OFF THE CARPET: Macro/micro

Posted by · 11:25 am · December 20th, 2010

I decided to update the Contenders section this week by addressing things (mostly) as they seem to stand in the wake of the critics’ awards circuit of the last two weeks.  Save for this or that personal hunch (like buying into Guy’s shrewd proposition that the BAFTA contingent could help Lesley Manville over the hump, or keeping in mind, over all, that critics don’t vote for Oscars), I think it’s fairly representative.

I don’t have a lot to offer in the way of a column this week.  The race as it stands is how you see it.  There are pockets of advocacy growing louder and louder out there, but I’m waiting for guilds to chime in and for studios to decide if they are in it to win it (and it becomes clearer and clearer who is and who isn’t, by the way).

Ballots will go out a week from today.  Voters will have, presumably, spent the Thanksgiving and upcoming Christmas holidays digging into screeners and catching up on this or that.  The precursors have illuminated a few paths they may not have taken (precious few, though), but mainly they’ve demanded viewings of 11 films in play for 10 Best Picture slots.  What will the small screen do for these contenders?

The top three films in play — “The Social Network,” “The King’s Speech” and “The Fighter” — all play very well on television.  Others, like “The Kids Are All Right” and “The Town,” almost feel like they’re meant for the medium.

The large scale productions — “True Grit” and “Inception” — naturally suffer a bit when taken off that big canvas (the latter more than the former).  Though the Searchlight titles, “Black Swan” and “127 Hours” — Cinematic with a capital “C” — can strangely go either way.  (It’s worth pointing out, however, that there are a lot of voters refusing to watch the latter.)

And something like “Winter’s Bone” (my #11 currently) feels less vital on the small screen even if it feels like a natural fit for it, while “Toy Story 3” is a delightful watch no matter the screen.

Of course, these are all highly subjective perspectives on my part, but having given each film another look, it seemed a viewpoint worth offering.  What isn’t subjective is that this, for the most part, seems to be the field.  No film has broken through as a real Best Picture threat, as far as critics are concerned, anyway.  And nothing seems all that poised to make a case for itself like “The Blind Side” did around this time last year.

You can make cases.  “Blue Valentine” will be hitting theaters December 31 and with it will come the publicity buzz of a ratings appeal win.  I rarely (if ever) talk to people who dislike the movie and, indeed, I expect it to be near the top of a lot of ballots.  That could be something to watch for.  But I don’t think there are too many “meh”/lower ballot titles waiting to be knocked off.

“Another Year” plays perfectly well on a TV and that British vote could help it (though it will be preoccupied with “The King’s Speech”).  And I’ll just have to cross my fingers (without a lot of hope) that voters key in to the brilliance of “Shutter Island” and the accomplishment of “The Way Back,” but I’m pretty much resigned.

The passion votes: “Black Swan,” “The Social Network,” “The King’s Speech” and “The Fighter.” Number one votes all around.  I’m convinced those would represent four of a Best Picture five at this point.

And that’s how it breaks down.  The “surprise” of Oscar morning will be the film that fell out, just as it was last year when a generally agreed-upon 10 and an eleventh spoiler dominated the discussion going into the announcement.  The only difference is, the dust has settled a month early this year.  Last year we had January to bring things around to this point, so I can’t help but wonder what the month has in store for us this season.

Come on, January.  Wow us.  Please?

As mentioned, the Contenders section has been updated throughout, and the sidebar predictions reflect those changes.

[Photos: Fox Searchlight Pictures, The Weinstein Company]

→ 22 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Off the Carpet

22 responses so far

  • 1 12-20-2010 at 11:39 am

    Hans said...

    It’s worth repeating, but I still think you are way off base in thinking that Inception is nearly falling out of the Top 10. It’s had a much more robust run through the precursors than The Dark Knight ever did, and it’s certainly had a much more prominent presence than Kids Are All Right, True Grit, The Town, and even Toy Story 3.

    It is a shame at how everything seems to be wrapped up by this point when it really shouldn’t. I remember last year after the BFCA nominations you made a comment in which you said you wouldn’t be surprised if the ten there was the final line-up. Two films were eventually knocked, and looking at the lineup this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if we lost Winter’s Bone and 127 Hours in favor of Kids Are All Right and…who knows…Shutter Island? I see some parallels between Shutter Island and The Blind Side…lead performance by a thespian well-loved in the industry, critically dividing film that manages to make a solid showing at the box office, passionate supporters abound, who knows?

  • 2 12-20-2010 at 11:49 am

    Matthew Starr said...

    If the Academy can manage to nominated Manville and Reznor I will be pretty content.

    I would also love to see a directing field that included Nolan, Fincher, Aronofsky and the Coens. This would easily the be the greatest field of nominated directors as far as I can remember.

  • 3 12-20-2010 at 11:52 am

    Mike_M said...

    I also hope voters see the greatness of Shutter Island, it is well deserved. I finally re-watched it on Sat and man, it could have even better the 2nd time. You watch the film in a whole different way…

  • 4 12-20-2010 at 11:53 am

    BK said...

    Just because Inception isn’t in the “top 5” doesn’t mean it’s “falling out of the top 10.”

  • 5 12-20-2010 at 12:09 pm

    cineJAB said...

    Sadly I don’t see Duvall or Manville making it in. Duvall certainly would have gotten in last year, maybe Spacek and Murray could have too.
    At this point I see those two Lead spots being filled by the Blue Valentine couple. Now that I think of it, I think i’d fill each spot you’ve given to Another Year to Blue Valentine. One film has real buzz where the other doesn’t, and big names, and Weinstein.
    I am really happy to see your inclusion of Black Swan increasing across the board from week to week, I think those are spot on predictions.

  • 6 12-20-2010 at 12:11 pm

    Mitchell said...

    OT: Could anybody see the previously attached Brad Pitt or Matt Damon playing Dicky in The Fighter? I sure can’t.

  • 7 12-20-2010 at 12:14 pm

    j said...

    Williams hopefully gets in; if Manville gets the Brits, I’d like it to be maybe Kidman to be booted?
    Weaver may be out but I’d prefer for it to be Adams because I don’t like her.
    127 Hrs for both directing/editing at this point seems possibly bold.

  • 8 12-20-2010 at 12:19 pm

    Loyal said...

    I did a quick tally of the sidebar, Kris is still predicting 10 noms for Inception. That’s the most of all nominees I think.

  • 9 12-20-2010 at 12:29 pm

    Edwin Drood said...

    “I’m waiting for …studios to decide if they are in it to win it (and it becomes clearer and clearer who is and who isn’t, by the way).”

    Now THIS info would be most interesting. PLEASE enlighten us…

  • 10 12-20-2010 at 1:24 pm

    JJ1 said...

    I have to say, give or take a few, I agree with most of Kris’ potential noms.

    Also, if 2 films seem to be on the cusp of not making the 10, to me, they are ‘The Town’ (won’t have widespread tech love) and it missed the SAG ensemble nod. And 127 Hours. It appears weak right now.

    I still think/hope ‘Inception’ is in the 4-7 range.

  • 11 12-20-2010 at 1:37 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Kris, is there a ‘Tell Us What You Thought of The Fighter’ thread? If not, can we have one?

  • 12 12-20-2010 at 2:25 pm

    Graysmith said...

    The way I see it is that we have 11 films still in the running for Best Picture, barring some real surprise nominee a la Another Year or something. For my money, the last slot is between Winter’s Bone and The Town, although both could get in at the expense of shock snub for 127 Hours.

    It’ll definitely get interesting to see how things start to pan out once the guilds start having a say in it, the PGA and DGA in particular.

  • 13 12-20-2010 at 2:35 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    the fact that black swan is looking so strong makes me so happy, so happy. I love Aronofsky and its good to see the tides a changing

  • 14 12-20-2010 at 2:37 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    and why the sudden massive comeback of 127 hours?

  • 15 12-20-2010 at 3:50 pm

    daveylow said...

    I really don’t understand why voters don’t want to watch 127 Hours since it features a major performance from James Franco.

  • 16 12-20-2010 at 4:05 pm

    Maxim said...

    Watch out for the Ghost Writer.

  • 17 12-20-2010 at 4:34 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Maxim, good call. I know it’s no ‘In Bruges’, but I do have some subtle ‘Ghost Writer’ vibes.

  • 18 12-20-2010 at 5:13 pm

    Cordy said...

    I think of the 11 right now, 127 hrs is the weakest. I know it’s technically not, but that is where it seems to be headed. I think one of these late year films (Another Year and Blue Valentine basically) could get in and bump The Town out. And I think Winter’s Bone is the safest of the 3 on the cusp, even if it may be just because I think that will get John Hawkes in.

  • 19 12-20-2010 at 5:19 pm

    Cordy said...

    Also, does anyone else feel like Original Screenplay is the most up for grabs above-the-line category? It seems like Kids, King’s, and Inception all have a shot (even though I cringe at the thought of actual filmmakers voting for Inception for writing). I even think Black Swan could have a chance there if the other guilds show it as much love as SAG

  • 20 12-21-2010 at 6:42 am

    JJ1 said...

    Yeah, original screenplay is interesting:

    Inception, The King’s Speech, Another Year, Black Swan, The Fighter, Blue Valentine, The Kids are All Right.

    7 strong. And several BP contenders may not even make the 5 original screenplays.

  • 21 12-23-2010 at 11:38 am

    James C said...

    Shutter Island for editing now, huh? I could possibly see that. I sure hope Shutter Island gets in for art direction. Just got it on dvd. Great film.

  • 22 12-23-2010 at 10:20 pm

    Jacob S. said...

    I think “Somewhere” will beat out “Shutter Island” for a Cinematography nom. Most reviews I’ve read have pointed out how great it is and, like Gerard said in his Tech Support pieces, the Cinematography branch often embraces films ignored elsewhere. Also, I don’t think The Academy would ignore the Golden Lion winner *totally*, will they? Especially since it’s an English-language film and since it’s Coppola.