Hurry, only 319 days until…

Posted by · 9:29 am · April 14th, 2010

We have less than a month left until Cannes likely triggers the first mass Oscar chatter of the year. (More so if Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” is included in tomorrow’s Official Selection announcement.) These are precious days, then … enjoy them while they last.

Of course, if my “precious” is your “miserable,” and you’ve spent the last five weeks suffering Oscar-talk withdrawal, the indefatigable Nathaniel Rogers over at The Film Experience has your fix. You’ll remember that Kris decided against doing year-in-advance nomination predictions this year, which makes this very thorough Oscar forecast the first of its kind I’ve seen this year.

Needless to say, a hefty pinch of salt is required at this foetal stage in the competition — Nathaniel himself headlines his predictions with the caveat “for fun and discussion.” Still, his lists raise some interesting possibilities: most notably, a Best Picture slate with a very different populist-specialist balance to last year’s ten.

With so many slots to play with, “Inception” is understandably in the mix, though I sense it could be something of an all-or-nothing proposition. But Rogers fills out his projected 10 with a number of smaller titles heavy on writing and performance potential, including Mike Leigh’s “Another Year,” Lisa Cholodenko’s “The Kids Are All Right” and John Cameron Mitchell’s “Rabbit Hole.” (He also places much stock in The Weinstein Company’s royalty biopic “The King’s Speech,” which reeks of “Last Station”-style mustiness to me.)

Judging completely blindly, of course, this strikes me as wise. After last year’s unusually public-friendly Best Picture slate, with its double-shot of sci-fi and concessions to animation and heartland schmaltz, I sense many pundits might be overly keen to pinpoint this year’s “Avatar” or this year’s “The Blind Side.”

They shouldn’t. Contrary to popular belief, the Academy doesn’t vote with “slots” in mind — they choose from whatever critical and/or popular hits are thrown up in a given year. Last year presented an unusual amount of critically approved blockbusters, neatly dovetailing with an equally unexpected number of baity December misfires. Voters know, as do we, that an “Avatar”-style phenomenon doesn’t happen every year; as such, they might well be content to slide back into their comfort zone of high-minded prestige bait.

Anyway, that’s as much as I want to think about the Oscars for a good long while. Enjoy Nathaniel’s projections here … just take them in the right spirit.

→ 33 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

33 responses so far

  • 1 4-14-2010 at 9:44 am

    Suzanne said...

    Hefty pinch of salt, indeed. But really, part of the fun is seeing the ones with the most emphatic hype fail miserably (Nine, anyone?).

  • 2 4-14-2010 at 9:54 am

    AmericanRequiem said...

    ahh oscar predictions, let the year begin

  • 3 4-14-2010 at 10:06 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    I must say, I’m just as surprised about Nathaniel’s faith in The King’s Speech as you are. Since when did the story of someone getting over a speech impediment compelling cinema?

    Personally, I think The Way Back is the big one to watch for, and I will go on record to predict that Bill Murray – barring some sort of explosive out-of-nowhere performance – has already won the Best Supporting Actor award.

  • 4 4-14-2010 at 10:52 am

    Matthew Starr said...

    He left off True Grit which will very likely be one of the ten. The Coens are in the zone right now.

  • 5 4-14-2010 at 11:16 am

    Jim T said...

    He DID predict True Grit for adapted screenplay.

    Someone wants badly Kidman to get back on the game but tries not to jinx it ;)

  • 6 4-14-2010 at 11:16 am

    Cloy said...

    Hmm….what will be this year’s Nine/Amelia/Lovely Bones?

    I’m gonna go with Tree of Life.

  • 7 4-14-2010 at 11:21 am

    Fitz said...

    I hope Aronofsky and Nolan are recognized this year. I mean goddamn: Memento, Requiem for a Dream, The Prestige, The Fountain, The Dark Knight, The Wrestler and no nominations at all?

  • 8 4-14-2010 at 11:47 am

    Al said...

    Tree of Life, Inception, True Grit, The Way Back.

    All for best picture. It just seems obvious, then again this time last year I thought it would be a battle between Nine and Lovely Bones, so who knows.

  • 9 4-14-2010 at 11:54 am

    BurmaShave said...

    KING’S SPEECH seems very BAFTA, I honestly don’t know if the history is familiar enough to Americans for it to cross over. Of course you could say the same thing about THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE, but the stakes in that were much higher. Still, seems like major Colin Firth Oscar-bait, especially since he was probably the runner-up this year.

  • 10 4-14-2010 at 12:48 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    If I were to make a list of 10 Best Picture predictions right now, “The King’s Speech” would probably be on it.

  • 11 4-14-2010 at 1:11 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    There was a test screening of The King’s Speech this past Sunday in NYC that I was too lazy to attend.

    I have not been able to find any reactions either.

  • 12 4-14-2010 at 3:05 pm

    Lev Lewis said...

    Cloy: You’re comparing Malick to Rob Marshall and Mira Nair? Really?

  • 13 4-14-2010 at 3:22 pm

    Andrew F said...

    My super-early bet is that Bening finally wins Best Actress for “The Kids Are Alright”. Ta-dah!

  • 14 4-14-2010 at 3:36 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Lev: Well, to be perfectly honest, Rob Marshall has had much, much, much more success with the awards season than Malick. The point Cloy is making, however, is that there is sure to be a film that everyone EXPECTS to get in but is sure to miss the mark, and The Tree of Life (or Inception, for that matter) is hardly a questionable call in that light.

  • 15 4-14-2010 at 4:32 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    Tapley, re: KING”S SPEECH, why? Honestly just curious, you probably know something we don’t. Seems a bit TV, and not just because Tom Hooper is directing. I’d love to be wrong, fan of all the players involved.

  • 16 4-14-2010 at 4:45 pm

    Jim T said...

    For what it’s worth, a person in tweeter said KING’S SPEECH is great and very baity.

  • 17 4-14-2010 at 5:09 pm

    LordBigsley said...

    I don’t think anyone is comparing Malick to Marshall. But every single year, without fail, there’s always some project that people think is going to be amazing and wonderful and win everything, and then inevitably ends up sucking.

    I can very easily see “Tree of Life” turning out like this.

  • 18 4-14-2010 at 6:00 pm

    ninja said...

    @Cloy “Hmm….what will be this year’s Nine/Amelia/Lovely Bones?

    I’m gonna go with Tree of Life.”

    Good pick. I`m going with The Way Back. Nobody is going to watch this and since it`s about Russian Commies on the run from Siberia, it won`t have timeliness that AMPAS favors when they award their personal flavors of the moment. Plus it has Irish actors playing Russians. if they attempt Russian accent, lolololol,hahahahahahha, muahahahahaha.

    Also Black Swan. Not exactly a disaster of Nine/Amelia/Lovely Bones proportions cause I expect it to be a great and commercially successful genre movie that won`t fly with AMPAS though.

  • 19 4-14-2010 at 6:29 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    The Academy has absolutely no respect for Darren Arofonsky. If they have not given love to his last three films then I am not sure what he has to do to get recognition.

  • 20 4-14-2010 at 6:55 pm

    Brady said...

    I might give The Tempest a stronger look. It has an awesome cast and I also really trust Julie Taymor, at least for what she’s done on Broadway. I’m also super excited for The Tree of Life and The Kids are All Right. Bening for the win!

  • 21 4-14-2010 at 7:33 pm

    The Irishman said...

    Dying to see “The Fighter” though I am, I share Nathaniel’s hesitancy to put Mark Wahlberg in the front ranks, simply because I defer to’s explanation of why Russell Crowe didn’t get nominated: “Crowe forgot that to get your biopic performance lauded as ingenious, you have to pretend to be someone the Academy has heard associated with the word genius, or at the very least someone they’ve heard of in the first place. Braddock was a blue collar boxer and a family man. Hell, the guy didn’t even have a heroin problem. Crowe might as well have been playing Gandhi.”
    (On a related note, movies called “The [Something]er” are apparently the new “American [Noun]”.)

  • 22 4-14-2010 at 10:39 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Burma: Don’t really know anything. To my eye it just looks like the best option from TWC’s stable.

    Irishman: Crowe didn’t get nominated for Cinderella Man because of the telephone affair.

  • 23 4-15-2010 at 4:47 am

    The Irishman said...

    Jesus, I’m getting old. I’d completely forgotten that was the same year.

  • 24 4-15-2010 at 5:54 am

    Glenn said...

    I’ve heard “industry” people have seen bits of “The King’s Speech” and saying it’s a slam dunk for Colin Firth if nothing else, but that it does actually seem quite good.

  • 25 4-15-2010 at 1:59 pm

    Fitz said...

    Is it because The King’s Speech is that deserving or the Academy feels the need to reward Firth for not winning?

  • 26 4-15-2010 at 3:23 pm

    Lev Lewis said...

    Kris: That’s partially my point.

    I don’t question the comparison only in terms of quality (although it goes without saying that Malick is on a different plain of filmmaking than the directors mentioned); seeing as his films rarely get further than a cinematography nod (“Thin Red Line” excepted) it’s silly to hold “Tree of Life” as a frontrunner, and I don’t even think people are. Malick doesn’t make Oscary films, and there’s no reason to assume his latest will be an exception.

    I see something like “The Way Back” or “True Grit” filling the doomed frontrunner status (although of course the Coen’s don’t exactly make Oscary films either).

  • 27 4-15-2010 at 5:04 pm

    Frank Lee said...

    The link didn’t mention the documentary category (for very good reasons, I’m sure), but Shane Salerno’s “Salinger” documentary seems like it will be a fairly high profile (if apolitical) documentary film.

  • 28 4-16-2010 at 1:55 pm

    JR said...

    Hooper is not a lesser director, simply because he’s worked mostly in TV. His diverse work for the small screen – Prime Suspect, Elizabeth I, Longford, John Adams – is not to be sniffed at. The Damned United was a lovely, rather unexpected film – one of the better of last year.

    I’d even go so far to say that many fine directors would stumble working in TV conditions. Hooper, on the other hand, has soared.

  • 29 4-16-2010 at 3:52 pm

    Sam said...

    I think Black Swan is going to tank. I love Aronofsky for the most part, but every time Natalie Portman is coming out with a movie in which she has a lead role, expectations are high and then her performance tends not to be very good with the result of sinking the movie critically (and generally commercially). I think it’s time to recognize she’s limited as an actress.

  • 30 4-16-2010 at 7:56 pm

    Melissa said...

    I’m guessing Inception will most likely disappoint. Everyone and their Granny is predicting it to be a big player. Honestly it looks like an average summer blockbuster.

  • 31 4-17-2010 at 5:25 pm

    carlo said...

    Rabbit Hole feels more like a NYFF showing or American Film Festival a la Doubt.

  • 32 4-19-2010 at 11:49 am

    Red said...

    I made some predictions on most of the categories about a month ago. I left off both Inception and Tree of Life, with the first one reminding me too much of Public Enemies and the latter reminding me of a mix between Assassination of Jesse James and The Fountain.

    Though, one of my predited ten has all but been eliminated. I thought maybe Greenberg could sneak it’s way in, but even a Baumbach fan like me had to give the movie a D rating.

  • 33 4-19-2010 at 11:50 am

    Red said...

    Oh, and even though I left True Grit off my initial list, I am beginning to think that it might actually be the favorite to win.