Column? We don’t need no stinking column.

Posted by · 2:31 pm · December 2nd, 2008

Turns out I don’t have the time to dig into a full column this week like I had hoped.  I’ll have to get into my thoughts on “Gran Torino” and “Seven Pounds” another time, but I do feel the need to note one thing in this week’s charts: “The Dark Knight” leaping into the Best Picture fray.

I still don’t feel completely comfortable with this.  It was a coin flip on whether to take “Frost/Nixon” or “Revolutionary Road” out of the mix.  Meanwhile, no one seems to be hearing passionate murmurs from the Academy on the Caped Crusader.  So maybe I look like I’m pulling my punches here, but with the consistency of disappointment this year, I just feel like the door is opening for something that strays this much from AMPAS tradition to find its way in.

That said, there are things at work here that should be taken into account.  Like the international stake Warner Bros. has in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” for instance, owning every territory but North America.  The studio is even taking out some of the Oscar ads you’re seeing for the film.  So perhaps chips are being rationed toward a film like “Button” that will need the box office boost of awards season rather than a film like “The Dark Knight,” which has made more than its fair share of dollars.

This is all fodder for another column at another time.  But for now, I can’t dive in appropriately.  So I’ll just leave you with the charts.  This time next week I’ll have seen the full slate of contenders and the National Board of Review will have come and gone.  Then it’s LAFCA, NYFCC and onward into the season.  Slowly, it will unfold.

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→ 30 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Off the Carpet

30 responses so far

  • 1 12-02-2008 at 2:36 pm

    Chad said...

    For what it’s worth, the IMAX re-release has been abandoned.

  • 2 12-02-2008 at 2:43 pm

    Speaking English said...

    I wouldn’t have done that. “Revolutionary Road” is still at this point a major contender, right up there with “Button” and “Milk” as the year’s surest thing. When it gets all those other noms, including 3 for acting, it’s surely going to make it into Picture. And the word it’s gotten has been wonderful so far.

  • 3 12-02-2008 at 2:47 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Nothing sure about it, English.

    It’s all conjecture for a bit. I certainly held out on TDK longer than anyone else out there. Maybe it was foolish to cave. Maybe not. We’ll see.

  • 4 12-02-2008 at 2:52 pm

    Dan said...

    at this point, Milk appears to be a lock for the nom. Slumdog to a lesser extent. Austrailia is completely out of the running, so i see no reason to have it boosted on your list. Frost/Nixon is dwindling… and the Dark Knight hype train is slowing down for me. Everyone is downplaying The Wrestler, but I consider it to be a VERY viable contender and a near-lock for a Best Picture nom.

  • 5 12-02-2008 at 2:56 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    The techs of Australia keep it in the conversation if nothing else, but I don’t look at much beyond the top 6 to be honest. (It’s only “boosted” because “Gran Torino” has left the chart completely.)

    Also, commenters keep talking about Frost/Nixon dwindling and the damn film hasn’t even opened yet. As in: THE MAJORITY OF CRITICS HAVEN’T WEIGHED IN. I am as eager to move on from this season as the next guy, but you folks seem real eager to chalk something up as an also ran based on a couple of assessments.

    And pass what you’re smoking if you think The Wrestler is a near-lock.

  • 6 12-02-2008 at 2:59 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    All of that said with love, of course.

    I don’t know. This is a weird week for me. The last crunch before precursors start to make sense of a cluttered, awkward season. Not my best showing, difficult to back up this call or that beyond the ole’ “gut instinct” line.

  • 7 12-02-2008 at 3:03 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Wow, “Gran Torino” not so good, or just not for the Academy?

    People seem to be underestimating “Frost/Nixon” as well, a film that will surely play spectacularly with older audiences and political-minded folk looking for sharp, solid, well-rounded entertainment with a message. I’d say it’s in.

    As far as “Australia” goes, it’s looking at 4 or 5 nominations still, and word from audiences has been much, MUCH more enthusiastic than the critical reception (which has me completely bewildered).

  • 8 12-02-2008 at 3:08 pm

    McGuff said...

    Kris, I eagerly await your thoughts on Torino (which you have hinted at) and Seven Pounds. Surely it’s telling that Torino dropped out of your top 10 and Seven Pounds entered so many Top 10s. It seems like “7Lbs.” made an impression on you.

    Frustratingly, I have still not seen nearly enough of these movies, so it’s hard for me to comment too much. I did see “Australia” this weekend, and I would personally not have it in my contenders list anymore. It really seems like the talk surrounding this film damned it — when you call a pic an “epic,” than everything in the story must be epic: the romance, the action, etc. In the end, the film is problematic, and the only thing epic is Luhrmann’s obvious ambitions for his project.

    And as someone that loved the “Frost/Nixon” play, I’m not counting it out at all. It really has begun to look like this season is dwindling the competitors list down to 6, however, and I can’t really venture a guess at who is left out: Button, TDK, F/N, Slumdog, Milk and RR. Outside of Slumdog and TDK, for somewhat obvious reasons, I think it might come down to box office numbers there.

  • 9 12-02-2008 at 3:09 pm

    Diego said...

    THE LOCKS ARE:

    1-Benjamin button
    2-Slumdog Millionaire
    3-Milk

    The reader, Changeling, TDK, Wall-E, Revolutionary road, The Wrestler, Doubt and Frost/Nixon….

    My prediction:
    Benjmin button
    Slumdog
    Milk
    The Wrestler
    Revolutionary road/TDK

  • 10 12-02-2008 at 3:19 pm

    Blake said...

    I would agree with Kris that this race really looks like it’s down to 6 contenders:

    Button, Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Milk, Revolutionary Road, and Slumdog.

    On the other hand, I haven’t seen The Wrestler yet but the clips I’ve seen so far seem to indicate it could possibly make the final 5. The only thing that’s keeping me back is a general consensus that it isn’t an academy movie. But how can we be so sure, when the same was said last year about No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. I’d say it’s in the seventh position.

    Australia got enough negative reviews to keep it out of the top ten completely. Besides, the techs were rather bad on the film. Art Direction and Costume Design seem fine, but the editing was some of the most jarring I’ve seen in recently memory, the sound design was lackluster and the score was bombastic and inconsistent. And the cinematography has some landscape money shots, but some shots looked really unconvincing from a lighting standpoint. I think ASC members will catch on to that and deny it a nomination.

    Doubt and The Reader are bound to get better reviews than Australia. While flawed they may be, they both have their camp of supporters, something Australia is lacking in both reviews and box office.

    Seven Pounds looks goofy. The Pursuit of Happiness had a better chance, I think. I would suggest Rachel Getting Married or Gomorra for the tenth spot. The critics groups and guilds could bring those movies into the open.

    I don’t think the academy will want Clint singing at the Oscars.

  • 11 12-02-2008 at 3:45 pm

    John Y. said...

    So why is “Doubt” not a contender?

  • 12 12-02-2008 at 3:48 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    A variety of reasons. Nothing particularly cinematic about the film and most of the Academy attention is directed at the performances.

  • 13 12-02-2008 at 3:54 pm

    Chris said...

    I actually think “Rachel Getting Married” might surprise many in the end. It’s just this sort of gut feeling I have which never works out.

    But that’s just where I stand. Right now I think it will come down to: Slumdog Millionaire, Ben Button, Milk, Revolutionary Road and Frost/Nixon, with The Reader and Rachel Getting Married coming in behind them.

    But, of course, I haven’t seen any of them yet. So it doesn’t mean much.

  • 14 12-02-2008 at 4:08 pm

    Harmonica said...

    I think that The Dark Knight still has a chance. In fact, it’s the film I’m most rooting for a nom (alongside Benjamin Button…way to go, Warner!). And we still have to consider how amazing it is that the film got this far. In this Oscar season, we watched giants fall (Australia, The Road, Miracle at St. Anna, etc). And now it all boils down to a few movies. I’d say they are:

    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    Milk
    Slumdog Millionaire
    Revolutionary Road
    Frost/Nixon (unfortunately…Seriously, more Ron Howard?)
    The Reader
    The Dark Knight

    Look at that. We’re talking about a July released blockbuster making it into the Oscar shortlist. Of course, it IS the biggest blockbuster since Return of the King (both financially and critically) and the Academy has to consider that. Most of all, it’s an almost masterpiece. It’s a haunting tragedy. And I’m glad many people realized that. The Dark Knight in the 2009 Oscars. I believe.

  • 15 12-02-2008 at 4:30 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Frost/Nixon will get in. It’s not a brilliant film, but simply very decent and well made. It won’t have many people really hating it and not many truly admiring it either but reviews will be good/solid. With all those other films dividing the critics, that’s the reason it will get in.

  • 16 12-02-2008 at 4:54 pm

    Holly said...

    Can’t see “Frost/Nixon” in the best five and not “Revolutionary Road”

  • 17 12-02-2008 at 5:06 pm

    Dignan said...

    I also think Rachel Getting Married should be in the conversation, especially if you’re making the point that so many films are dropping out of the race. It’s a film that’s universally acclaimed and will get another bump once year end lists/critics awards start rolling in in the next few weeks (I predict it takes NYFCC for whatever that’s worth). Demme is a past winner, it will have strong appeal to actors (3 potential nominees in those categories) and Lumet Jr. is a legacy.

    At the very least Demme should be on the charts for director. It’s precisely the sort of odd man in nomination we’ve come to expect.

  • 18 12-02-2008 at 5:55 pm

    Patrick F. said...

    Jesus,
    you must have really hated GT. It can’t be that bad, can it? I mean, I read your script review.

    I’m still not sold that Milk or Benjamin Button are locks at all. Something gives me the feeling that either could be snubbed for BP. Benjamin Button just has the feel of one of those mammoths that jus CAN’T lose and suddenly they aren’t there, a la Road To Perdition, or Cinderella Man or Dreamgirls… somehow they defy expectations and get snubbed, only Munich and Finding Neverland avoided the curse of the predestined one.

    and Milk… call me crazy but something just tells me it could be a suprise snub as well. It’s too pro-gay in a “non-Aids”y way. The academy likes gays as long as they aren’t heroic or charismatic, and they have been “Hot/Cold” to Sean Penn and Gus Van Zant. I would not be suprised at all to see snubbes for either of these films in place of something like Rachael Getting Married or Defiance.

  • 19 12-02-2008 at 5:56 pm

    Patrick F. said...

    I meant, Gus Van Sant. I often confuse him with Southern Rocker Towne Van Zant.

  • 20 12-02-2008 at 6:25 pm

    Jamieson said...

    I agree with pulling Revolutionary Road. I thought the film was overwrought and the script was on-the-nose tripe. The crowd at the DGA here in NYC the other day seemed to largely agree, laughing at many seemingly unintended moments. That film was the biggest disappointment of the year for me in terms of what I’d been looking forward to.

    There were definitely some people here and there buzzing about liking it walking, but not very many doing so with any sort of passion. More just, polite.

  • 21 12-02-2008 at 6:27 pm

    Jamieson said...

    *walking out that was ^.

    Additionally, I know that no one screening could possibly be a strong indication of where the race is going, one outside Los Angeles at that, but that sort of consensus in a room leaves an impression.

  • 22 12-02-2008 at 6:34 pm

    Zan said...

    Where is this homosexual precedence in honoring “non-heroic gays” you speak of, Patrick? The way you stated that seemed a bit intolerant. I may have just misunderstood though.

    As far as the predictions, Kris, I agree with a lot. I think “The Dark Knight” will slide in too. I think, though, that “The Wrestler” will help knock out both “Revolutionary Road” and the bland looking “Frost/Nixon.”

    One point of dispute is that if you’re willing to drop “Torino” all the way off, wouldn’t Clint feel some of that backlash? I was surprised to see Richard Jenkins not in there (he’s currently in my top 5).

  • 23 12-02-2008 at 11:21 pm

    The InSneider said...

    I think you’re “misunderestimating” Doubt and The Wrestler. I think they are both very much in the discussion for BP noms. They might fight over that 5th slot but they’re both as good as if not better than the rest of those films that people consider locks, outside of Button, which I haven’t seen yet and may wait til Christmas Day for. Shocking, I know. Bottom line: Doubt/Wrestler > Milk/Revolutionary Road.

  • 24 12-02-2008 at 11:24 pm

    Rob Scheer said...

    “I agree with pulling Revolutionary Road. I thought the film was overwrought and the script was on-the-nose tripe. The crowd at the DGA here in NYC the other day seemed to largely agree, laughing at many seemingly unintended moments. That film was the biggest disappointment of the year for me in terms of what I’d been looking forward to.”

    I was at the 34th Street screening you’re talking about, and while I didn’t notice great passion one way or the other (though applause was hearty), the troubling, inappropriate laughter throughout didn’t seem to be out of derision, but rather discomfort.

    With due respect, I think you’re projecting your own thoughts on the film onto the crowd.

  • 25 12-02-2008 at 11:27 pm

    Rob Scheer said...

    Oh, and no fucking way in hell does “Doubt” or “The Wrestler” have better shots at a nomination than “Milk” and “Revolutionary Road.”

    We must remember that our own opinions on movies don’t necessarily represent mass sentiment or transcend past Academy voting history.

  • 26 12-03-2008 at 1:04 am

    John Y. said...

    Truly, it’s down to 7 films: Milk, Benjamin Button, Slumdog Millionaire, The Dark Knight, Doubt, Revolutionary Road, and Frost/Nixon.

  • 27 12-03-2008 at 5:46 am

    JAB said...

    finally you put Dark Knight into the top 5! Except now having seen Milk and Slumdog, and now dying to see benjamin button, i know there’s no way it will win. It really is deserving of a nomination though

  • 28 12-03-2008 at 5:50 am

    JAB said...

    though i find it hard to see Button winning 7 or 8 awards and not best picture, especially if it takes Best Actress and Adapted Screenplay.

  • 29 12-03-2008 at 7:20 am

    Jamieson said...

    “I was at the 34th Street screening you’re talking about”

    I was at the Director’s Guild (which is on 57th) screening, not the 34th street screening.

  • 30 12-03-2008 at 8:41 am

    Patrick F said...

    Zan, what I meant was, Traditionally, The academy has been tolerant of Homosexual roles when they were dying of AIDS or Truman Capote. My point is more that they like to ghetto those roles. Sorry for the confusion. I wish I’d picked my words a little better.

    I still remember the surprise Brokeback Mountain loss.