Mark Harris joins the discussion with fringe lead actor picks

Posted by · 10:26 pm · September 12th, 2011

Two years ago author and journalist Mark Harris wrote what I think is one of the most salient Oscar season observances ever squeezed out of this unnecessary corner of the web. I always look to him for one of the most above-the-fray, but smart and informed, perspectives on a given season. And this piece over at Grantland is a great example, too.

He reduces these early days of the awards season to the echo-chamber they’ve come to represent. And I don’t count myself out of the insanity he cuts everything down to with this precise paragraph:

If you’re like most moviegoers, or most Academy voters, you don’t attend any of these festivals. So “buzz” is really code for a two-way conversation conducted between a handful of awards handicappers eager to anoint or dismiss potential contenders, and a handful of studio publicists and independent firms who are listening for the dog-whistle frequency that tells them that somebody thinks their movie might be in the running.

The run-on sentence that follows that bit is also incredibly biting and hits the mark oh so squarely. But ultimately the piece hinges on four choice lead actor performances in indie films that could be ripe for a “save a seat” campaign, as he dubbed Jacki Weaver’s unlikely track last year.

(Additionally, he touches on a point I’ve been saving for next week’s post-Toronto Off the Carpet column — that this year is refreshingly free of an anointed “frontrunner” out of Venice/Telluride/Toronto frame, leaving the whole game wide open in mid-September for a change.)

Give it a read over at Grantland. I’m assuming/hoping this “Oscarmetrics” thing will be an on-going deal. Also, follow Mark at Twitter, where he recently joined up. Well worth the attention.

[Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures]

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13 responses so far

  • 1 9-12-2011 at 11:09 pm

    Jesse Crall said...

    Harris is great and Pictures at a Revolution is required reading for New Hollywood junkies like myself.

    I think the real winner in all this is DiCaprio. I feel like he’s a frontrunner by default because J. Edgar hasn’t opened itself up for disappointment. His other big biopic role, as Howard Hughes, got knocked to number two thanks to Jamie Foxx’s dynamic work in Ray. There’s no Ray this year.

  • 2 9-13-2011 at 1:57 am

    Keith said...

    Gotta admit, for as fun as all this is, doing all this crystal ball gazing so far ahead, I loved Harris’ article. Checked my thinking and gave me some perspective.

  • 3 9-13-2011 at 2:18 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Mark Harris is that little bit better than the rest of us in this game.

  • 4 9-13-2011 at 6:46 am

    Matthew Starr said...

    I’m just happy that it’s September 13 and there are no “locks” yet in any category.

  • 5 9-13-2011 at 6:48 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I actually think there are a couple, but I’m not going to jinx them by saying so. ;)

  • 6 9-13-2011 at 8:20 am

    Zack said...

    I haven’t seen “The Devil’s Double” yet, but I definitely get an impression of the performance(s) that’s similar to what Harris says, that is, award-caliber acting in search of a better movie. I felt the same way about Josh Brolin in “W.”

  • 7 9-13-2011 at 8:23 am

    JJ1 said...

    Brolin made my personal top 5 in ’08.

  • 8 9-13-2011 at 9:08 am

    John-Paul said...

    Matthew, I personally think The Artist is already more or less a lock for a Best Picture nomination, but it remains to be seen whether or not it will be a “strong” nominee (as in contender for the win) or just a “lucky to be nominated” one. Time will tell, but either way, I just don’t see it missing.

  • 9 9-13-2011 at 2:55 pm

    Maxim said...

    I saw a teaser for “We Bought a Zoo” on ET yesterday. It looked unusual. Not something I would have ever guessed came from Crowe.

    Also, I hear a first trailer for Young Adult wil premiere soon.

  • 10 9-13-2011 at 3:10 pm

    shark said...

    This is a really smart, well-observed piece. Harris is definitely one of the good guys in this.

  • 11 9-13-2011 at 4:52 pm

    JTag said...

    Kris, thanks for posting a picture of Win Win. It upsets me to no end that this film is being forgotten in the conversation right now. Hopefully it picks up some year-end critic love.

  • 12 9-13-2011 at 6:24 pm

    RichardA said...

    Win Win is truly an amazing movie. The kid in the movie is also phenomenal, but this is Giamatti’s movie.