I am alive. You probably doubt that given my total lack of activity over the past two weeks. And for that, I apologize. We all come to points in our lives where the things we love can’t be our priority. Blogging has taken a backseat this month, and I’m sorry to disappoint my loyal readers. I realize that I have to earn your readership, and I look forward to winning you over again once I get back on my feet. But for now, please be patient as I try to regain that footing.
I thank you all so much and apologize again. I think all will be well in the end, but my energies have been required in a lot of places recently. Hopefully it all turns out the way I hope.
Well, Emma Stone didn’t get an Oscar nomination. Shocker. It’s unfortunate because – get this – I think she gave a better performance than Annette Bening AND Jennifer Lawrence, both nominated actresses this year.
It’s just another tough year for comedic actresses, who fare only slightly better than Christopher Nolan nowadays. A truly comedic performance is rarely nominated, probably around once or twice a decade. We technically classify some performance as comedic – Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada,” Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” Alan Arkin in “Little Miss Sunshine,” Keira Knightley in “Pride and Prejudice,” Kate Winslet in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” to name a bunch – but these are really just light-hearted dramatic acting in movies with some laugh.
There were only a few that charted with the Academy over the last decade: Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder,” Ellen Page in “Juno,” Johnny Depp in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and Renee Zellweger in “Bridget Jones’ Diary” are the only nominated performances of the last decade that I consider to be truly comedic actor. I’m willing to debate a few others, but all of those are heavily tinted with dramatic shades. These comedic actors get, in the words of Rodney Dangerfield, “no respect.”
In my Oscar Moment about “Easy A,” I didn’t offer any hope that Emma Stone would be nominated; in fact, I didn’t even ask the question in my poll. I defended the award-worthiness of comedic actors and actresses, saying that they excel in a very different kind of acting that requires a different but still challenging set of skills. My poll asked voters whether they thought comedic actors deserved to receive Academy Award nominations.
The results were overwhelmingly in favor of actors like Stone receiving nominations. Nearly 90% of voters replied that they think that comedic actors ARE deserving. I don’t think that Emma stone’s snub represent a sort of “last straw” for audiences in the consistent overlooking of comedic actors, but I do hope that the unofficial policy gets some serious thought soon.
There was a time when “Another Year” seemed like not only a sure-fire Best Picture and Director nominee, but a legitimate threat to win them both. That was back in the summer after the Cannes Film Festival when it had all the buzz.
Fast forward two seasons and Mike Leigh’s movie is on life support, barely breathing in an awards season that has given the movie little love other than for Lesley Manville from the BAFTAs and National Board of Review. Mike Leigh’s direction and writing have gone basically unnoticed.
Now, the movie hopes to draw enough support from the Mike Leigh-loving Academy voters to get a nomination and salvage itself. I can’t say whether or not the movie merits a nomination as it has yet to open in Houston. But I can tell you that its prospects are slim.
Back in September when the Oscar race looked entirely different, I wrote an Oscar Moment piece covering “Another Year.” In it, I pointed out that the deserving factor could work to Mike Leigh’s advantage:
“… at 67, Leigh may be the beneficiary of ‘let’s-give-it-to-him-before-he-leaves-us’ syndrome in the Best Director category. If he’s nominated, he’ll be a big threat because he’s been there twice before and many will feel that he finally deserves it. Plus, according to Kris Tapley of In Contention, ‘to say the least, it’s Leigh’s finest hour in years.'”
The poll voters were split back then with half thinking it would be Leigh’s time and half thinking it wouldn’t be. Four months later, it seems almost certain that it will NOT be Leigh’s time.
I enjoy looking back and seeing what the race could have been.
With all the hype around Jacki Weaver’s performance in “Animal Kingdom,” I just had to see what all the fuss was about this week. And to be honest, I wasn’t all that impressed. In my review, I wrote:
“As for Jacki Weaver, the reason I plopped this movie in my DVD player, I saw why she needed an Oscar campaign but not why she deserved a campaign. She plays a one-note character that doesn’t play much of a part in the storyline until the conclusion. Her big emotional scene falls pretty flat, unless, of course, you consider changing her facial expression ever so slightly compelling enough for an award. Had I not heard all the buzz around Weaver, I would have forgotten about her as quickly as I’ll forget ‘Animal Kingdom.’ Neither have any teeth, something necessary to make a crime thriller bite.”
But with the campaign in high gear, she seems to be making a mark. So back in December, I polled readers on an Oscar Moment, asking them if they thought Weaver would receive an Oscar nomination.
The jury was in favor of Weaver as both voters said she would be nominated. If I were an Academy member, I wouldn’t vote for her. But I’m not an Academy member, and I think she will probably make it. But I’m not confident or positive in that assertion.
I loved “Rabbit Hole.” I gave it A- back in November and ranked it #9 on my 10 best of 2010. In defense of the movie, I wrote:
“Grief is either overdone or understated. In ‘Rabbit Hole,’ it’s presented in a manner so raw that it manages to be both at the same time, making for one of the most moving experiences of the year. A story about a husband and wife, played to brilliance by Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart, grieving their lost child, the movie shows many ways to cope. Kidman’s Becca wants to move on, Eckhart’s Howie wants to live with it, and in the middle of it all is Becca’s mother, played by Dianne Weist, offering her advice on how to get to the peaceful state in which she resides. There’s no answer to the question of who handles it best or which way is best; in fact, there’s not even an attempt to answer it. But there’s something beautiful about an unanswered question, and maybe that’s why the grace of ‘Rabbit Hole’ has stuck with me for so long.”
So I’m a little upset that it has flown under the radar all season with the exception of Nicole Kidman’s moving work. Aaron Eckhart and Dianne Weist both turned in astounding, Oscar-worthy performances as well. The movie itself deserves to pop up in the expanded Oscar Best Picture field.
But alas, my hope is in likely in vain. Despite the one voter in the poll who said it would be nominated for Best Picture back in October on my Oscar Moment about the movie, it just doesn’t look likely. Anything is possible, I suppose, but this would make “The Blind Side” look like an expected nomination.
“The Way Back” opens nationwide today with no Oscar buzz to bolster box office numbers. Given the tough subject material – an escape from a Siberian goulag and the long, dangerous walk home – Newmarket probably should have released this earlier. But they opted for the qualifying run strategy, which worked for “The Last Station” in 2009.
However, it doesn’t look like it will pan out for Peter Weir’s movie for any nominations, least of all Best Picture. There is no indication that much love for this movie exists at all – no critics listed it, and no guilds have shown support. Heck, it’s entirely possible that most of the Academy voters haven’t even seen the movie.
The results from the poll I placed on the Oscar Moment back in November don’t seem to echo the obvious truth about the movie now. Both voters (as in two) said they think the movie would be nominated for Best Picture. I think that only in an incredibly dark horse scenario would that happen.
Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, the stars of “Blue Valentine,” both missed out on Golden Globe wins and BAFTA nominations. But will both, one, or neither get Oscar nominations? Perhaps it’s time to check the poll!
There were five voters in the poll, and none of them thought that Ryan Gosling alone would get nominated or that neither of them would get nominated. However, 40% thought Williams alone would receive a nomination. In my opinion, she was the better of the two, and I’d much rather see her get nominated than her co-star.
60% of voters thought that both would get nominated. I think what could end up hurting “Blue Valentine” in the end is that it’s like a combo deal: you can’t nominated one without the other. I feel like it’s more likely to see both left off than one put on. Williams has a better shot than Gosling at a nomination, but I feel like her fifth slot is ripe for a surprise nominee like Hailee Steinfeld, Noomi Rapace, or Julianne Moore (!).