It’s been 3 weeks since I last ran this column (thanks to Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and a general lack of events in the awards sphere), and I sure have missed writing. In a ways, a lot of things have happened since then. Yet, at the same time, not a whole lot has happened.
So, without further ado, here are some developments in the Oscar race worth nothing:
The Producers Guild nominates. A group representing the interests of Hollywood producers, the Producers Guild is generally a pretty good indicator of how the Academy will ultimately shape their field. They ultimately solidified that we have eight almost sure-fire nominees, leaving the two remaining spots up for grabs by a few movies. In case you don’t know which eight movies I’m referring to, here they are in a convenient bulleted list (in alphabetical order):
- Black Swan
- The Fighter
- The Kids Are All Right
- The King’s Speech
- The Social Network
- Toy Story 3
- True Grit
Some might argue that “The Kids Are All Right” isn’t a lock since it missed a BFCA nomination and wasn’t a big audience favorite; others might say that “True Grit” isn’t certain because it was totally snubbed at the Golden Globes. I think that both will ultimately get nominated, but “True Grit” is safer because of its robust box office numbers.
But for their last two nominees, they chose Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours” and Ben Affleck’s “The Town.” Both were BFCA nominees for Best Picture that missed Golden Globe nominations for the same award. Neither were big hits with the SAG, only garnering one nomination.
The big story is that Debra Granik’s “Winter’s Bone” was left out in the cold after garnering a BFCA nod for Best Picture and two SAG nominations. It’s been basically narrowed down to “Winter’s Bone,” “127 Hours,” and “The Town” to fight for those last two spots, and missing out on the PGA nomination really hurt here. It’s not a big movie for producers being the tiny budget indie that it is.
I’d also say that the indie portion of Best Picture has been covered without “Winter’s Bone.” Three nominees for the Best Independent Film at the Independent Spirit Awards, “127 Hours,” “The Kids Are All Right,” and “Black Swan,” will likely be represented in the Academy’s field. These three movies had better box office than “Winter’s Bone,” which only made $6 million this summer. So, in other words, “The Town” has leap-frogged “Winter’s Bone” in my predictions.
The Writers Guild nominates. Before listing the nominees, it’s worth noting that there were many high profile ineligibilities this year. In original screenplay, “Another Year,” “Blue Valentine,” and “The King’s Speech” were among the most notable; in adapted screenplay, they excluded “Toy Story 3” and “Winter’s Bone.”
In original screenplay, the surprise nominee was “Please Give,” which will compete against probable Best Picture nominees “Black Swan,” “The Fighter,” “Inception,” and “The Kids Are All Right.” I envision this race as a battle between the latter two movies; the winner will then have to go head-to-head with “The King’s Speech” at the Oscars. (All three were nominated at the Golden Globes but will probably lose to “The Social Network.”) As for “The Fighter,” it will probably be fighting “Another Year” for the final slot in the category – and will most likely be snubbed due to the Academy’s worshipping of Mike Leigh.
In adapted screenplay, they threw a total curveball by throwing “I Love You Phillip Morris” into a field that included “127 Hours,” “The Social Network,” “The Town,” and “True Grit.” Aaron Sorkin is going to run away with this category, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see “The Town” and “True Grit” make way for “Toy Story 3″ and “Winter’s Bone” at the Oscars.
The USC Scripter finalists announced. An award for film adaptations of literature, the USC Scripter award is a nice award for screenwriters to pick up on the way to Best Adapted Screenplay. (In case you couldn’t deduce it, “Toy Story 3″ was ineligible.)
The surprise nominee was “The Ghost Writer” among potential Oscar nominees “127 Hours,” “The Social Network,” “True Grit,” and “Winter’s Bone.” It’s a nice boost for Roman Polanski’s movie, and it certainly gives it a blip on the awards radar. But given how unofficial the award is, it’s probably unwise to look to much into it.
Besides, as I already said, it’s the year of Aaron Sorkin. However, many people believe it to be practically an original screenplay as Sorkin finished his screenplay before Ben Mezrich finished his book, “The Accidental Billionaires.” Mezrich sent Sorkin his notes and research while he was writing the book, and “The Social Network” is based on those – NOT the final book. So perhaps as an adaptation, it’s not the kind of movie that could win this.
BAFTA longlists announced. The real nominations for the BAFTAs (the British version of the Oscars) aren’t announced until January 18, but for some strange reason, they choose to announce a field of 15 in each category that they will ultimately select their nominees from.
The result is ultimately a bunch of clutter not worth looking too much into. ”The King’s Speech” and “Black Swan” led the long list with 15 mentions each. Obviously the former, being such a prominent British title, stands a pretty good chance of taking the most nominations when the real ones are announced.
They did star the top five vote-getters in the preliminary rounds which do provide some interesting insight into their ultimate nominees. So with that in mind, here are some highlights from the list so you don’t have to look at it yourself:
- “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” made their Best Picture longlist. (They didn’t star any nominees in the category.)
- Danny Boyle was one of the starred directors. This is a good sign for Boyle, who seems to be slipping with his movie in the Best Director race. If the British contingent is behind him, he could outmuscle the Coen Brothers for the final slot.
- Aaron Eckhart was longlisted for “Rabbit Hole” (personal favorite, sorry) as were both Leonardo DiCaprio performancesi in 2010. Starred were the usual suspects Eisenberg, Firth, and Franco as well as Jeff Bridges and surprisingly Javier Bardem, who could use a boost right now other than an endorsement of “Biutiful” by Julia Roberts.
- Among likely Best Actress nominees Annette Bening, Natalie Portman, and Michelle Williams, starred selections included Carey Mulligan for “Never Let Me Go” and Julianne Moore for “The Kids Are All Right.” This is big for the latter, who seems to be bullied out of the Best Actress category by her co-star Bening.
- Justin Timberlake was longlisted for “The Social Network,” but co-star Andrew Garfield was starred, along with favorites Bale, Rush, and Ruffalo. Also starred was Bob Hoskins in the British movie “Made in Dagenham.”
- All three of the supporting females in “Black Swan” were on the longlist, including Winona Ryder. Surprisingly, it was Barbara Hershey and not Mila Kunis who was starred. (Fingers crossed Hershey could score an Oscar nod!)
- Melissa Leo, the apparent frontrunner in Best Supporting Actress for her role in “The Fighter,” was not starred. Her co-star Amy Adams was starred, as was Miranda Richardson was starred for “Made in Dagenham.”
- Category fraud was seemingly corrected by placing Hailee Steinfeld in leading actress for “True Grit” and Lesley Manville in supporting actress for “Another Year.”
- Don’t trust them too much – “Alice in Wonderland” was listed as a potential Best Director and Best Actor nominee.
See the full longlists HERE at In Contention.
Technical guilds chime in. The Cinema Audio Society announced its five picks for Best Sound Mixing, which included “Black Swan,” “Inception,” “Shutter Island,” “The Social Network,” and “True Grit.” Perhaps the most surprising nominee is “The Social Network,” which isn’t perceived as a big technical movie. Yet if it continues to pick up nominations, it will prove how widely appealing the movie is – and make it that much more likely to win Best Picture. The more nominations it can pick up, the better.
The Art Directors Guild recognized excellence in three categories as follows:
“Alice in Wonderland”
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I”
“The Social Network”
Again, it’s good for “The Social Network” that it picked up a mention. But perhaps the movie most in need of technical guild support is “Inception,” which came up blank at the SAG Awards. To take home Best Picture, it’s going to need to make a strong showing with these guilds.
“Shutter Island” showed up on both guild lists, setting it up as a dark horse Best Picture nominee. I doubt it happens, but now it can’t be totally unforeseen.
Critics groups all but wrap up. In case you didn’t hear, “The Social Network” swept pretty much all of the critics groups in 2010. It earned its status as “critical darling,” taking home Best Picture from just about everyone. Here are those that dared to be different:
- Austin – “Black Swan”
- Central Ohio – “Inception”
- Dublin – “A Prophet”
- Phoenix – “The King’s Speech”
- San Diego – “Winter’s Bone”
- Utah – “127 Hours” (tied with “The Social Network”)
So as you can see, there was no clear second place movie for critics to “The Social Network.” But someone with the time to calculate the results wrote that “Black Swan” took the second-most honors from critics groups.
The first phase of the Oscar race in 2010 is over, and “The Social Network” has clearly won. But can it keep the lead? Or will another movie come and steal awards from the BFCA, Golden Globes, or SAG? Check back next week as phase two begins.