Wednesday, September 21, 2011

2012 Oscar Contenders, Pt. II

Two strong contenders... Only one prize... 
In the next installment of the 12 for ’12 Oscar Watch series, two serious Oscar contenders and a dark horse are covered. This post features two legitimate contenders and a potential contender, unlike the first post... 

To put a brief background on this series, in July, I presented a list of 12 films that I considered being legitimate Oscar contenders. I will be covering all 12 films in four posts (do the math, and that’s three films a post. Hurray math!).

Now… Keep reading to see the next films that could be big winners at the 84th Academy Awards.


Director: Bennett Miller (Capote)
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Reasons It’s a Contender: When I first heard word that there might be a Moneyball film, I was beside myself with utter bliss. As an ardent baseball fan, I enjoyed the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, so I was obviously very intrigued at the idea of the true story about the 2002 Oakland Athletic’s coming to life on the big screen. After seeing early reports and clips of Miller’s latest project, that feeling has not changed. At all. Brad Pitt looks fantastic as the charismatic and eccentric general manager of the Oakland Athletics, Billy Beane. As a huge baseball fanatic, this film could easily be my favorite “sports film” of EVER. But… could it be more than just another feel good sports flick (like that awful and incredibly overrated movie, The Blind Side)? Short answer: yes. Why? Two words: Aaron Sorkin. Sorken is known for penning A Few Good Men and, oh yeah, The Social Network, the latter of which burst onto the Hollywood scene last year, and gave the overwhelming favorite, The King’s Speech, a serious run for its Oscar money. While Moneyball may be written off as just another sports story, I can easily see it being a heavy favorite come award show season. Pitt’s performance could definitely carry him to an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. The acting chops of Hoffman will also carry this film. Hoffman reunites with Miller, who has a Best Director and Best Picture nomination under his belt for the Hoffman starring film Capote. All-in-all, my gut has Moneyball as the early leader in this Oscar race.

Reasons It’s a Pretender: Hmmmm… Well, it seems like it could be easily seen as a feel good, sports story. The clichés and prototypical tropes of said films could be detrimental to a deep award show run. I can’t see Pitt’s or Hoffman’s performance, Miller’s directing, or Sorkin’s writing being questioned at all. Jonah Hill could make or break this film, but… Like I said, Moneyball should be an early leader in Oscar talks, similar to Sorkin’s other film, The Social Network.

Release Date: 23 September 2011

The Ides of March

Director: George Clooney (Good Night, and Good Luck, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind)
Starring: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood

Reasons It’s a Contender: Politics. Dirty Politics. Moral Ambiguity. Those themes tie into the premise of Ides and coupled with superb acting talents of Clooney and Gosling, this film should easily be a top contender for the Oscars. Clooney has displayed that he can not only be a terrific actor, but a skilled director as well. It also helps that he has the talents of Gosling, Giamatti, and Tomei along for the ride. Gosling and Clooney could both be nominated for Best Actor with a chance that Clooney could also grab a Best Director nod. Trashy political films that deal with the corrupting and questioning of the morals and ethics that happen during a campaign should make for an intriguing premise that Oscar folks love.

Reasons Its a Pretender: Perhaps this film could be a little too ambitious… Its premise could be its own demise, as the “politics corrupts” trope is something that audiences see as overly cliché. The cynical view on politics could also turn people off, mainly due to the fact that annoying political trash is happening right now. We don’t really need to go to a movie to hear or see it in action… That being said, I do not see many flaws in Ides just yet. The acting and directing should be exceptional, regardless of plot clichés, which in my opinion will not really be the issue. When it’s all said and done, The Ides of March will probably be a film that we will be hearing a lot about come the award show circuits. 

Release Date: 7 October 2011

The Rum Diary

Director: Bruce Robinson (Withnail and I)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Richard Jenkins, Aaron Eckhart

Reasons It’s a Contender: I had this Robinson film listed in last years Oscar Watch post, but due to a release date change, The Rum Diary, originally a novel by Hunter S. Thomson, would have been ineligible for the 2011 Oscars. With an end of October release, Diary will be thrust into the thick of the Oscar race. Depp’s performance, playing Paul Kemp, a disenchanted New York journalist, should garner a fair bit of Oscar attention. Thankfully, Depp drops the gimmicky, “Captain Jack” shtick. While this film will be no Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which is also material by Hunter S. Thomson, (and that could be a good thing…) The Rum Diary should have just enough outrageous and provocative substance to keep fans of Las Vegas and Depp thoroughly intrigued. Depp isn’t the only quality star in this film, Jenkins, Eckhart, and Heard help round out this talented cast. While I can foresee it might have difficulty staying in the Oscar race, The Rum Diary should definitely not be counted out of it just yet.

Reasons It’s a Pretender: It could be a little too outrageous and provocative for its own good. While it’s allegedly based on a true-ish story, the antics of and Johnny-Depp-playing-Paul-Kemp character will most likely have a lot of “oh dear, I shouldn’t have laughed at that…” humor. The premise could also be rather disjointed, much like other Thomson-based material. The whole “find your inner strength” type plot could also be a bit tedious as well. That trope definitely was not well received in the movie Eat, Pray, Love. Granted, these seem like totally different films, but I wouldn’t be surprised if The Rum Diary fizzles like Eat, Pray, Love.

Release Date: 28 October 2011

Right now, these little gold men are Moneyball's to lose...
While The Rum Diary is a bit of a dark horse, Moneyball and The Ides of March look to be serious contenders for top prizes at the Oscars. While these films will face some stiff competition, as of now, these two films are my frontrunners in the Oscar race. Not only should they garner Best Picture attention, but the acting and directing in both Moneyball and Ides could also earn some much deserved consideration for the top acting and directing awards. I can definitely see Moneyball taking a dominating award show run much like The Social Network. However, with no film like The King's Speech in its way (Iron Lady perhaps, but... we'll see), I can definitely see Moneyball taking it all. Bold, early prediction, yes, but a prediction nonetheless. 



Be sure to check out Part I and Part III! Part IV Coming Soon!

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