Oscar Moment: “Never Let Me Go”

4 09 2010

“Never Let Me Go” seems like a perfect awards candidate on paper.  Let me run you down a bulleted list of why this is an ideal candidate for the Academy Awards.

It is based on a best-selling novel. Popular novels have what many consider to be a carved-out niche at the Oscars.  In 2008, it was “The Reader.”  In 2007, it was “Atonement.”  In 2004, it was “Sideways.”  It also helps that Time called “Never Let Me Go” the best novel of the decade.  The writer of the book, Kazuo Ishiguro, also wrote another novel adapted into a movie, “The Remains of the Day.”  In 1993, it received 8 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

It has British people. More and more attention has been shone on the growing influence of our friends across the pond on the Academy Awards.  Their tastes have become more closely aligned with the BAFTAs in recent years.  Plus, there has been a British movie in the Best Picture race quite consistently in the last decade.  In 2009, it was “An Education.”  In 2008, it was “The Reader.”  In 2007, it was “Atonement.”  In 2006, it was “The Queen.”  The British are coming, the British are coming!!

It has Oscar friendly British people.  Although they didn’t give her the golden statue last year, the Oscars certainly like 24-year-old Carey Mulligan, and she looks to be in prime position to make a run for the prize again.  There’s also Keira Knightley, an unexpected addition to the 2005 Best Actress slate for her work on “Pride and Prejudice.”  She looks to compete in the Best Supporting Actress race here, generally pretty friendly to younger actresses.  In addition, there’s Andrew Garfield, who will probably rack up plenty of Best Breakout Performer awards for his work on this and “The Social Network.”

It is a story of “love, loss, and hidden truths.” Now think of that vague description of the thematic content of the movie, and name some Best Picture nominees that phrase could describe.  2008’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” perhaps?  “The Reader” that same year?  “Atonement?”  You get the picture.  It’s only an added bonus that the movie takes place in a dystopian society, which the pessimistic Academy will eat up.  They have certainly loved movies that take a bleaker, honest look at our nature – a trend of winners I’d say started with “Crash” back in 2005.  Some have linked it to a general sense of American disillusionment that the liberal Hollywood has decided to make the zeitgeist sentiment of the nation.

Doesn’t this sound like a winning equation?  It’s hard to believe that this is just now emerging as a big player and wasn’t a favorite from the very beginning.  (Relevant side comment: why didn’t 2010 have an early favorite to win it all?)  But the Oscars haven’t exactly chomped at the bait recently.  They chose to include different tastes like “District 9” and “The Blind Side” that aren’t usually represented, snubbing early favorites like the dismally reviewed “Nine” and the coolly received “Invictus.”

So is “Never Let Me Go” going to continue the glorious British literary adaptation streak?  Or have those movies been represented so much recently that the Academy will say enough?

BEST BETS FOR NOMINATIONS: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress (Knightley), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Score

OTHER POSSIBLE NOMINATIONS: Best Supporting Actor (Garfield), Best Production Design



4 responses

5 09 2010
Danny King

Early response is mostly positive. It seems strictly divided though – some are saying “distant,” while others are saying “masterpiece.” Nevertheless, I believe the acting – especially Mulligan and Garfield – has been praised from all corners, and may end up earning Oscar consideration.

5 09 2010

The reviews I’ve seen from Telluride seem fair mixed, but I think it still gets nominated. Like Danny said, acting categories are probably the best bet.

7 09 2010

Mulligan will surely receice her second nomination, as for the rest of the supporting cast is anyone’s guess.

7 09 2010


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