Movie Rantings and Ravings

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

For the Record..

I got 7/8 in the Big 8. I really thought Peter O'Toole would win. He didn't.

I got 10/16 in the other categories. 9/13 if you discount the shorts. For a total of 17/24. I guess that's not too much better or worse than anyone else, really.

The Good:

The Departed!
Martin Scorsese!
The Lives of Others beating the horribly overrated Pan's Labyrinth in Best Foreign Film.

The Bad:

Jennifer Hudson's abysmal acting win and Dreamgirls' abominable sound mixing win.
Peter O'Toole lost.

The Ugly:

Children of Men Losing cinematography. I mean COME ON. Gross.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Obligatory Oscar Winner Picks, My Top 10 List

I'm probably wrong on tons of these, but here they are... my pick for the winner, including one alternate. I have also included my preference of the nominees and my preference among all movies where I can.

Majors:

BEST PICTURE: The Departed

alt: Babel
Should win: The Departed

My Personal Favorite: Inland Empire

BEST DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese, The Departed

alt: Clint Eastwood, Letters From Iwo Jima
Should win: The Departed

My Perosnal Favorite: David Lynch, Inland Empire

BEST ACTOR: Peter O’Toole, Venus

alt: Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
Should win: Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson ***

My Personal Favorite: Gael Garcia Bernal, The Science of Sleep

*** Note that while I think Ryan Gosling gave the best performance of the nominees, I am still rooting for Peter O'Toole. This is his *eighth nomination*. Come on.

BEST ACTRESS: Helen Mirren, The Queen

alt: Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
Should win: Kate Winslet, Little Children

My Personal Favorite: Laura Dern, Inland Empire

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine

alt: Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Should win: Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children

My Personal Favorite: Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

alt: Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
Should win: Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal

My Personal Favorite: Shareeka Epps, Half Nelson

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Little Miss Sunshine

alt: The Queen
Should win: The Queen

My Personal Favorite: The Science of Sleep

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Departed

alt: Children of Men
Should win: The Departed

My Personal Favorite: The Departed

Minors/Techs:

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Children of Men

alt: Pan's Labyrinth
Should win: Children of Men

My Personal Favorite: Children of Men

BEST FILM EDITING: Babel

alt: The Departed
Should win: The Departed

My Personal Favorite: The Departed

BEST ART DIRECTION: Pan’s Labyrinth

alt: Dreamgirls
Should win: Pan's Labyrinth

My Personal Favorite: Children of Men

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Marie Antoinette

alt: Dreamgirls
Should win: Marie Antoinette

My Personal Favorite: Marie Antoinette

BEST SOUND: Dreamgirls

alt: Apocalypto
Should win: Apocalypto

My Personal Favorite: Inland Empire

BEST SOUND-EDITING: Letters From Iwo Jima

alt: Flags of Our Fathers
Should win: Apocalypto

My Personal Favorite: Monster House

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: The Good German

alt: The Queen
Should Win: The Good German

My Personal Preference: The Fountain

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: An Inconvenient Truth- “I Need to Wake Up”

alt: Cars- “Our Town”
Should win: An Inconvenient Truth - "I Need To Wake Up"

My Personal Preference: N/A **

** I have not listened to every original song from a movie in existance, so I'm not choosing here.

BEST MAKE UP: Pan’s Labyrinth

alt: Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest
Should win: Pan's Labyrinth

My Personal Preference: The Proposition

BEST VISUAL F/X: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

alt: Superman Returns
Should Win: Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest

My Personal Preference: Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Lives of Others

alt: Pan's Labyrinth
Should Win: N/A ***

My Personal Preference: Volver

*** I have not seen "The Lives of Others", "Days of Glory", or "After The Wedding" so I cannot choose here. I will be seeing the first two very soon, but after the Oscars.

BEST ANIMATED FILM: Cars

alt: Happy Feet
Should win: Monster House

My Personal Preference: A Scanner Darkly

BEST DOCUMENTARY: An Inconvenient Truth

alt: Deliver Us From Evil
Should win: An Inconvenient Truth

My Personal Preference: An Inconvenient Truth

** Note that I haven't seen Deliver us From Evil

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: Recycled Life

alt: The Blood of Yingzhou District
Should win and Personal Preference: N/A

BEST SHORT LIVE ACTION FILM: West Bank Story

alt: Binta and the Great Idea
Should win and Personal Preference: N/A

BEST ANIMATED SHORT: Maesto

alt: The Little Matchgirl
Should win and Personal Preference: N/A

Finally, my obligatory top ten list:

TOP TEN MOVIES OF THE YEAR:

1) Inland Empire
2) The Science of Sleep
3) Children of Men
4) The Departed
5) The Proposition
6) The Painted Veil
7) Marie Antoinette
8) Half Nelson
9) Volver
10) Little Children

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Final Oscar Nomination Predictions

THE PREDICTIONS

I've indicated my guess for winner in bold, and included two possible alternates.

Picture
Babel
The Departed
Dreamgirls
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

alt:
Letters From Iwo Jima
United 93

If you would've told me a few weeks ago that Babel would sweep all four guilds and Letters from Iwo Jima would get nothing, I would have probably laughed at you. I guess December 20th in three markets is too late of a release these days. Infact even Dreamgirls, which came out on three markets on the 15th, then many more the 25th, would have been pushing it had it not had so much hype all year... I mean I saw a preview for it last December. Once in I still think Dreamgirls is going to win, though. This is a little bit of a crazy year for picking the Best Picture winner, with so far the GG Drama going to Babel, Comedy/Musical to Dreamgirls, the BFCA to The Departed, and the PGA to Little Miss Sunshine. When you consider that The Queen will probably win the BAFTA, it really seems to be anyone's game at this point.

Director
Ajejandro Gonzalez Innaritu - Babel
Martin Scorsese – The Departed
Bill Condon - Dreamgirls
Clint Eastwood - Letters From Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears - The Queen

alt:
Paul Greengrass - United 93
Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris - Little Miss Sunshine

I still think they'll nominate Clint Eastwood despite the lack of guild notices. For whatever reason the academy loves him... and the ballots for the Oscars were due later than the guilds. He might split first place votes between his two films and end up with nothing. If that is the case then hello Paul Greengrass. Or if there is any justice in the world... Alfonso Cuaron for Children of Men. Also Pan's Labyrinth has a ridiculous amount of critical support so it could even be Guillermo Del Toro. As for the winner, I will be absolutely shocked if it isn't Scorsese. This is really his year, finally, it seems. He's doing what he does best and the competition isn't as great as the years he's been nominated in the past.

Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Departed
Sacha Baron Cohen - Borat
Peter O’Toole – Venus
Will Smith - The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland

alt:
Ryan Gosling - Half Nelson
Leonardo DiCaprio - Blood Diamond

Wouldn't it be great if the Oscars nominated something like Borat? I think it is a risk predicting it.. but, might as well try to have a little bit of fun here. Plus he did win the comedy globe, after all. I think Leonardio DiCaprio will get in for lead here, as he should, rather than supporting, where he was nominated by SAG. As for the winner, I think they will give O'Toole the makeup Oscar right now. But it might be Whitaker after all, he has racked up a very impressive amount of critical awards.

Actress
Penelope Cruz – Volver
Judi Dench - Notes on a Scandal
Helen Mirren – The Queen
Meryl Streep – The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet – Little Children

alt:
Naomi Watts - The Painted Veil
Maggie Gyllenhaal - Sherrybaby

I don't think any alternates are even necessary here... the most locked category in the history of awards predicting. It is too bad nobody has even seen The Painted Veil. Also, there is no possible way that Helen Mirren loses when it comes time for the ceremony.

Supporting Actor

Alan Arkin - Little Miss Sunshine
Jackie Earle Haley - Little Children
Eddie Murphy - Dreamgirls
Jack Nicholson – The Departed
Michael Sheen - The Queen

alt:
Mark Wahlberg - The Departed
Djimon Hounsou - Blood Diamond

This category is just messed up. I could end up only getting one correct. I think Nicholson gets in despite the SAG snub because the Oscar voters LOVE Nicholson, and he's in a probable Best Picture nominee, same with Sheen. Right now looks like an Eddie Murphy win, but could go to a number of other people as well.

Supporting Actress
Adriana Barraza - Babel
Cate Blanchett - Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin - Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi – Babel

alt:
Emily Blunt - The Devil Wears Prada
Catherine O'Hara - For Your Consideration

I don't like predicting two people from the same movie but I'm not sure who to replace and who to replace them with. I think this might be it though.... I don't think Emily Blunt or Catherine O'Hara (or anyone else, really) is strong enough to break the SAG lineup. Jennifer Hudson is going to win.

Adapted Screenplay
Children of Men
The Departed
Dreamgirls
The Devil Wears Prada
Little Children

alt:
Notes on a Scandal
Thank You For Smoking

Will the writers really nominate Dreamgirls, which doesn't really seem to be about writing, and indeed in my opinion has some serious script problems, but has the Best Picture Hype? The Departed will take this eventually, I don't think anything else is strong enough to take it down.

Original Screenplay
Babel
The Queen
Little Miss Sunshine
Pan's Labyrinth
United 93

alt:
Stranger Than Fiction
Volver

Will a foreign language entry like Volver or Pan's Labyrinth make it? Which WGA nominee will get snubbed? I'm guessing Pan's for Stranger Than Fiction. When the winner comes, I think it will be Little Miss Sunshine but I would not be surprised by The Queen either.

Final Oscar Nomination Thoughts

Well, it has been a strange month or so, and nominations are upon us in just a few days. Much changes in such a short period of time, so what has happened lately to affect the race?

The primary factor would be the nominations of the four guild associations, writers (WGA), directors (DGA), producers (PGA), and screen actors (SAG) guilds. The nominations that these groups of peopel give out are very important when looking to see what is going to come later for Oscar since these they represent supersets of the people who actually vote for the "big" nominations. In general, some of these groups tend to be a bit more populist and broad than their academy subsections; they are heavily populated by those in the industry who also work in television, not to mention the many film workers who have never been invited to be an academy member. Thus, it is possible for a critical favorite to miss at the guilds and still make it in fore the Oscar (not that Oscar voters care about the critics, they don't, but certain films which have limited releases and viewership is more likely to get recognized in a smaller group, that's just how voting favorite films among groups works). However, it really tells you that something has universal support when they pick the same choices across the board.

Now, when speaking to best picture chances, what you want to be looking at is the SAG Ensemble Award, the PGA, the DGA, as well as placement in either the WGA original or adapted category.

Five contenders have emerged so far, scoring the following nominations:

Babel:
SAG, PGA, DGA, WGA
The Departed:
SAG, PGA, DGA, WGA
Little Miss Sunshine:
SAG, PGA, DGA, WGA
Dreamgirls:
SAG, PGA, DGA
The Queen:
PGA, DGA, WGA

Several other movies scored WGA nominations as it has two categories. It is noteworthy that Dreamgirls missed out there, as well as The Queen missing out on the SAG Ensemble for Bobby. However, when the PGA and DGA (the two most reliable predicators of the four) match up 5/5, and these five films also match up 4/5 at the SAG Ensemble and 4/5 at the WGA..... well it pretty much means that the best picture race is pretty much set.

As for director, oddly enough, looking at the guilds (specially the DGA) is usually good for a 4/5 match, because this branch has the tendency to pick an out-of-leftfield nominee that didn't get much attention before. Previous examples of this (2005 had a rare 5/5 matchup) are the directing nominations for Vera Drake in 2004, City of God in 2003, Talk to Her in 2002, Mulholland Dr. in 2001, and Billy Elliot in 2000. What this means is that, at least lately, more often than not, the Picture lineup will only match the director lineup 4/5. While this might seem counterintuitive to some, remember that only the directors branch votes for nominations in the directors category, while the entire academy votes to nominate in the Best Picture category.

As for the acting categories, it is best to start with the SAG nominations:

Best Actress
Penelope Cruz, Volver
Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
Helen Mirren, The Queen
Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet, Little Children

Best Supporting Actress
Adriana Barraza, Babel
Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi, Babel

Best Actor
Leonardo Dicaprio, Blood Diamond
Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
Peter O'Toole, Venus
Will Smith, Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed
Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children
Djimon Honsou, Blood Diamond
Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls

Then you factor in the Globe nominations, and the Broadcast Film Critic nominations:

BEST ACTOR:
Leonardo DiCaprio – “Blood Diamond”
Leonardo DiCaprio – “The Departed”
Ryan Gosling – “Half Nelson”
Peter O’Toole – “Venus”
Will Smith – “The Pursuit of Happyness”
Forest Whitaker – “The Last King of Scotland”

BEST ACTRESS:
Penelope Cruz – “Volver”
Judi Dench – “Notes on a Scandal”
Helen Mirren – “The Queen”
Meryl Streep – “The Devil Wears Prada”
Kate Winslet – “Little Children”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Ben Affleck – “Hollywoodland”
Alan Arkin – “Little Miss Sunshine”
Adam Beach – “Flags of Our Fathers”
Djimon Hounsou – “Blood Diamond”
Eddie Murphy – “Dreamgirls”
Jack Nicholson – “The Departed”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Adriana Barraza – “Babel”
Cate Blanchett – “Notes on a Scandal”
Jennifer Hudson – “Dreamgirls”
Rinko Kikuchi – “Babel”
Catherine O’Hara – “For Your Consideration”
Emma Thompson – “Stranger Than Fiction”

And finally, the two major critics association awards:

New York Film Critics Circle:

Best Actress:
Helen Mirren, THE QUEEN
(Runners-up: Judi Dench, NOTES ON A SCANDAL, Meryl Streep, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA)
Best Actor:
Forest Whitaker, THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND
(Runners-up: Ryan Gosling, HALF NELSON, Sacha Baron Cohen, BORAT)

Best Supporting Actor:
Jackie Earle Haley, LITTLE CHILDREN
(Runners-up: Eddie Murphy, DREAMGIRLS, Steve Carell, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE)
Best Supporting Actress:
Jennifer Hudson, DREAMGIRLS
(Runners-up:Shareeka Epps, HALF NELSON, Catherine O'Hara, FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION)

Los Angeles Critics Association:

Actor:
Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat" and Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland" (tie) (no runner-up)

Actress:
Helen Mirren, "The Queen"
Runner-up: Penelope Cruz, "Volver"

Supporting actor:
Michael Sheen, "The Queen"
Runner-up: Sergi Lopez, "Pan's Labyrinth"

Supporting actress:
Luminita Gheorghiu, "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu"
Runner-up: Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"

The best way to think about this is that in the four categories, the SAG will generally go 4/5, on average, throughout the four categories. So you can use the Globes, or the BFCA, or even specific critic wins as a guide to see who might be the surprises. Plus, movies that are going to be nominated for Best Picture have a tendency of pulling an unexpected acting nomination or two with them.

With the writing categories, you have of course, the WGA nominees:

Original:
Babel
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen
Stranger Than Fiction
United 93

Adapted:
Borat
The Departed
The Devil Wears Prada
Little Children
Thank You for Smoking

These generally go somewhere between 3/5 to 4/5 correct at the Oscars. Also the most common type of movie to get lost in the shuffle are the comedies. For alternatives you can look to the Best Picture nominees, or also the BFCA nominations:

BEST WRITER:
Michael Arndt – “Little Miss Sunshine”
Guillermo Arriaga – “Babel”
Todd Field and Tom Perrotta – “Little Children”
Zach Helm – “Stranger Than Fiction”
William Monahan – “The Departed”
Peter Morgan – “The Queen”

Or of course the Globe nominees:

Peter Morgon -- The Queen
Guillermo Arriaga -- Babel
William Monahan -- The Departed
Todd Field, Tom Perrota -- Little Children
Patrick Marber -- Notes on a Scandal.

As well as the NYFCC (New York Film Critics Circle):

Best Screenplay:
The Queen
(Runners-up: The Departed, Little Miss Sunshine)

And the LAFCA (Los Angeles Film Critics Association):

Screenplay:
Peter Morgan, "The Queen"
Runner-up: Michael Arndt, "Little Miss Sunshine"

Finally there is the USC Scripter Award, which is given to adaptations only:

USC Scripter:
"Children of Men" (winner)
"The Devil Wears Prada"
"The Illusionist"
"Notes on a Scandal"
"The Last King of Scotland"

There are of course many other critics associations that give out individual awards, there are way too many of them to list, but you can look them up easily enough on the internet. And again, Best Picture nominees tend to pull other nominations, which might give an edge to Dreamgirls, the only likely nominee without any script recognition.

My predictions will follow in a different post but, it is probably best to listen to a little bit of conventional wisdom and play a couple hunches. There's usually something that seems a little wacky in the nominations, no matter how boring and predictable it seems beforehand. This is how you guess your Mike Leigh for Vera Drake or Terrence Howard for Hustle and Flow (although I got the first, and not the second). In the past four years, I've gone 35/40 (2005), 38/40 (2004), 35/40 (2003), and 32/40 (2002). Hopefully I can match my 2004 score, but due to the complexity of the supporting actor category, I seriously doubt it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Golden Globe Predictions

Well, this should be interesting this year because unlike in the three previous years, I don't really have any confidence in what is going to win at all. I got nine out of ten in 2005 (missed screenplay), nine out of ten in 2004 (missed Picture -- Drama), and ten out of ten in 2003... this year, well I will probably not do so well. Anyway..

THE PREDICTIONS:

Best Picture -- Drama
Babel

Best Picture -- Comedy or Musical
Dreamgirls

Best Actor -- Drama
Forest Whitaker -- The Last King of Scotland

Best Actor -- Comedy or Musical
Sasha Baron Cohen -- Borat

Best Actress -- Drama
Helen Mirren -- The Queen

Best Actress -- Comedy or Musical
Meryl Streep -- The Devil Wears Prada

Best Supporting Actor
Eddie Murphy -- Dreamgirls

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Hudson -- Dreamgirls

Best Director
Martin Scorsese -- The Departed

Best Screenplay
Babel

Best Original Song
"Listen" -- Dreamgirls

Best Original Score
Babel

Best Foreign Language Film
Letters From Iwo Jima

Best Animated Film
Happy Feet

I only really feel comfortable with five of the choices (both Best Actress, Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical, Director, and Supporting Actress). So since I am liable to do poorly anyway, I'll try and guess the four non-majors (Song, Score, Foreign Film, and Animated Film) as well.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Last Contender

Well, I saw Letters From Iwo Jima tonight.

First of all, the movie is an entirely different league than Flags of Our Fathers. I understand why people are grouping them together, but really they shouldn't. All the problems of the first movie, like the propensity for overly sentimental false scenes and severe structural problems that ruin the flow of the movie are largely absent.

There is just something that is a little spooky about watching a movie about a bunch of people who are about to die and know it, isn't there? It was handled pretty well. If this was "Flags" there probably would have been a scene along these lines:

-----------
Two men sit crouched on the ground with their backs to a small hill, hiding from gunfire flailing above their heads. A mortar goes off only a few feet away.

Shimizu:

Hey Saigo, remember that (really pleasant memory) back in (our hometown)?

Saigo:

Yeah. You (did some really kind and awesome thing for me, which I really appreciate). You're the best friend someone could ever have. You --

They are interrupted as Saigo is hit with gun fire.

Shimizu:
Saigo! Hold on, I'm not going to let you die!

Saigo:
It is too late for me. Please tell my (significant other of some fashion) that I love her.

Saigo dies.
-----------

Yeah, you get the point. I credit this to the difference in screenwriters mainly. Not that the movie isn't without problems. There is one pretty blatant violation of show-don't-tell where one scene has soldiers reading the letter to an American soldier from his mother, and you kind of think "hey this is a cool moment", and a couple of scenes later (cut to other people for a while) the movie comes back to the soldiers again and they feel the need to sit there and discuss how they feel when you could have inferred fairly easily that they realize that the common American soldier is not evil, is similar to them, etc, etc. Oh well. There's a couple of other scenes I would have preferred to be out as well, which would fit with my preference that the movie needs to have about 10 minutes or so cut.

Don't get me wrong though, it's a good movie and you should see it.

So that means that I've now seen all seven of the major Best Picture candidates (though there is still stuff left that I want to see, like Children of Men and The Painted Veil and a few others). I guess I would rank them by preference as follows:

1. The Departed
2. Letters From Iwo Jima
3. Little Miss Sunshine
4. United 93
5. The Queen
6. Babel
7. Dreamgirls

I also think that the movie is really super Oscarey. So at this point I'm changing my prediction and I think "Letters" is going to win. I still think Scorsese will take director. The only thing that might prevent it is that "Letters" doesn't seem to be the BD side victim of a Picture/Director split, whereas it would be a lot more plausible with say, Dreamgirls. Who knows.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

December Oscar Predictions (Post Golden Globe Nominations)

THE PREDICTIONS

I've indicated my guess for winner in bold, and included possible alternates with explanation.

Picture
The Departed
Dreamgirls
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

alt:
Babel
United 93

I would be pretty shocked if the five nominees didn't come from these seven contenders. Infact I would go as far to say that all of them except Little Miss Sunshine are probably a lock at this point, it is just a matter of what is going to be the fifth slot. I'm putting in Little Miss Sunshine because it makes sense as a "crowd-pleaser" choice, not to mention the fact that in most years there is one Best Director / Best Picture mismatch and it is the only one of the three I can really see getting nominated without a director mention.


Director
Martin Scorsese – The Departed
Bill Condon - Dreamgirls
Clint Eastwood - Letters From Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears - The Queen
Paul Greengrass - United 93

alt:
Ajejandro Gonzalez Innaritu - Babel
Robert Altman - A Prairie Home Companion

I'm more confident of these five. However you never know... I could see Bill Condon not getting nominated. I could also see Innaritu or Altman over Greengrass. Then again, sometimes there's a completely out-of-left-field choice that confuses everyone (like Fernando Meirelles from City of God).


Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Departed
Ryan Gosling - Half Nelson
Peter O’Toole – Venus
Will Smith - The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland

alt:
Sacha Baron Cohen - Borat
Ken Watanabe - Letters From Iwo Jima


I don't feel quite right predicting Will Smith given the reviews, but I am kind of thinking that he'll get in despite them at the moment. I also don't think Gosling is necessarily going to get in, but it is my best guess right now. I think it would be really great if the Academy nominated Borat (I hope he wins the Golden Globe.. that would be a really great acceptance speech I'm sure). I really want to pick Watanabe since I am thinking Letters will get something but I don't know who to bump for him.


Actress
Penelope Cruz – Volver
Judi Dench - Notes on a Scandal
Helen Mirren – The Queen
Meryl Streep – The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet – Little Children

alt:
Naomi Watts - The Painted Veil
Beyonce Knowles - Dreamgirls

This is probably the safest category right now. I'd be surprised if it isn't those five actresses. I'm including Naomi Watts as an alternate in case she gets recognition later on down the line, Beyonce in case there is some kind of a Dreamgirls frenzy.


Supporting Actor
Ben Affleck - Hollywoodland
Eddie Murphy - Dreamgirls
Jack Nicholson – The Departed
Brad Pitt – Babel
Michael Sheen - The Queen

alt:
Alan Arkin - Little Miss Sunshine
Djimon Hounsou - Blood Diamond

Now here is where it gets really hard. I think only Murphy and Nicholson are sure bets at this pont. Beyond my top five and my two alternates there's at least four more people I could see getting in fairly easily. We'll see!


Supporting Actress
Adriana Barraza - Babel
Cate Blanchett - Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin - Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi – Babel

alt:
Shareeka Epps - Half Nelson
Catherine O'Hara - For Your Consideration

This one is also fairly tough. I think only Jennifer Hudson is safe, and there is also at least three more contenders who could get in. I'm going with these right now.. although I am a little hesitant on prediction both women from Babel.


Adapted Screenplay
The Departed
Dreamgirls
Little Children
Notes on a Scandal
The Painted Veil

alt:
Thank You For Smoking
The Last King of Scotland

The screenplay categories are a little tougher. No precursor has an adapted screenplay category with five nominees (both the Globes and BFCA only have one single category). I'm going with the four nominees with the highest profile winner mentions, or nominations in the Globes and BFCAs, plus Dreamgirls because many times a Best Picture nominee will get pull in other categories.


Original Screenplay
Babel
The Queen
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
Stranger Than Fiction

alt:
United 93
Volver

See above. Basically I'm taking what has won critics awards as well as what I think will be nominated for Best Picture here.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

NBR (National Board of Review) Winners

Well, the first legitimate precursor award was announced today.

Why is it important? The best film here almost always gets nominated for best picture (it has all but two times since 1990) and usually four, many times all five best picture nominees are in the top ten (sometimes there are exceptions to this, like 2001, when they only had two). The eventual best picture winner has only not shown up in the top 10 twice. The acting awards aren't so reliable but sometimes they can give someone a boost.

The best film choice is certainly interesting, as well as what they left out of the top ten (Dreamgirls and The Queen if you didn't notice on your own). Finally, go Marty!

I think that Dreamgirls has entirely too much hype going for it to miss out on the Oscars... but maybe The Queen is in danger? The buzz for it (beyond Mirren) seems to be dying down.

I don't think I'm changing my Best Picture guess (The Departed, Dreamgirls, Little Miss Sunshine, Letters From Iwo Jima, The Queen) based on this... but it makes me feel a bit better about perhaps jumping the gun on Letters. I might have to rethink Stranger Than Fiction in screenplay and The Painted Veil in a few categories though. There is really no point in putting out more predictions at this point when so little would change when the Golden Globes and NY and LA film critics all give us more info next week.

It is worthy to note how much things can change though. I remember at about this point last year I would've told you there's no way Munich is going to lose if it isn't a letdown. If not that then Brokeback Mountain is definitely going to win. Oops. Seems to be a similar parallel that exists to Dreamgirls and Letters from Iwo Jima vs. The Departed. Which obviously means that something random from earlier in the year like Little Miss Sunshine is going to win. Hah.

The results:

Best Film: LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
Best Director: MARTIN SCORSESE, The Departed
Best Actor: FOREST WHITAKER, The Last King of Scotland
Best Actress: HELEN MIRREN, The Queen
Best Supporting Actor: DJIMON HOUNSOU, Blood Diamond
Best Supporting Actress: CATHERINE O'HARA, For Your Consideration
Best Foreign Film: VOLVER
Best Documentary: AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
Best Animated Feature: CARS
Best Ensemble Cast: THE DEPARTED
Breakthrough Performance by an Actor: RYAN GOSLING, Half Nelson
Breakthrough Performance by an Actress: (2)
JENNIFER HUDSON, Dreamgirls and RINKO KIKUCHI, Babel
Best Directorial Debut: JASON REITMAN, Thank You for Smoking
Best Original Screenplay: ZACH HELM, Stranger Than Fiction
Best Adapted Screenplay: RON NYSWANER, The Painted Veil

Top Ten:
"Letters From Iwo Jima"
"Babel"
"Blood Diamond"
"The Departed"
"The Devil Wears Prada"
"Flags Of Our Fathers"
"The History Boys"
"Little Miss Sunshine"
"Notes on a Scandal"
"The Painted Veil"


Top Foreign Film: "Volver"

Top Documentary: "An Inconvenient Truth"

How Disurbing is This?

Wow

Friday, November 24, 2006

November Oscar Predictions

Time for another set of predictions!

So very much can change in a month. The highlights:

-- Dreamgirls is definitely in. I held out as long as possible on this one, but when you get the Oprah show, and the other massive amounts of praise from people who have been to screenings, well it is too hard to ignore. What is pretty unbelievable actually is that in at least 3 locations (NYC, LA, SF) they are playing the movie on a limited basis for 1-2 shows per day for $25. That's a 250% markup to get a worthless program and have a seizure, if the movie is anything like the trailer. I think I will be skipping the engagement at the Metreon... because, well, I am certain that I will hate it. I'll have to see it eventually though, because I think it will win, and I'll need to have seen it to have the proper rancor against it when it beats out something I like more. Especially if it also wins director, which I don't think it will, but you never know, I might have my first dose of indignant "Marty lost!" hate (I didn't think either of his previous two nominations deserved wins on any level, and I was too young or didn't care prior to that).

-- Little Children is out of Best Picture and I think Babel probably is as well. Little Children because it is suffering from the single most miserable release strategy of the year by any studio. If nobody actually sees it, it will be seen as a failure. Is it playing near you? Was it ever playing near you? Yeah, I didn't think so. Which is really too bad, because it had a great critical response, and I personally really liked it. Babel is simply too divisive critically for the amount of money it made. It is a little weirder to give my opinion on this one, because well, there's really four movies in one, and one of them is great, two of them are alright, and one of them is fairly bad. I still think other categories are possible (in some cases probable) but not Picture.

-- Letters From Iwo Jima is being released this year, probably because it's intended release around Oscar time to support Flags of Our Fathers is fairly pointless since Flags was a bomb of fairly epic proportions. It isn't even going to make half its budget back. Not to mention that it was a terrible movie. Although word on Letters is good, *and* its Clint Eastwood, *and* it is in Japanese! If the mainstream critics liked Flags, they will like anything he does. This time the film has an excuse to fail commercially (it isn't in English), not to mention the fact that it is being released late enough so that the general success of the movie will be up in the air still come nomination time anyway. This is why Oscarbait used to get primarily released in December, but the general proliferation of precursor awards is forcing everyone to push stuff back earlier if they actually want to win.

-- What I'm hearing on The Good German so far is just too mixed. I think some people are going to like it and some people are going to hate it. I'm taking it out of Picture for good and leaving it out of everything else until I can gauge it better. I think I will probably like it, but who knows.

-- I'm putting Little Miss Sunshine in as the crowd-pleasing more accessible choice, because I don't have any idea for something more likely.

-- Some things I'm just waiting on a reaction because it is way too hard to read. Major players here are The Good Sheppard, Breaking and Entering, and The Painted Veil. We'll see... could be some acting nominations out of those.

THE PREDICTIONS

I've indicated my guess for winner in bold, and included possible alternates with explanation.

Picture
The Departed
Dreamgirls
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

alt: United 93, if it has massive end-of-year critic awards.

Director
Martin Scorsese – The Departed
Bill Condon - Dreamgirls
Clint Eastwood - Letters From Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears - The Queen
Pedro Almodovar - Volver

alt: Robert Altman - A Prairie Home Companion, or Paul Greengrass - United 93. The former because sadly, he passed away recently (and you never know what kind of sympathy that might generate), the latter because of the same reason I listed in Picture.

Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Departed
Peter O’Toole – Venus
Will Smith - The Pursuit of Happyness
Ken Watanabe - Letters From Iwo Jima
Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland

alt: Ryan Gosling - Half Nelson. Is the movie too small? Will anyone notice? Hopefully. And interesting note here, it will be pretty funny if everyone gets the chance to say "IT IS LAWRENCE OF ARABIA VS. THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR IN THE BEST ACTOR SHOWDOWN!". I can't see them resisting Peter O'Toole if the movie is good enough, but then again Will Smith had the Oprah show.

Actress
Penelope Cruz – Volver
Judi Dench - Notes on a Scandal
Helen Mirren – The Queen
Meryl Streep – The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet – Little Children

alt: Naomi Watts - The Painted Veil. Will anyone care about her movie? I probably will -- she has won my personal best actress award 3 times in the past five years.

Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin - Little Miss Sunshine
Eddie Murphy - Dreamgirls
Jack Nicholson – The Departed
Brad Pitt – Babel
Michael Sheen - The Queen

alt: Jackie Earle Haley - Little Children. Will people see this movie as anything but a reason to nominate Kate Winslet (if they even do that). They should, but given the spectacular failure of the studio on this I am not sure.

Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett - Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin - Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi – Babel
Carmen Maura - Volver

alt: Adriana Barraza -- Babel. She could replace her costar.

Original Screenplay
Babel
The Queen
Little Miss Sunshine
The Pursuit of Happyness
Volver

alt: United 93, if it hits with the critics awards.

Adapted Screenplay
The Departed
Dreamgirls
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Children
Notes on a Scandal

alt: A Prairie Home Companion, possible in with Altman?

There's still a little over a month left of releasing, so you never know what might change here. But things look to be solidifying finally... it is not the December Oscars anymore.

Incidentally, I've updated the right sidebar with my *personal* preferences. Two new BP entries this month!