“Easy A” Poll Results

27 01 2011

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.

“Another Year” Poll Results

24 01 2011

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.

“Animal Kingdom” Poll Results

23 01 2011

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.

“Rabbit Hole” Poll Results

22 01 2011

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” Poll Results

21 01 2011

“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.

“Blue Valentine” Poll Results

20 01 2011

Nobody, baby, but you and me…

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 (!).

“Biutiful” Poll Results

19 01 2011

Javier Bardem got a BAFTA nomination for “Biutiful!”  That’s just about his first significant mention of the year!  Perhaps all is not lost on the horse Julia Roberts has vocally and publicly backed.

BAFTA has more crossover voters with the Oscars than ever, and a nomination here probably means more than a Golden Globe nomination (sorry, Ryan Gosling/Mark Wahlberg).  But will the 2007 Best Supporting Actor be nominated for an Academy Award?  Survey says…

Yes!  Both voters (both as in there were only two) thought that Bardem would get a nomination.  My predictions (basically final) will be announced on Friday, and don’t expect to see Bardem in there.  But the BAFTA nomination was a big boost, and I’m definitely taking him more seriously as a contender thanks to it.

“The Ghost Writer” Poll Results

18 01 2011

The Ghost Writer” wasn’t expected to make much of a dent this awards season, and for the most part, it didn’t.  Polanski’s latest got some attention in Europe among independently minded awards ceremonies, but stateside, it only received a USC Scripter nomination for its screenplay.  It stands a chance of squeezing in that category, but a big name like “True Grit” or “Winter’s Bone” would probably have to fall out for it to get in.

Most people are saying that 11 films are vying for 10 spots in Best Picture, and I can’t argue with that.  But what about dark horses?  No one really thought “The Blind Side” was in legitimate contention last year, did they?  I think that as far as surprise nominees go, “The Ghost Writer” would probably be among the least shocking.

But given all the controversy involving Roman Polanski this year, it’s still a tough selection bound to kick up some unfortunate rhetoric.  I wrote this back in November:

“It has the name of high-prestige director on its masthead who has been rewarded by the Academy in the past decade (2002 for “The Pianist”).  It has critical support; both movies received identical BFCA scores of 81.  It is an audience-pleasing thriller that keeps you closely tied into the action until the conclusion.

But unlike “Shutter Island,” there is an aura of controversy surrounding “The Ghost Writer.”  Timed almost simultaneously with the movie’s stateside release was Roman Polanski’s arrest overseas for the statutory rape he fled the United States for decades ago.  The director instantly became a topic of heated conversation.  Should he face justice, or be pardoned after all these years?  No matter what you think, the debate put Polanski into a very present mainstream consciousness.”

Most people, when I polled, indicated that they think Polanski is ultimately too controversial a figure to receive a nomination.  60% said they did not expect the movie to be nominated, while 40% said they thought it would make the cut.  It would probably be in my #13 or #14 in the standings for Best Picture if I ranked that low – not entirely out of the question, but not incredibly likely.

“Frankie & Alice” Poll Results

17 01 2011

Have you seen “Frankie & Alice?”

Don’t worry, unless you live in Los Angeles or New York, you probably haven’t.  No, it didn’t bomb that badly – it hasn’t even opened for normal moviegoers yet!  You’ll have to wait until February 4 for that honor, and probably even longer depending upon where you live.

The movie’s only real chance is in Best Actress for star Halle Berry, who has basically been pushing the movie by her own money and might.  She did manage to score a Golden Globe nomination, and that means there still could be a chance that she sneaks into the Oscar five.

Here are some of the points I brought up for her chances back before the race officially began:

“As The Los Angeles Times put it, “for the first time since the 73rd Oscars 10 years ago, there will be no black nominees in any of the acting categories in the February ceremony.”  Who better than to prove that statement made in September wrong than Halle Berry, the first African-American actress to win Best Actress.  But ever since that tearful speech, things haven’t been going to well for Berry as she fell into the “Best Actress Curse” rut that has consumed so many worthy actresses.

Since 2001, Berry has been a Bond girl in “Die Another Day,” the movie so dreadful it caused the series to reboot, the notorious feline in “Catwoman,” which won her a not-so-coveted Razzie, and the star of two other movies scoring in the 10% fresh range on Rotten Tomatoes.  Her only movie to be certified fresh since “Monster’s Ball” won her the trophy was “X-Men 2.”  Clearly Berry has strayed far away from Oscar territory (and her 2007 attempt, “Things We Lost in the Fire,” got her nowhere) … like the prodigal son, they could be willing to welcome her back with open arms.”

But now, she’s a longshot at best, and Berry hasn’t posed enough of a threat to have an Oscar season storyline to boost her chances.  When I polled the readership, the two voters were split on whether she would once again be nominated for an Oscar.  While I don’t write off a nomination entirely, something tells me that the Globes are where this train stops.

“Country Strong” Poll Results

13 01 2011

Gwyneth Paltrow gets to host “SNL” this weekend, and once that’s over, talk around “Country Strong” will die forever.  It has put up lackluster numbers at the box office, only grossing $7.5 million in its opening weekend.  Surprisingly, Screen Gems chose to open it in less than 1,500 theaters, something that drove down numbers.

The reviews have been pretty poor, too, and I’m no exception.  Last week, I wrote:

“Unintentionally hilarious … it’s ridiculously melodramatic and populated with four stock characters who go through alarmingly little growth throughout the movie.  [There’s] no reason to care …”

It seemed like a good idea for Paltrow to be in contention for Best Actress given that rehabbed characters often make for flashy performances.  You all seemed to think bite the bait as well judging by the poll results.  3 voters thought Paltrow could get nominated, while only one detractor thought she wouldn’t.  If the I‘s have it, I’ll eat my hat in two weeks.

“How Do You Know” Poll Results

4 01 2011

We all make dumb predictions; it happens to everyone.  I called picking “How Do You Know” as one of my 10 predicted Best Picture nominees back in November one of my 10 dumbest of the year in my “10 for ’10” series.

Here’s how I stacked up the movie in my Oscar Moment back in November:

“I think comedy has some unfinished business with the Academy, and ‘How Do You Know’ could provide that perfect mixture of comedy and drama to score big with the voters.”

Well, the 36% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes didn’t do much for it, nor did the box office, which will struggle to top $30 million.  For a movie that cost over $100 million to make, this is not good.  The domestic grosses will be able to cover salaries for Reese Witherspoon ($15 million), Jack Nicholson ($12 million), and Paul Rudd ($3 million).

People didn’t think this could take a road worse than “Spanglish,” which made modest box office returns (about $55 million adjusted) in the same timeframe but no awards headway.  With less money in the bank and not even a Golden Globe nomination to its name, it appears that the only recognition “How Do You Know” will receive is going to

“Love & Other Drugs” Poll Results

3 01 2011

If these two without clothes on can’t sell, do you need any more proof that the Internet has oversaturated the market?

Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, two young and attractive starlets, couldn’t power “Love & Other Drugs” to box office success.  The movie will cap off its run in a week or so here with a little over $31 million in the bank.  It cost $30 million to make.  Phew.  Fox can breathe.  (They had “Avatar” to save them last year.)

But the real number to talk about is 49%, its approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  The number was even lower from the top critics, who only deemed it fresh 34% of the time.  Obviously, for a movie to get nominated for Best Picture even in this era, that’s really not going to cut it.  Heck, it didn’t even cut it for the HFPA, who gave Golden Globe nominations to “The Tourist” (10% approval from top critics) and “Burlesque” (27% approval from top critics).  But clearly quality wasn’t very important to them this year.

Gyllenhaal and Hathaway were both nominated for Globes for their performances, and I’d say it wouldn’t be too far-fetched for Gyllenhaal to win.  As for Hathaway, there’s some nobody named Annette Bening who she’s up against that I heard might win.

Back in my Oscar Moment when it was still an outside chance for Best Picture, I asked if “Love & Other Drugs” would go beyond the Golden Globes.  The only voter said no, and kudos to them for having obvious foresight.  But hey, it’s always worth a shot for me with the Oscar Moment column.  God forbid I were to miss a Best Picture nominee in my first full year of forecasting…

“Somewhere” Poll Results

2 01 2011

I still haven’t the slightest clue as to when I’ll be able to see “Somewhere” as no date has been announced for its Houston release.  But I’m not in any rush to see it as it is a Sofia Coppola movie (and I wasn’t exactly fond of her Academy Award-winning “Lost in Translation“) and it appears to have fizzled on the awards scene.  Heck, it didn’t even make Quentin Tarantino’s top 20 – and he voted it the best film at the Venice Film Festival.

I was skeptical from the beginning as I stated in my Oscar Moment way back in September (when “Never Let Me Go” still looked like a contender and critics were two months away from seeing “True Grit“).  And now it appears that the one person who voted this wouldn’t have a shot at Best Picture is going to be right.

As if you need someone to tell you that.

“True Grit” Poll Results

22 12 2010

“True Grit” opens today in theaters nationwide to what looks like strong box office prospects and a strong critical support, clocking in at an impressive 97% fresh over at Rotten Tomatoes.  But the Oscars are an entirely different game; how will it fare there?

If you read my latest set of predictions that I issued on Friday (which you probably didn’t, so GO READ THEM NOW PLEASE), you would have seen that the movie occupies the ninth slot on my ten Best Picture nominees.  I wrote about it and “127 Hours” this:

Slipping this week are “True Grit” and “127 Hours,” neither of which found much love from the Golden Globes.  The former was completely shut out while the latter received three nominations but not for Best Picture or Director.  The one-man show was unlikely to score a SAG nomination apart from Franco, but “True Grit” missed big by not receiving a Best Ensemble nomination given its star-studded cast.  They did manage to score with the BFCA, both receiving a nomination for Best Picture.  ”True Grit” received 11 total nominations from the group while “127 Hours” scored an impressive 8.  Neither look very strong at this stage, and if there are going to be any surprises on nomination morning, it could come at the expense of these two movies.

Nonetheless, that didn’t dismay any of the voters in my poll on the Oscar chances of “True Grit” that I attached to my Oscar Moment featuring the film.  When asked whether the movie would be nominated for Bet Picture, very single voter replied “Yes, this will make a big run at Best Picture.”  Other options included “Yes, but just because it’s the Coen Brothers,” “No, it might squeak out a couple of nominations,” and “No, this will be a nonentity.”

My pick at the moment would be “Yes, but just because it’s the Coen Brothers.”  While there is some love out there for the movie, it just doesn’t have the buzz for a big run at Best Picture.  Thanks to the 10, it seems safe.  But that’s the funny thing about the Oscars – as soon as we think something is safe, often the biggest surprises come.

“Alice in Wonderland” Poll Results

21 12 2010

Best Picture nominee “Alice in Wonderland.” Only at the Golden Globes, right?  But could it happen at the Oscars?

As a major dark horse, it could happen. I think the nomination for “The Blind Side” last year was just a perfect storm of events – the money, the publicity, the truth, and the heart. But what if it was just the money after all? What if Academy voters slipped in “The Blind Side” just to balance out a movie like “An Education” which hadn’t made $10 million?

It’s likely that “127 Hours” will barely clear that same mark, and what better than the second-highest grossing movie of the year to cancel it out? (I’m only playing devil’s advocate, of course).

I don’t think this will actually happen, and judging by the poll, you don’t either. 3 out of the 4 voters in the poll said they didn’t think “Alice in Wonderland” had a shot at a Best Picture nomination.  One brave voter dared to say it would. Good luck with that prediction, and I pray to a high power that you are wrong at the sake of the Academy’s credibility as a voting organization.