OSCAR TALK: Ep. 58 — Wrapping up the summer, fall festival preview, ‘Warrior’ and ‘50/50’

Posted by · 10:00 am · August 26th, 2011

Oscar TalkWelcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you’re new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar’s stage and we’re here to address it all as it unfolds.

After months of sporadic special edition updates, we’re back to the weekly grind today. So check back here every Friday from here on out for our musings on the Oscar season, which is right around the corner with the start of the fall festival circuit. We go on for quite a while today. Let’s jump in and see what’s on the docket…

Starting off today we take stock of the summer movie season, which is pretty much wrapped up now. What films come out of that frame with a legitimate angle on the Oscar conversation?

Starting next week, the Venice Film Festival kicks off the fall festival season, with Telluride not far behind and Toronto kicking in a few days later. We spend plenty of time chewing on and mulling over the various players that will pop up in the next few weeks.

Releasing shortly are two films we thought deserved some discussing in the Oscar context. One of them (Jonathan Levine’s “50/50”) we agree on. The other (Gavin O’Connor’s “Warrior”) we don’t.

Finally, we wrap things up with a handful of reader questions, ranging from the Academy’s tapping Brett Ratner for the Oscarcast producing gig to Jessica Chastain’s best Oscar chances in a busy year for the actress.

Have a listen to the new (LONG) podcast below, with the trailer for “Warrior” leading the way. If the file cuts off for you at any time, try the back-up download link at the bottom of this post. And as always, remember to subscribe to Oscar Talk via iTunes here.


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93 responses so far

  • 1 8-27-2011 at 2:27 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...


  • 2 8-27-2011 at 2:33 pm

    JJ1 said...

    okey doke

  • 3 8-27-2011 at 3:20 pm

    daveylow said...

    I just handed in my film choices for TIFF and Carnage and Tinker Tailor are not playing there.

    One of my choices is 50/50. Glad to hear the positive comments.

    I decided not to see The Ides of March because I wanted to see Trishna, directed by Michael Winterbottom. I hope I don’t regret it. But I’m a fan of Winterbottom and Ides will be playing everywhere.

    I’ll be seeing The Lady, The Artist and The Descendants. I’m excited about Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis.

    Take This Waltz and Dangerous Method are Galas at Toronto BTW. Hope to be seeing both as well as Shame and The Deep Blue Sea.

    I’m seeing some of the high profile films but also some films that aren’t Oscar contenders that supposed to be worthwhile–Oslo August 31, Bonsai, Rampart, Twixt, Elena, Love and Other Bruises, Woman in the Fifth.

    So many choices, not possible to see them all. I can’t fit 360 in my schedule and would love to see it.

    In regards to Martha Marcy and Like Crazy–wasn’t The Education an example of a small movie that played well with the Academy?

  • 4 8-27-2011 at 3:23 pm

    Anne Thompson said...

    Have you guys actually seen Martha Marcy May Marlene or Like Crazy? They were among the best films at Sundance, and both are terrific small-scale dramas that boast strong performances. They are must-sees and will get strong reviews. But neither is as well-written, directed and acted as Winter’s Bone, which crossed over beyond the art-house crowd. While they may do some limited indie business, MMMM is a tough haunting little piece, and Like Crazy is a hand-held improvised romance. Both will be real long shots for Elizabeth Olsen or Felicity Jones to land best actress nods. A lot will have to go right for these films–on the order of Half Nelson, where Gosling broke into a weak best actor field. That’s the only way. Neither of those films will be up for writing, directing, editing, or best picture. And that’s not to take away from their considerable achievements. I liked them both a lot.

  • 5 8-27-2011 at 3:33 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “neither is as well-written, directed and acted as Winter’s Bone”

    Annnncckkk! Wrong. At least in my opinion. Martha Marcy May Marlene blows Winter’s Bone’s faux-southern nonsense right out of the water.

  • 6 8-27-2011 at 3:34 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Thank you for that thorough comment/response, Anne. :)

  • 7 8-27-2011 at 3:56 pm

    JJ1 said...

    I thought that ‘Winter’s Bone’ had some major strengths, but was quite overrated, overall.

    Some of the lesser roles rang false, and aside from the superb, and eye-opening first 30-40 minutes, nothing really happened plotwise to invest me or pull me into the story for the rest of it’s running time.

  • 8 8-27-2011 at 4:03 pm

    ePastorJames said...

    An Education isn’t quite as similar to MMMM or LC. AE had a lighter tone, whereas the MMMM is gritty. That’s why I draw comparisons to the Sundance-to-Oscar successes of the past three years: the aforementioned Frozen River, Precious, Winter’s Bone. And that’s also why I have more faith, based on its reception and the Academy’s tendencies, in MMMM than LC.

    Anne, you shouldn’t discount at least MMMM in Original Screenplay. The amount of plausible contenders is pretty limited. Remember in 2008, Vicky Cristina Barcelona was snubbed in favor of FR and In Bruges. If the writers’ branch respects it and is impressed, which they most likely will be, it’s a good contender. For the win? Of course not. For a nod? Surely.

    And another aspect not to take for granted is the power of the screener push. Being a smaller, indie film, the team behind it certainly are aware of the lengths it would take. Junebug sent them out early, assisting Amy Adams tremendously.

    Every year, some people consistently seem to doubt the power of the alpha (fe)male of the annual Sundance indie smash. Well, with the exception of Precious, which booked a spot early on. But I keep the faith. The gritty Sundance champion is as much of a token nominee in various main categories as the good Pixar films are in OS. And on that note, since Cars 2 is likely going to be the first year without a Pixar screenplay nod since, well, Cars 1, that opens up OS even more to allow one indie in.

  • 9 8-27-2011 at 5:57 pm

    DylanS said...

    Kris: I’m glad I’m not the only one who got that vibe from “Winter’s Bone”.

  • 10 8-27-2011 at 6:36 pm

    The Great Dane said...

    Sorry to repeat myself, but I’m interested in other people’s opinion about this, and since no one answered I’ll try again, fingers crossed :)

    About Midnight in Paris being a “sure thing”:
    In a year of 10, sure. But since we are talking the 5% deal, is it REALLY that locked down that 250 people will put MIDNIGHT IN PARIS as the #1 movie of the year? It really seems like a solid Top 5, but not a Top 1. Or am I crazy?
    I just can’t imagine in 4-5 months time that it will remain the number one choice of so many Academy members.

  • 11 8-27-2011 at 6:48 pm

    ePastorJames said...

    Nah, I don’t think you’re crazy. :-P It’s a perfectly legitimate skepticism. I would say it’s certainly among the top 10-15 contenders vying for a slot, but it would not make the cut in a year of 5. It is the return of Woody, on the other hand. But I do think it will ultimately be outweighed. As has been said, it’s smart to predict for 10, but knowing how many of those 5-10 will be recognized is the true challenge at hand here.

  • 12 8-27-2011 at 7:21 pm

    JJ1 said...

    But that’s my hesitation with this entire 5% deal. To me, I barely see 5 films making that up.

    I mean, for the last 2 years (and the ranking 1-10 with various rounds) … I understand how they came to 10.

    But for this new system? The whole thing feels weird. In theory, I like that anywhere from 5-10 could happen. But if you think about it, which films from the past few years do you think had passion votes (or wheeling & dealing) for an automatic 5%’s ???

    Last year, I’d say The King’s Speech, The Social Network, & The Fighter, for sure. And I think that Black Swan, Inception, & TS3 may have also had 5% or more. But that’s only 3-6 films.

    The year before, I’d say The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, & Up. Maybe Up in the Air. That’s 5-6.

    I just think that 250 passion votes (#1’s on ballots) seems like a lot to ask for. But maybe my line of thinking is completely off. God knows how AMPAS operates come time for balloting.

    So The Great Dane, I don’t think you’re nuts, either. I could see MiP happening. But I’m hesitant, as well.

  • 13 8-27-2011 at 11:32 pm

    red_wine said...

    This much is certain, MMMM & Like Crazy will almost certainly will not have critical acclaim on the scale of Winter’s Bone.

    Winter’s Bone was MASSIVELY acclaimed. It was right behind TSN and Carlos as the major critics cause of the year. If these 2 movies were not there, it would have swept the critics with many Best Picture wins.

    So yeah, I don’t see MMMM & Like Crazy being as big with the critics as Winter’s Bone.

  • 14 8-28-2011 at 7:01 am

    Observation said...

    Really enjoyed this podcast, but was taken aback by Anne saying stuff like “well, you’re from the South” re: the Help and asking if Kris hadn’t see Jane Eyre because he’s a male.

  • 15 8-28-2011 at 8:51 am

    m1 said...

    What’s that song at the end?

  • 16 8-28-2011 at 9:02 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Soundgarden, “Fell on Black Days”

  • 17 8-28-2011 at 10:23 am

    bokata said...

    The rise of the planet of the apes is kinda overrated.
    Jane Eyre is something else. Mia, Judy and Michael Fassbender gave amazing performances.
    Win win was very good too.

  • 18 8-28-2011 at 2:32 pm

    daveylow said...

    I wasn’t as crazy about Win Win as Anne was. The screenplay was very predictable unlike McCarthy’s previous efforts.

  • 19 8-28-2011 at 3:31 pm

    m1 said...

    I honestly don’t get the “overrated” talk for Winter’s Bone, but anyway…

    Paramount and Fox Searchlight are fairly large studios. I feel confident that Like Crazy and Martha Marcy May Marlene will get attention if they play their cards right.

  • 20 8-28-2011 at 3:33 pm

    Brett Buckalew said...


    If you read between the lines in a very carefully-worded, absolutely non-embargo-breaking tweet battle between Kris and David Poland, it’s fair to surmise that Poland is a huge fan of “Contagion” and Kris is decidedly not. I’m not saying this to be a dick and get the two combatants in trouble (I’ll emphasize again: Kris and Poland did not penetrate the embargo in any way, shape, or form), but because, like you, I feed on the screening buzz behind awesome-seeming fall movies like it’s candy, and I thought you’d like to know what the screening buzz is in this case.

    A trusted friend of mine saw “Contagion” at a WGA screening and really liked it. If you really study the tone and compositions of the trailers & TV spots, it’s clear to me the film will be a cold, dry, clinical, authority-criticizing tract typical of Soderbergh instead of the “The Town”-esque WB fall adult commercial play that the studio wants to fool ticket buyers into thinking it is (and which Kris seemed to be expecting it to be when he entered the screening room). So it’ll be closer to “The Informant!” than “Outbreak,” which is fine with me, since I vastly prefer the former to the lazily workmanlike latter.

    My friend said that Gwyneth, despite her, ahem, evidently limited screentime, is a standout, which surprised him, but then, he doesn’t watch “Glee,” which I feel actually contains her best work since “Shakespeare in Love.”


  • 21 8-28-2011 at 3:45 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Brett, well that was pretty great right there, thank you. :)

    When I asked Kris if he could drop a subtle/cryptic hint or clue on his opinion of ‘Contagion’. His brief, and very unlike Kris response was “No”.

    That means he either can’t say anything, OR, he didn’t care for it. I don’t/won’t dig deeper.

    Your “but because, like you, I feed on the screening buzz behind awesome-seeming fall movies like it’s candy, and I thought you’d like to know what the screening buzz is in this case.” —- is awesome. Thank you for that, too. haha

    On Gwyneth, I’ve actually only ever liked her in ‘Shakespeare in Love’, ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’, ‘Proof’, and ‘Glee’.

    Thanks again on your take.

  • 22 8-28-2011 at 4:48 pm

    Brett Buckalew said...


    Glad to help! :)

    Mostly agree on the Paltrow list, but personally, I would also add “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “Hard Eight.” And I think most of her weaker performances are in movies that would suck with or wihout her presence (i.e. “A Perfect Murder”).

  • 23 8-28-2011 at 4:58 pm

    Evan said...

    Anne, I agree about “Moneyball.” After “The Tree of Life” and “The Artist,” it’s my favorite trailer of the year. I could easily be let down, but it has piqued my interest.

    On the other hand, I was not taken by the trailer for “The Ides of March”– the movie seems so unoriginal. Also, as much as I love Ryan Gosling, he’s not believable to me as a political operative. He’s just too laid back as a person and it shines through in his acting and showed in that trailer in my opinion. But we’ll see…

  • 24 8-28-2011 at 5:22 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...


    My response to David was all about his comment in the wake of Warrior, less about what I think of this particular film.

    Don’t hurt yourselves, guys.

  • 25 8-28-2011 at 6:15 pm

    Brett Buckalew said...


    Sigh. I actually thought I’d look like an asshole if I specified the tweet in question, but now that I’ve angered a respected colleague, I have to revert to damage-control mode. Your tweet to Poland was this:

    Don’t go overstating another film

    And there was the hashtag #warriorredux. So inarguably there is a second particular film BESIDES “Warrior” that you feel Poland is overstating. Combined with one of Poland’s followers guessing “Contagion” as the film he loved, and the knowledge that “Contagion” screened for some press early in the week, I figured that was why it’s “fair to surmise” (I choose my words very precisely) that you were less of a fan of “Contagion” than Poland.

    I felt I bent over backward in explaining that I had no malicious intent and didn’t want to upset you, but obviously I did a craptacular job of that. Please accept my sincere apology and keep up the good work.


  • 26 8-28-2011 at 8:06 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    It’s possible to think someone is overstating something and yet not harbor any personal negative feelings toward the thing in question.

    You read too much into it. The point being made was that Poland has a tendency to foam at the mouth regarding perfectly fine films he loves, setting an unreasonably high expectation.

    Simple as that.

    And yet now I’ve gone and inadvertently called something “perfectly fine” when I’d prefer to save my feelings for a more in-depth consideration.

    You didn’t anger me. Just went a bit too far based on very little info. I’m flattered to have my Tweets parsed, regardless.

  • 27 8-28-2011 at 8:55 pm

    Brett Buckalew said...


    Gotcha. Please let the record show, though, that I never said “Kris has negative feelings toward ‘Contagion,'” or anything remotely to that effect. What I specifically said was it seemed you were “decidedly not” a “huge fan” of it, which is apparently accurate.


  • 28 8-28-2011 at 9:31 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Stop the presses.

  • 29 8-28-2011 at 10:10 pm

    Brett Buckalew said...


    I’ve hardly said anything to warrant that snarky a response.

    You write for a site that caters to geek obsessives who get excited about forthcoming projects from their favorite directors. I’m one of them. And since I’m a freelancer who’s not on many screening lists and not covering any of the fall fests, I have much more in common with them in terms of access than I do with you. So, like them, I become geekily obsessive over advanced buzz on highly anticipated movies. JJ1 inquired about a piece of buzz that you were in no position to share with him, so since I’m uencumbered by embargo-related restraints, I thought I’d share it with him. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s par for the course for this kind of site, and if the positions were switched, I’d want JJ1 to do the same for me.

    I made a logical inference that you weren’t as in love with “Contagion” as David Poland, and I turned out to be right. No big deal. It doesn’t reflect positively on me just as surely as it doesn’t reflect negatively on you. It’s just geek gossip at the end of the day.

    The possibility that you liked but didn’t love “Contagion” was still there in what I wrote. I didn’t say, “there is a chance that he could still admire the movie but just not adore it,” because I get the impression that no one here is so stupid they need to be reminded of that. I mean, regular readers know from your “Warrior” review that you didn’t *hate* that movie or anything, so why would they automatically assume from what I wrote that you would hate the movie your tweet compared it to?

    Like I say, I choose my words very precisely. If you accuse me of “reading too much into” something and yet are unable to cite where specifically I was guilty of that, I have the right to use my words to defend myself. There’s absolutely no hostility inherent in me doing so.

    One inference I abstained from making because it’s less rational than saying “I think Kris isn’t a huge fan of ‘Contagion,'” is that you intended a patronizing “get a life” tone in your earlier comment, “Don’t hurt yourselves, guys.” But we know that’s not the case, right? Because if that is what you intended, you would be acting disingenous at best and unprofessionally condescending towards your obsessive-geek readership at worst.

    Also, you’re a smart writer, so you know full well you could just *not* make coy tiptoe-around-an-embargo tweets or “inadvertant” comments about a movie you’d rather wait to address in more in-depth form later. Writing is not just regurgitating your thoughts onto paper with no mental barrier acting as a filter, and I’m surprised I’m having to say this so overtly, frankly.


  • 30 8-28-2011 at 10:21 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Jesus it was a joke. A self-effacing one at that. You’re being unbelievably ridiculous. (And you still miss the point of the Tweet, but good God, it doesn’t matter enough for me to get into this any further.)

  • 31 8-28-2011 at 10:39 pm

    Brett Buckalew said...

    I’ll back out too, and turn it over to the other readers: did anyone else here interpret Kris’ “stop the presses” comment as a poke at me instead of one at his own expense?

    If it turns out I’m alone, then obviously I’m being ridiculous, and I’ll issue a proper mea culpa.


  • 32 8-28-2011 at 10:44 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I’m sure some took it as a jab at you. I’m a prickly guy, tend to give off a negative vibe even when unintended. No need to “turn it over to the readers” in some unnecessary display. It was a nudge at how unimportant what I said about the film on Twitter was. If that’s not good enough for you, then I don’t know what to tell you.

  • 33 8-28-2011 at 11:17 pm

    Brett Buckalew said...

    Cool, no worries. My interest in turning it over to the readers was twofold: I wanted to make sure I wasn’t perceived as a loon, and I wanted to be responsible enough to apologize if I was proven to be rash in my interpretation of your joke. But your response does indeed make turning it over to the readers totally unnecessary.

    So, everyone else: please ignore my question in comment #81.

    I had no interest in gloating if you didn’t respond and others did supporting me, but it is hard to take that “turn it over to the readers” tack and not seem at least a little melodramatic in doing so. I would’ve just shut up and not apologized if others agreed with me.

    Which I’ll do now! :)


  • 34 8-29-2011 at 6:24 am

    JJ1 said...

    In all honesty, I took Kris’ comment ……


    My response to David was all about his comment in the wake of Warrior, less about what I think of this particular film (him meaning Contagion).

    Don’t hurt yourselves, guys.”

    …. very simply as a ….’Brett and JJ1, love your back & forth on this, but unfortunately, the source tweet had nothing to do with ‘Contagion’ anyway. It was about ‘Warrior’. Let me put a stop to this cute, but misguided commentary now.’

    And the ‘Don’t hurt yourselves, guys’ came across to me as Kris chuckling and saying, “guys, haha, please don’t hurt your brains wondering about my little old opinion of Contagion all week long since nothing was being discussed about Contagion on the first place”.

    Is that correct, Kris?

    I did not, honestly, see any of Kris’ comments as condescending or agitated or anything of the like. I just think it was a communication breakdown because of the internet/mistaking context/mistaking tone, etc.

    Brett – I SO appreciate your initial comment to me. That was well thought-out and awesome of you to type that up for me. Very interesting WGA and other assorted info on ‘Contagion’. Thanks again! :)

    But I do think you’ve misread a lot inferred since. Please don’t be upset with me. :)

  • 35 8-29-2011 at 7:54 am

    DylanS said...

    Kris: You mentioned in the podcast that you were soon going to see “Take Shelter”. The trailer has me very intrigued, and I’m curious to hear what your take on it is.

  • 36 8-29-2011 at 12:10 pm

    Brett Buckalew said...


    Why on earth would I be upset with you? :)

    Your analysis of Kris’ first response is actually extremely helpful in that it does prove one inference I made that I assumed to be common sense really wasn’t. The thing is, I always interpret the expression “Oy” as one of frustration at the very least and more often than not some level of anger. I’ve *never* heard it used in a “just kidding around” context, though it’s now clear from your obviously dead-on interpretation of Kris’ response that that’s what was meant. Live and learn, I guess.


  • 37 8-29-2011 at 12:13 pm

    JJ1 said...

    OK, cool beans, Brett. :-)

  • 38 8-29-2011 at 12:13 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Yes, what JJ said. Let’s break bread.

  • 39 8-29-2011 at 12:15 pm

    JJ1 said...

    good times

  • 40 8-29-2011 at 12:34 pm

    Brett Buckalew said...

    But I HATE bread!!

    Naw, just kidding. I was just so tempted to either make that joke or a reference to the breaking-bread-driven final scene in “Munich,” and I figured the former was less spoiler-y, not to mention more tasteful.


  • 41 9-02-2011 at 8:30 am

    Smokey Cloud said...

    Just wanted to say I’m really glad you guys enjoyed the Rise of the Planet of the Apes so much. We worked really hard on it and it’s super awesome to hear so much debate about Serkis’s performance, the visual fx, and how well-reviewed it is. The sound team is exceptionally proud.

  • 42 9-09-2011 at 9:03 am

    Lea said...

    Best feature doc for me so far this year is HBO’s “Marathon Boy”. My pick of Tribeca, an incredible film – can see this be in there come Oscar time.