzz and Predictions - The Aural TechsThe Visual TechsThe Genre CategoriesThe ScreenplaysSupporting PlayersActor and Actress; Innkeepers of Blood and Shame (Shame review), Arantino Explained (The T is Invisible) (Django Unchained review), Promarlius Kingdom (Prometheus review), Dark Clouds Beautify "Silver Linings"Another Young Project (Young Adult review)

No comments:

Post a Comment