Ahem…Oscar possibilities for ‘Vicky’ OUTSIDE of Cruz?

Posted by · 7:40 pm · August 20th, 2008

Rebecca Hall in Vicky Cristina BarcelonaI’m not the first to grant accolades to Woody Allen for his immensely pleasurable and beautiful new film, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” It’s every bit Mr. Allen: funny, pretentious, absurd, cynical, honest, witty and fair.

We have debated in this space a few times the merits of Mr. Allen’s recent work. He was hailed by critics for “Match Point,” a brutal and deceptive tale of adultery and murder in London. It earned him his 14th screenplay nomination and his 21st nomination overall, which ties him with Billy Wilder if I’m remembering my Oscar history accurately.

He followed that up with “Scoop,” a not-so-funny film that reminded me, unfortunately, of “Small Time Crooks,” and “Cassandra’s Dream,” a better yet still modest film that did illustrate Colin Farrell’s true potential as an actor. It didn’t go anywhere with critics and was given an early 2008 release date: Siberia for the Oscar-driven. But he’s rebounded, again, with his most recent film for which he smartly cast Penélope Cruz and recent Oscar winner Javier Bardem. Their efforts and talents match perfectly; they are a dynamic on-screen force.

As most people know by now, the film takes place in Barcelona and involves a circular love affair between two American girls, Vicky and Cristina, played by Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson (whom also starred in “Match Point” and “Scoop”) and Mr. Bardem, an artist, and Ms. Cruz, a crazy artist.

The film should be a lock for Best Original Screenplay. It’s as good as “Match Point,” if not better (for different reasons), and reminded me, perhaps because of the voice-over narration, of “Husbands and Wives,” which also received a screenplay nod (it lost to “The Crying Game”).

And the same should probably be true for Ms. Cruz, who is devastating and brilliant; she radiates on screen. She received critical acclaim in the foreign film “Volver,” for which she received her first Oscar nomination, although she’d appeared in more commercial films like “Vanilla Sky,” “Blow,” “All the Pretty Horses” and “Sahara” (sadly) long before then.

Mr. Bardem is perhaps the most curious of the Oscar-caliber performances. The Best Supporting Actor race will be packed with popular names: Heath Ledger, Russell Crowe, Robert Downey Jr., Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Brad Pitt, (“Burn After Reading”), Philip Seymour Hoffman…as well as potential spoilers like Michael Shannon, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Eddie Marsan.  So Bardem’s chances are either none, or as good as the rest.  We’ll see.

And keep your eye on Ms. Hall, who plays Vicky in the film. She’s wonderful. I noticed that Mr. Lodge is keeping a watch out for her too.

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10 responses so far

  • 1 8-20-2008 at 7:46 pm

    Jamie said...

    The problem for me with advocating Rebecca Hall for the Oscars is category confusion. I know crazier has happened, but I think she is pretty clearly the lead actress in the film. Especially with Penelope Cruz already seeming a sure thing in the supporting category I don’t see how they could do the same with Hall.

  • 2 8-20-2008 at 8:15 pm

    Billyboy said...

    The question is: Supporting or Lead? Her work is great, but as Jamie said category confusion might damage her chances. The studio should push a Lead nomination.

    She looks really good too in the Frost/Nixon trailer. Definitely an actress to watch in years to come.

    Assuming VCB is almost a lock in Original screenplay and Supporting actress, what about a director nod? What about cinematography? Not too strong on those areas, but they might have a chance.

  • 3 8-20-2008 at 8:22 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I actually quite enjoyed the cinematography. A total long-shot, of course, but it was its own character.

  • 4 8-20-2008 at 11:04 pm

    Bryan said...

    Blake, I wish I shared your same feelings on Allen’s screenplay, but I don’t. I’ll steal from Tapley’s review of the movie, even if Kris goes on to dispel it: “the abrupt nature with which the narrative abandons Juan Antonio and Marie Elena and shuffles Vicky and Cristina off to the rest of their lives.” I found the movie to be too often abrupt (Cristina’s exit from her relationship with the two Spaniards), I found the omniscient narration to be lazy, and while the humor always worked for me, the story never got there.

    Is it to the point where Allen’s screenplays get instantaneously elevated by the name that appears on the front, I wonder.

    (Also, I learned that the Spanish in the movie was improv by Bardem-Cruz. While the structure was Allen’s, the hilarious English-Spanish conversations are owed at least as much to the actors as the writer.)

  • 5 8-20-2008 at 11:44 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    There is no way they’ll push Hall for lead, since there is absolutely no chance in hell she could get nominated there. Supporting is the way to go, with the nomination as the reward – she’s at the stage in her career where that would be enough to make a major difference.

  • 6 8-21-2008 at 4:09 am

    movielocke said...

    Cruz already has a nom for Supporting locked up. They should push Rebecca Hall and Javier Bardem in lead categories and they just might secure a suprise nom for either, especially as both deliver much better, richer performances than Cruz’s excellent single note. Woody could also earn another directorial nod. Depending on how well the film continues to play through december and how many of the RevvyRoad-esque pure bait films fail the film may be possible at BP, certainly one to keep around as a BP possibility, especially if many films disappoint.

  • 7 8-21-2008 at 7:09 am

    Princess of Peace said...

    Bardem and Hall are leads. They have good shots at nominations for Golden Globe in the comedy category. Oscor nominations – I don’t know but I would love it if they were both acknowledged for their work. And I think that the film could get an ensemble SAG nomination.

  • 8 8-21-2008 at 10:07 am

    Jesse Escobar said...

    Guy: Rebecca Hall I think is EVEN Better than Penelope Cruz in this film. I was so invested in her from the moment the movie started. I wanted to follow her even after this movie ended. Whenever a character does that to me, there MUST be a nomination. Do you honestly think that she will be swept up? I definitely agree that supporting is the way to go in this, especially with so many people in this film. It’s not like SWEET & LOWDOWN where there were two people, and even then Samantha Morton got a supporting actress nomination, right?

  • 9 8-21-2008 at 10:30 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I can only guess, Jesse. I just think the Academy quite often likes to honour the subtler performance alongside the scene-stealer – the best example I can think of, and I’ve cited this before, is Gosford Park. Maggie Smith had all the buzz, until the critics latched onto Helen Mirren’s less flashy work, and they both wound up nominated.

    Plus, Woody Allen films have a great history in the acting races – few predicted Jennifer Tilly getting nominated beside Dianne Wiest in 1995.

    But I’m wrong as often as I’m right, particularly this early in the game.

  • 10 8-21-2008 at 11:35 am

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    I don’t think Hall goes to Lead Category, even to Golden Globes, because we know how the HTTP loves the Stars (Last year John Travolta and Julia Roberts nominations). So I think Scarlett Johansson could be a contender for Best Actress in Comedy and Rebeca with pe in supporting category, but I could be wrong.

    Hall has chances-unleast now in supporting category instead lead, because lead is full of stars and overdues actresses and supporting category is still a little bit boring