Oscar Moment: “The Kids Are All Right”

22 06 2010

Everyone loves a summer indie comedy, even the Oscars. “Little Miss Sunshine” charmed audiences at the Sundance Film Festival, then slowly won over an audience, expanded that audience on video, and then received four Oscar nominations including Best Picture as well as wins for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor.

“The Kids Are All Right” seems to have the first part of the “Little Miss Sunshine” formula in place after it became the anointed indie comedy at Sundance.  Written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko, the movie follows Nic and Jules (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) and their children Joni and Laser (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson), living comfortably in Los Angeles.  That is, until the kids decided to introduce Paul (Mark Ruffalo), the sperm donor that made them possible, into their lives.

The film appears to depoliticize a lesbian couple to a certain degree, normally a subject to cause a pretty big stir, and opens the movie up to a newer crowd. We are still awaiting release, but from what I’ve gathered, Focus is going to push the movie very mainstream. I’m anticipating the usual extremist backlash, but I don’t think this is a propaganda piece designed to shove homosexuality down anyone’s throat. It may very well be like any comedy where kids meet their long lost biological father; there’s just one more mother in the mix.

I think the movie’s surest bet for a nomination – and maybe even a win – is Best Original Screenplay.  The category is one of very few that is friendly to comedies; in fact, six of the ten winners of the past decades have been comedic scripts (although I’ll argue with you that “Lost in Translation” isn’t really a comedy).  If the movie proves to be original and funny with a beating heart inside, it’s going to be a formidable foe in the category.

But the actors are going to be another big Academy selling point for the movie.  The two leading ladies, Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, are incredibly overdue for the big prize.  Bening has three nominations, and she really should have won for “American Beauty.”  Her turn as Carolyn Burnham is absolutely one of my favorite roles ever, and she absolutely nailed it.  At the time, it appears that Focus will push her as the film’s leading actress where she could end up facing Hilary Swank again.  It’s been since 1998 that an actress won the category for a comedic role, but Bening is the kind of actress they might reverse a trend for.

Julianne Moore has even more nominations than Bening at a whopping four, and she is coming fresh off a snub for “A Single Man.” She’s one of the few actors who have pulled off dual nominations in a single year, and that’s a feat in itself.  It appears that she will be competing in the Best Supporting Actress category, which doesn’t seem to feature any big names right now (save maybe Keira Knightley and Dianne Wiest).  We saw how the Academy bent over backwards to give Kate Winslet an Oscar after five missed opportunities; it could be Moore’s time.

Mark Ruffalo is on the hunt for his first nomination with “The Kids Are All Right,” and it’s about time he got one.  He deserved a nomination for “You Can Count on Me” a decade ago, but he hasn’t exactly amassed an Academy-friendly resume since.  He has a spotty track record with some corny romantic comedies littered among a few smaller indies.  Overdue for a nomination may be a bit of a stretch to say, yet few can argue that Ruffalo is a great actor.  Perhaps an Oscar nomination might steer him away from the rom-coms and back to good, solid movies.

If the Academy really goes gaga for this movie, Wasikowska and Hutcherson may find themselves in the mix for a nomination. But a nomination is the best case scenario for them because Moore and Ruffalo have much more respect and longer careers. The need is much less pressing to anoint these young stars as Hollywood royalty.

In Contention, Kris Tapley’s highly regarded Oscars site, has “The Kids Are All Right” getting a whole lot of nominations. Five, to be specific – acting nominations for Bening, Moore, and Ruffalo plus Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture. Let’s face it, we all need a comedy in the Best Picture mix, so I’m going to agree with Tapley at least until the movie is released. But a nomination for each one of the main actors is a little more suspect.

The poll for this Oscar Moment will be a little different. Rather than asking a simple “pick one out of these answers,” I’m going to give you the option of picking multiple answers.  The question: “What Oscar nominations will ‘The Kids Are All Right’ receive?” Pick the ones you think will.

BEST BETS FOR NOMINATIONS: Best Picture, Best Actress (Bening), Best Supporting Actress (Moore), Best Supporting Actor (Ruffalo), Best Original Screenplay

OTHER POTENTIAL NOMINATIONS: Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Wasikowska), Best Supporting Actor (Hutcherson)


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4 responses

22 06 2010
Red

Nice writeup. Looking foward to this as well. Ruffalo is usually able to make a killing while doing indie flicks, and this should be no different.

Since you read InContention, I’ll throw out there that if I remember right, Guy Lodge has seen this and predicted oscar nominations for both Moore and Benning.

22 06 2010
Marshall

A lot of people saw this at Sundance; I guess my writing might have given the mistaken impression that it has yet to be seen.

I didn’t know Guy had his picks up, but I saw that Kris updated his picks and Moore no longer made the cut for Supporting Actress. But on a positive note, he now has “Toy Story 3” as a Best Picture nominee and STILL has “Inception” down for noms in Picture/Director/Screenplay!

23 06 2010
Red

Guy hasn’t done any lists, but back when he was a guest writer on Nathaniel Rogers’ (FimExperience) big Oscar talk back in Feburary or March, he siad he was positive he had already seen three acting nominations. Moore, Benning, and Jennifer Lawrence.

About nobody seeing it, sorry about if my comment came off the wrong way. Knew it played at Sundance and get possitive acclaim.

22 06 2010
Castor

I think we should not get ahead of ourselves there. The movie needs to actually be good first ahaha 😉

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