2009’s Oscar drought…same old song and dance

Posted by · 3:53 pm · June 23rd, 2009

Michael Caine in Is Anybody There?Over at Variety, newly minted editor-in-chief Tim Gray writes what we’ve been mentioning around these parts for a while: the first half of the 2009 film year is decidedly bereft of anything that might be deemed “Oscar-worthy” come January 2010.

Aside from “Star Trek” and “Up,” the recognized critical faves of the year thus far, the best films I have seen are Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker,” Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s “Sugar,” Duncan Jones’s “Moon” and Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies,” but I expect only two of those could stir the awards pot.

Critics have also responded, intriguingly, to Sam Raimi’s “Drag Me to Hell,” but I think we all know it’s safe to strike that one from the awards roster.  And Focus Features’ “Coraline” is likely to make an impact on the animated feature race, but beyond that, you’d be hard-pressed to offer much in the way of a solid list as we approach the mid-way point.

Of course, that just means, as usual, the likely Oscar contenders this year will be back-loaded in the fall.  Gray asks a number of the obvious questions in his piece but most of it concerns the “rules” of Oscar-watching that we all know and love.

Here’s a taste:

Two of the best-reviewed films of the year are Paramount’s “Star Trek” and Disney-Pixar’s “Up.” The pair offer parallels to last year’s “The Dark Knight” and “Wall-E” — popular popcorn films that merit serious awards consideration. Many lamented the fact that last year’s duo missed out on best-pic Oscar noms. Will that raised consciousness help this year’s duo?…

Did enough people see (and love) Overture’s “Sunshine Cleaning,” Big Beach’s Michael Caine starrer “Is Anybody There?,” Focus Features’ Cary Fukunaga-helmed “Sin nombre” and this week’s Summit pic “Hurt Locker”? Last year voters for the Golden Globes and Oscar saluted “In Bruges” — a terrific script, but a February bow and $7 million domestic take — so it’s possible dark horses will be remembered.

I’ll get around to Oscar updating in the coming days or weeks.  It is the mid-way point, after all, and those things are already outdated in a number of areas.  Soon.

→ 13 Comments Tags: , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

13 responses so far

  • 1 6-23-2009 at 6:14 pm

    Jeremy said...

    Any chance that “Duplicity” will receive some Oscar love? I know “Adventureland” has no shot despite a beautiful screenplay, but I’m hoping that the pedigree of “Duplicity” might give it some legs, though I recognize the March release date doesn’t bode well. Perhaps just wishful thinking for two of my three favorite movies thus far this year, with “Up” being the third (I haven’t yet seen “The Hurt Locker”).

  • 2 6-23-2009 at 6:26 pm

    Marshall said...

    Thanks Jeremy…I love to see some “Duplicity” love; it was one of my favorites of the year.

  • 3 6-23-2009 at 7:29 pm

    Alex said...

    I enjoyed Duplicity. It was amusing but slightly vapid. Could get 4th or 5th spot on screenplay noms if 2009 is a weak year. Maybe Giamatti/Wilkinson for best supporting, but I doubt it.

  • 4 6-23-2009 at 7:38 pm

    PJ said...

    Although I think “The Dark Knight” and “WALL-E” had more critical acclaim/cultural impact than “Star Trek” and “Up” respectively, which are arguably points against the latter pair with regards to the Oscars.

  • 5 6-23-2009 at 7:54 pm

    Alex said...

    Star Trek has no chance.

    The Academy is full of old people who might respond to the themes of Up. WALL-E was slightly too unconventional to be fully embraced.

  • 6 6-23-2009 at 8:49 pm

    A.J said...

    Star Trek isn’t on par with The Dark Knight. Up will flourish because of that. WALL-E and The Dark Knight were two oscar-worthy blockbusters that ultimately cancelled each other out. This year it’s just Up. It’s about old people. It will make you cry. More than once. It has already outgrossed WALL-E. It premiered at Cannes. It has even more of a “pixar must be nominated at some point” push than WALL-E. I’d say it’s a serious contender.

  • 7 6-23-2009 at 10:25 pm

    Hans said...

    I’ll agree with you on that, A.J. Star Trek will make a good showing in the tech categories to be sure (off the bat I can think of at least 5 tech cats it could easily squeeze into) and MAYBE a screenplay nom. It might also be in the running for various Ensemble awards at year’s end as well.

    Up, however, seems to have a lot more going for it than WALL-E. What attracted people to the latter was just how….different it was, and ultimately its differentness kept it from cracking the BP list. But now, the question is, how keen is the Academy going to be on recognizing the growing zeitgeist that is 3-D technology?

  • 8 6-24-2009 at 2:53 am

    BurmaShave said...

    I liked DUPLICITY a lot, but can remember almost none of it, whereas oddly, THE INTERNATIONAL has stuck with me somewhat.

  • 9 6-24-2009 at 4:07 am

    Glenn said...

    “The Dark Knight” had not been released by this time last year, fwiw.

  • 10 6-24-2009 at 4:26 am

    John H. Foote said...

    Why panic? There have been years when the entire best picture list was domianted by late releases, in some cases, December only. It’ll be fine…there are some interesting films coming our way.

  • 11 6-24-2009 at 5:24 am

    j said...

    Metacritic (which isn’t perfect) gives:
    Trek 83-Knight 82. But Trek has no Heath Ledger.

    Up 88-Wall E 93. But Up is about an old person.

    Based on less than 10 reviews so far, Hurt Locker: 89, thus far tying it with Goodbye Solo for 09’s #1.

  • 12 6-24-2009 at 7:39 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Anything for Star Trek beyond technods is crazy. I really loved the film but it doesn’t deserve anything beyond that.

    Duplicity has voters feeling exactly that but I suppose it might be possible.

    Disgrace is the one film that stood out for me and is looking at a Best Actor/Actress nod and an adaptes screenplay nod.

  • 13 6-24-2009 at 1:55 pm

    Viv said...

    I am sorry that more people haven’t seen SIN NOMBRE, by Cary Fukunaga. It is a fantastic movie.

    I wonder if it would compete as a feature or as a foreing movie –the director is from the US but the movie is in Spanish…