OFF THE CARPET: Handicapping 2010 a year in advance

Posted by · 6:33 pm · March 8th, 2010

Hilary Swank in Betty Anne WatersUncle.

I told myself I wasn’t going to write this column this year, let alone make predictions, but some of you were just too cute in your emails and Twitter DMs asking for something akin to my annual year-in-advance take on the race, so I struck a balance: a column and contenders list, but no charts and no predictions.  Fair enough?

The 2010 Oscar season looks, from afar, to be a muted affair.  Most of the films that look like competitors on paper have a distinctly “small” vibe.  Of course, no one knows when a film like “The Blind Side” will decide to come along and sweep the heartland and the Academy at large off its feet.  Maybe Tony Goldwyn’s “Betty Anne Waters” will play that role this year.  Maybe not.

There are a considerable amount of actors and actresses with multiple performances on the way, more than usual, I’d say.  And most encouraging, the original screenplay field seems to be much more robust than the adaptations.

Last year the big dogs looked to be “Amelia,” “Invictus” and “Nine,” and we all know how that turned out.  In fact, it happens with some frequency.  So why bother getting too deep into all of this now?  And to say nothing of the fact that, perhaps mercifully, nothing on the horizon appears to have that level of awards-baiting appeal.  No major filmmakers looking to cozy up to Oscar.  No big stars that seem overdue and are going for it with an obvious role.  None of that, really.

Instead, the big contenders look to come from up-and-coming talent, or at least filmmakers that are much less established than most.  Anton Corbijn’s “The American,” for instance, or Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan.” The established guys are actually stepping out of the awards stuff and into genre, as evident with Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter,” Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” and Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood.” Then again, genre could be the trick (finally) if Christopher Nolan makes good on the monumental promise of “Inception.”

David Fincher will be back, but not exactly with standard awards fare.  Ditto Phillip Noyce.  You know, things like that.  Though Peter Weir and “The Way Back” could tap into a traditionalist vibe, while James L. Brooks will give it another shot with “How Do You Know?” (or whatever it’ll be called).

Sony Pictures Classics looks to have another healthy stable of contenders, as does Universal.  But things will ebb and flow until they begin to settle into a picture that makes better sense four or five months hence, so I’ll just stop there.  You can peruse the Contenders section to get a vibe on what I have in mind.  It’s not nearly as thorough as in years past and it’s not broken down into tiers, because I refuse.  But for now, that ought to be enough grist for the mill.

I won’t offer up predictions of any sort until post-Cannes at the earliest.  Until then, the sidebar will be a reminder of the 2009-2010 season.

So with that, consider these words my send-off to this season’s Oscar coverage and the beginning of a bit of a hiatus for me.  I need it, believe me.  Chad will be kicking off the Life Without Oscar feature tomorrow, while the box office columns will continue to run on Fridays and Sundays.  Guy will chime it at his leisure, as will I (eventually), but for now, I’m powering down.  Thanks for making it a lively and spirited season and, as always, for bringing a community component to In Contention that is truly irreplaceable.


→ 120 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Off the Carpet

120 responses so far

  • 1 3-11-2010 at 10:07 am

    Sam said...

    While I agree that Pinto so far hasn’t shown any reason to nominate her, she’s more of an unknown entity. I wouldn’t say for sure that she couldn’t be nominated. Even though I think Stewart and Fanning are good actresses, they don’t seem to have a award worthy role coming up. Portman’s just not that great of an actress and Kunis hasn’t really shown any reason to nominate her either.

  • 2 3-11-2010 at 12:17 pm

    TJK said...

    How to get people watching the Oscars 2011:

    Kirstin Stewart and Robert Pattinson

  • 3 3-11-2010 at 1:26 pm

    Charlie said...

    Thanks Kris, Guy and the rest of the gang for a wonderful oscar season.

    As a reminder until Cannes, maybe switch the sidebar images to images from the winning films? :D

  • 4 3-11-2010 at 1:51 pm

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    About Pinto, I agree her performance in Slumdog Millionaire was wooden, but I think her character hasn’t a lot of development. Latika is only the “Girl Interest”. And again, she’s working with Schnabel and Woody Allen last year (Actors’ directors) and working with excellent actors like Hiam Abbass, Naomi Watts, Willem Dafoe, Anthony Hopkins and others… so maybe she will surprise us.

    Remember Penelope Cruz and Diane Kruger. In 2005, many of us think these ladies are only beautiful and talentless European actresses and finally we’re wrong -In my case Diane Kruger-. Cruz won an Oscar and a Cannes prize and got three Oscar Nominations in only four years -Not many actors do that- and Kruger received raves for her performances in European Films like Joyeux Noël, Pour Elle and Copying B. and finally for “Inglorious Basterds”, which received a SAG and OFC Nominations.

    TJK, careful for your words. There are rumors about “Bel Ami”. Maybe I’m overeacting but this decade is curious and “strange” about Oscar contenders

  • 5 3-11-2010 at 2:07 pm

    TJK said...

    @Xavi Rodriguez: I didn’t mean to bash KS and RP.

    Isn’t “Bel Ami” slated for 2011?

  • 6 3-11-2010 at 4:19 pm

    ninja said...


    That`s a valid point about Krueger and Cruz. However, both actresses starred in movies that got a lot of visibility. Pinto`s biggest Oscar bet seems to be Schabel movie and maybe I`m wrong but are his movies really all that visible? I mean, I don`t expect Miral to be as seen as Bright Star, for example, and that movie got snubbed left and right. Also, isn`t Pinto playing Israeli or Palestinian in Miral? She looks nothing like either. Some actors can play different ethnicities and she might pass as a Latina but not like a Middle Easterner.

    Bel Ami better have Pattz show some wit, humor and charm because his menstrual cramps acting is getting old and nigh unwatchable.


    Why do you think that roles in Runaways aren`t award worthy? I would love to see Fanning finally get a nom but it seems like everyone here has bigger hopes for Ronan (again!). I guess it`s a personal bias but, IMO, a jailbait rock star based on a real person is baitier role than some teenage Russian on the run from Commies. Also, I expect Chloe Moretz to kick all child and teen actor`s collective asses in Kick Ass and Let Me In (if remake turns out as good as the original, things will get interesting since the original swept many awards abroad).

  • 7 3-11-2010 at 6:56 pm

    Will said...

    i’m suprised that How to Train Your Dragon isn’t listed

  • 8 3-11-2010 at 8:34 pm

    TJK said...

    Has anyone heard of Mark Romanek’s new movie “Never Let Me Go”.
    Care Mulligan, Keira Knightly, Sally Hawkins

    Now THAT looks like oscar bait!

  • 9 3-12-2010 at 7:05 am

    William said...

    I’m Predictinga nod for Mickey Rourke for Passion Play, the idea of Rourke playing a trumpet seems good enough for me, plus i think he’s got 4 films coming out this year. Who knows Megan Fox for a best actress nod? anyone?

  • 10 3-12-2010 at 1:13 pm

    boyan said...

    I have a very good feeling about London boulevard. I read some of the script and i have to say that i see a lot of potential.

  • 11 3-12-2010 at 3:20 pm

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    Pinto`s biggest Oscar bet seems to be Schabel movie and maybe I`m wrong but are his movies really all that visible? I mean, I don`t expect Miral to be as seen as Bright Star, for example, and that movie got snubbed left and right. Also, isn`t Pinto playing Israeli or Palestinian in Miral?

    Well, Julian Schnabel only made three movies and both are really succesful. Basquiat is a cult reference as a indie film of the 90s. Before Night Falls have raves and gave Javier Bardem’s first Oscar Nomination, which the lead role was fighted with Benicio Del Toro and Johnny Depp and finally The Diving Bell and the Butterfly have four Oscar Nominations including Best Director, working with European stars like Max Von Sydow and Mathieu Amalric have great success in Europe after Cannes and gave most of the Foreign Picture Prizes in the 2007-08 awards Season. So I think Schnabel is really visible for Acting respect.

    About “the Runaways” I’m checking the reviews after Sundance and they’re not exactly excellent after all. Most of the raves goes to Michael Shannon (Apparently he steals the show) and even the review of Variety seems too cold, saying Stewart and Fanning are only O.K. Right now the film has 75% in Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 6.4 and for three top reviews two are real pains.

  • 12 3-12-2010 at 3:43 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    ninja, do you not remember the movies BEFORE NIGHT FALLS and THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLy…. your comments seem to exist in some alternate universe where they did not exist.

  • 13 3-12-2010 at 9:48 pm

    ninja said...


    Never seen any of them. Seen DVDs for Diving Bell and for some reason thought Laura Linney was in it. Guess not.


    Perhaps lightning doesn`t strike four times? Not a fan of Pinto. She`s kinda douchy and dating Patel for publicity reasons. He`s so much better actor and person.

  • 14 3-13-2010 at 2:06 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    In one comment, Ninja, you manage to reveal yourself as both classless and wildly uninformed. Well done.

  • 15 3-13-2010 at 5:59 am

    ninja said...

    Sorry, Guy, but I can`t get over possible statutory rape that was going on on the Slumdog set. Patel was 17 and Pinto was 23. I`m not buying their romance starting after the production wrapped up. It was a safe moment to reveal it because he turned 18. But if adult men get crap over schtupping minor girls, adult women doing minor boys should too. Of course, I`ve no proof but this woman gives me creeps because possibility is there. Being crap actress doesn`t help the case either.

  • 16 3-13-2010 at 8:25 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    You really should stay away from the tabloids and the gossip columns, ninja, unless you want to be InContention’s resident Yenta.

  • 17 3-13-2010 at 1:36 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Thanks for the input and well-wishes, guys. Just a note to say I’ve added your suggestions and more to the Contenders list. I’ll dig in in a few month’s time and see where we’re at, right around Cannes, and try to get a gauge how these categories tier out.

    Back to vacation…

  • 18 3-13-2010 at 6:09 pm

    m1 said...

    59-Alice in Wonderland. That would make your list plausible.

  • 19 3-14-2010 at 6:34 pm

    Will said...

    What would be the odds of The Last Airbender getting a best picture nomination

  • 20 3-14-2010 at 6:38 pm

    Will said...

    Is The Last Airbender a best picture contender?