Wells joins the guessing game

Posted by · 1:55 am · July 14th, 2008

In response to Tom O’Neil’s contender shortlist that I discussed yesterday, Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere has come up with his own list of Best Picture frontrunners – and predicted also-rans. (O’Neil has since significantly amended his list, by the way – wisely removing “Blindness” and “Synecdoche, New York” from Best Picture consideration, and adding some titles including, bizarrely, “Mamma Mia!” Meanwhile, names like Tommy Lee Jones, Rachel McAdams and Kristin Scott Thomas enter the actors’ mix.)

Wells’ top choices include “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (which he describes as “not the front-runner,  but the contender with the best script”), “Milk,” “Doubt,” “Gran Torino,” “Frost/Nixon,” “W” and “The Visitor.” “W” is a predictably contentious selection; I certainly know a few people who would disagree with his assertion that it “works on the page.”

Rather more fun is Wells’ rundown of the titles that he thinks don’t have a prayer, which he breaks down as follows:

“Appaloosa” (possibly worthy Ed Harris western but New Line leftover status dooms it); “Burn After Reading” (a dry Coen brothers goof, not an Oscar film); “Body of Lies” (I know nothing about this brilliant Middle Eastern spy thriller that would qualify it as Oscar bait); “Changeling” (Best Actress nom for Angelina Jolie but the film, while dramatically solid and well made, just isn’t stratospheric enough); “The Dark Knight” (are Tom and Pete having us off?); “Defiance” (an Ed Zwick World War II movie about Russian-Jewish resistance guerillas…hello?); “Mamma Mia!” (all right, that’s enough); “Miracle at St. Anna” (a Spike Lee movie in which a bank teller is shot by an old guy having a memory seizure?) and “Vicki Cristina Barcelona” (can’t and won’t happen).

I must say I agree with him on most counts there – in particular, I’ll be somewhat surprised if “Miracle at St. Anna” and “Defiance” even turn out to be good films, let alone Best Picture possibilities. I can’t help thinking, though, that some little picture that’s slipped through all these lists will sneak up on us later this year. We sure weren’t talking about “Juno” a year ago.

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4 responses so far

  • 1 7-14-2008 at 3:42 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Wells has the incentive to pin a movie completely on the basis of it’s script. It’s not always a fair practice.

  • 2 7-14-2008 at 4:22 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Agreed, Jonathan – it’s all just guesswork until we actually see the films. But with nothing else to go on, it’s fair enough to have high hopes for a film based on a strong script. (In the case of W, however, he seems to be the script’s lone defender.)

  • 3 8-05-2008 at 3:41 pm

    cuchieddie said...

    Jeff Wells is an ignorant arrogant asshole

  • 4 8-05-2008 at 4:54 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    He knows his stuff and hoofs it like no other journalist I know in this town, cuchieddie. If you take umbrage with his Oscar prognostication prowess, fair enough. But be civil…you haven’t earned the stones to toss that kind of grenade his way.