“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.