Friday, October 8, 2010

Oscar Watch, Pt. II

Well, it has been awhile since the last Oscar Watch installment (and the first installment), but I have slowly but surely rolled out the next portion of the 24 Films to Keep Tabs On come Oscar season!
Now, I realize most of these films haven't been released to the mainstream public, and to tell you the truth, most of these films won't be viewed by the mainstream public, only snobby, hoighty-toighty, art snobs like myself. That being said, it's never (I repeat, NEVER!) too early to start talking about the Oscars!
Some interesting thing before we start... a film I had in the second part of the first installment (confusing, I know), Blue Valentine, was hit with an NC-17 rating. Yikes. From what I've gathered from early reports was that the film was intense at times, but hardly anything worth giving such a harsh rating.

Now, without further ado, I present you Part II of the Oscar Watch series.

The Ghost Writer 

Directed by Roman “Rape” Polanski
Starring Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan

Why It’ll Win: Cheap, low blow on Polanski aside, the guy knows how to direct a film. Masterfully executed with relative Polanski-ish ease, the film elegantly thrills the audience with witty dialogue, wonderful acting, gorgeous style, and of course, magnificent directing. 

Why It’ll Fizzle: The Ghost Writer was released a little too early to be considered a strong contender for any of the “major” awards during the Oscar season. Also, the film hasn’t exactly been considered anything “noteworthy,” nor have critics fawned crazily over it. Sure, Polanski is a fantastic director, but he can only do so much. I feel like The Ghost Writer will be lost in the shuffle of the new, hip films. While this would be disappointing, in the end, The Ghost Writer is nothing special, so no sleep will be lost. 
Release Date: March 19, 2010
Check out our own YAMB Review of The Ghost Writer by Libby Huizenga

Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring Matt Damon and Bryce Dallas Howard

Why It’ll Win: Two award show darlings, Eastwood and Damon, team up once again (the first film being the under-appreciated, but disappointing Invictus, which still gave Damon a Best Supporting Actor nommy). The film is “a supernatural thriller in the vein of The Sixth Sense” according to Variety. The film combines romance and spirituality and supernatural-ity (a word...? no.). These films always seem to intrigue Oscar and award show voters. Look for Damon to garner Best Actor acclaim for his role as the hesitant psychic. 

Why It’ll Fizzle: While Eastwood is an accomplished director, early reports find this film a worthwhile, but not an exceptionally outstanding movie. The film was screened in September, and the studio wanted to keep reviews from being reached by the “general population,” until the official release date. This is never a good sign. However, even though the studio wanted to keep things close to the chest, the ever present Twitter allowed reporters to tweet away. Most early reports were negative. Another disappointing sign. 
Release Date: October 22, 2010


Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring a lot of stars. Really.

Why It’ll Win: Superly-duperly ambitious mind bender. A star-studded cast of ridiculous proportions, along with a superstar/ hotshot/ rockstar of a director helps out, as well. This “small side film” before Nolan tackled Batman 3 definitely left a mark in cinematic history. The super-twisty mind bender was, well, like every other Nolan film, critically acclaimed as well as being a heavy-hitting box office film. Critics fawned over it, audiences watched it, and watched it again, comedy groups parodied it, and in the end, Inception currently stands as one of the best films of 2010. 

Why It’ll Fizzle: Let’s just say action films are usually frowned upon in award show circuits. However, Inception may break that mold (similar to another Nolan film, The Dark Knight, which changed the cinematic landscape). However, I can’t see any of the super-star studded cast members winning any Best Actor/ Actress nods, as no one particularly stood out as being spectacular. Nor can I see this film winning the Best Picture Award. In the end, Inception is a fantastically fun film to watch, but it will stay at just that: a popcorn film. I realize Inception should be regarded as a “masterpiece,” but I can’t see it as that. Sorry. Sound off in the comment section below if you want.
Release Date: July 16, 2010
Check out our own YAMB review of Inception by Joseph Matheson and J Bernard Muyskens

The Kids Are All Right 

Directed by Lisa Cholodenko
Starring Annette Bening and Juilanne Moore

Why It’ll Win: Even though it was released in July, this film generated a ton of early Oscar buzz with breathtaking performances from its leading ladies, its snarky script, and endearing storyline. It tackles family values and what makes a family, but in a rather unorthodox (and taboo) way. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are outstanding as they give realistic, believable performances as a modern, lesbian couple. 

Why It’ll Fizzle: Well, comedies (okay, this one’s more of a dramedy, but still) don’t really do so hot at the Academy Awards. They seem to pick up steam (JunoLittle Miss Sunshine, etc.), but in the end, end up with the “nominated” brand and that’s it. And a mid-summer release does not help it at all. It wouldn’t be forgotten, as it’s already picking up some Oscar steam, but it could find itself overshadowed by the upcoming fall films.
Release Date: July 9, 2010

Love and Other Drugs 

Directed by Edward Zwick
Starring Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal

Why It’ll Win: While the name will surely generate controversy, the film itself is a introspective movie about a drug salesman, Jaime, (Gyllenhaal) and his love interest, Maggie, (Hathaway) who also has Parkinson’s. The dramedy should finally be a movie that helps Gyllenhaal’s career because, let’s be honest, the guy was heading down the Nic Cage rode in acting (aka awful movies that are awful.). Love and Other Drugs should net Hathaway her second nomination for Best Actress. I wouldn’t be surprised if she won that award either, as there is a murky actress field filled with Hollywood outsiders and first timers. Also, the content of the film should snag some Oscar talk, as it takes a look in on the pharmaceutical industry. The director, Ed Zwick, was also part of critically acclaimed films such as Blood Diamond, Traffic, and Shakespeare in Love. It should be interesting to see how he whips Love and Other Drugs up!

Why It’ll Fizzle: Well, besides the director and two star actors, nothing really stands out. Also, the Best Picture field is getting pretty crowded. However, I don’t have a lot of negative reviews (or any reviews for that matter), so I’ll have to withhold judgement for now. I doubt Gyllenhaal’s performance will be “good enough” to go toe-to-toe with early favorites, such as Colin Firth and James Franco. That being said, Hathaway is a very talented young actress, and this could be the film were she finally gets recognized for her work by being given the funky golden statue. 
Release Date: November 24, 2010

Never Let Me Go 

Directed by Mark Romanek
Starring Keira Knightley, Andrew “Spiderman” Garfield, and Carey Mulligan

Why It’ll Win: Poignant, evocative, moving, with excellent acting. That’s a pretty good go-to film come Oscar season. The acting talent has already garnered some Oscar buzz. Never Let Me Go is also based off a popular book with the same name written in 2005. It also has a very intriguing plot, but I won’t elaborate because I may spoil it for some...

Why It’ll Fizzle: Well... the acting performances are getting praise, but the film itself is rather disappointing, as it is gathering mixed reviews at best. Called “flat” and “uninspiring” are not words that are tagged on big Oscar films. The film may also move a little too slowly and be a little too melodramatic to receive serious consideration for any big awards come award season. 
Release Date: October 1, 2010 (limited)

The Rum Diary 

Directed by Bruce Robinson
Starring Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, and Amber Heard

Why It’ll Win: Hmmmm... well, I really don’t think that this film will be released in time for the Oscar season. This makes me quite perturbed. Last time I checked, this film was going to be released sometime in the fall, but now that date seems to have been moved to March of 2011. That means it will be ineligible for the 2011 Academy Awards. I had the same reaction when I heard that Shutter Island was being moved, but after being disappointed by Shutter Island, I think the studio, Infinitum Nihil, may not feel like The Rum Diary will be a major player in the award season. Regardless, I was actually looking forward to this film due to the sweet cast. I’ll keep you posted if the release date changes. Again.

Why It’ll Fizzle: See above...
Release Date: Too Late. :(

Shutter Island 

Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, and Ben Kingsley

Why It’ll Win: Scorsese coupled with DiCaprio, with a sprinkle of Kingsley. There. A seemingly perfect recipe for award show gold. This psychological twister was moved from October of 2009 to February of 2010. This angered me, due to the fact that Shutter Island would miss the deadline for the 2009 Oscars, an award show I thought it would surely take by storm. Visually stunning with a nice little twist, and beautifully acted and directed, Scorsese seems to have another solid film here.

Why It’ll Fizzle: Well... Shutter Island already fizzled. And crashed. And died. Sorry, but it did. Sure it may have been an above-average movie, at best, but it offered up minimal thrills and a pretty obvious plot twist. It’s movement to February meant that its distributor, Paramount, didn’t believe it would be worth the time and energy (oh yeah, and that money thing...) on promoting it as a big Oscar hitter. They were right. Shutter Island has served its intended purpose, not as an award show heavy-hitter, but rather, a money making film with lots of star power. While the move to Late Winter/ Early Spring didn’t help the film much, the film didn’t really help itself either. Shutter Island wasn’t bad, but it was disappointing because I expected much more from a Scorsese-Leo-Kingsley combo.
Release Date: February 19, 2010

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