Karger goes out on a limb for ‘The Messenger’

Posted by · 9:52 am · December 31st, 2009

Woody Harrelson in The MessengerIn the last week or two, the buzz for Rob Marshall’s “Nine” has, undeniably, plummeted.  It took a while for it to get to that point.  The first screening was held nearly a month and a half ago in New York, after all.  But enough goodwill and a certain lazy expectation that the below-the-line elements would pull the film across (guilty) kept it in the Best Picture mix.

No longer.  The chips are finally hitting the table and the writing on the wall seems to indicate that the film will join “The Lovely Bones” as one of the biggest awards casualties of the season.  But which film will replace it in the line-up?  That has been the point of discussion (and will again for Anne and I in tomorrow’s Oscar Talk).  And Dave Karger has placed his bet on Oren Moverman’s wonderful war drama “The Messenger.”

If this happens — and that’s a big “if” — then, in my view, it will be a validation of what a switch to 10 Best Picture nominees could (and should) be.  But films like “The Messenger” don’t exactly bring up ratings numbers, so I’m sure AMPAS brass would rather something like “Star Trek” or “District 9” capitalize on “Nine”‘s misfortune.  Still, this is an amazing little film that deserves this kind of serious acclaim and status.

Of the film’s prospects, Karger writes:

…since it’s the No. 1 and No. 2 votes on the Academy’s ranked ballots that truly count, a film with a smaller cult of enthusiastic followers—think District 9 or, more likely, The Messenger—is poised to become a spoiler.

Karger doesn’t just set aside a place for the film in his Best Picture predictions, but along with the expected Woody Harrelson expectation in the Best Supporting Actor category, he goes out on a limb and predicts Samantha Morton to show up in the supporting actress field.  Okay, maybe it’s not such a limb, but then again, it kind of is since he has her doing so at the expense of all of “Nine”‘s supporting ladies.  Ouch.

Yes, Karger is chalking the movie musical up for below-the-line attention only, and he’s probably right.

For all the Moverman love, he doesn’t save a place for the film in the original screenplay category.  Pity.  It would be such a more inspired nomination that the horrid “(500) Days of Summer,” but, alas, Fox Searchlight has built a handsome, focused campaign around that film.  It’s up to the writers now.

Karger’s adapted screenplay prediction matches my own list 5/5, as does his lead actress field.  But he’s plumping for Matt Damon’s sleep-walk turn in “Invictus” and a Lee Daniels snub in Best Director otherwise.

Read the rest of Karger’s predictions, with commentary, at Entertainment Weekly.

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61 responses so far

  • 1 1-01-2010 at 4:38 am

    JJ said...

    I think Supporting Actress is one of the more exciting categories this year as far as WHO gets nominated, and IF Mo’Nique can grab the win. I don’t think she has the certainty that Bardem & Ledger have recently experienced. I just don’t.

  • 2 1-01-2010 at 6:41 am

    Erik 815 said...

    @ Speaking English: yeah, thats what I meant. Not to discredit her performance, I rather think that, like in those other examples, the main focus is on the star, but the supporting role matches it, and gets in, albeit a bit below the radar.

    @JJ: betting against Kendrick at this point isn’t smart. Moore is a fave, but could be one of those actresses like Glenn Close, who get a lot of nominations in a few years, then never get nominated again (her last was 7 years ago i think). Cotillard isnt a fave yet with 1 nom/win, and Morton barely anymore with her surprise 2nd nod for In America (i should shy away from saying “it was a weak year for best actresses”)

  • 3 1-01-2010 at 6:52 am

    JJ said...

    Erik 815, true. I’m not exactly betting against Kendrick. I think she’ll prob be in. But she’s 8th on my list of a very strong 10. And I wouldn’t mind others slipping in.

  • 4 1-01-2010 at 7:02 am

    Erik 815 said...

    ok, cool. And I just read the Sigourney Weaver is hosting SNL next week. Really?!? You think they’re gonna push her, because I dont think at this point it’ll make any difference for the film anymore.

    Im keeping my fingers crossed that they campaign her, and the academy decides instead to retroactively nominate her for the Ice Storm. What? It could happen… right?

  • 5 1-01-2010 at 8:25 am

    Hero said...

    I was rather interested to see Karger predicting a Lee Daniels snub, since I’ve been debating the same thing with my own predictions.

  • 6 1-01-2010 at 8:29 am

    JJ said...

    Yeah, I don’t think Lee Daniels is getting in since Precious’ buzz has slowed. We’ll see.

  • 7 1-01-2010 at 9:53 am

    Bia said...

    I could see A Single Man getting in over Nine or The Messenger.

  • 8 1-01-2010 at 10:52 am

    JJ said...

    Bia, I hope. I just wonder if it’s too small for the Big 10.

  • 9 1-01-2010 at 10:54 am

    JJ said...

    In a perfect world (for me, at least), A SINGLE MAN would be up for consideration in pic, dir, actor, supp. actress, screenplay, edting, cinematography, art d, costume, & score.

  • 10 1-01-2010 at 3:38 pm

    Aaron said...

    If Nine does get axed from the best picture lineup, I just really hope they don’t forget about Marion Cotillard.

    Perfect example of an outstanding performance in a mediocre film. I love Penelope Cruz in the film, but would be more than happy to see Cotillard take her place in supporting actress. Maybe she will be the reward for the film?

    And in regards to The Messenger, I think District 9 and Star Trek are the more likely best picture spoilers.

    On the other hand, I have a feeling there could be a couple of surprises in best picture this year.