Awards Archive for September, 2010

Gurus o’ Gold – A Pre-Toronto Look At The 2010/11 Field

Welcome to the first Gurus gathering of this upcoming season.

It always seems a little silly to offer strong opinions before the Toronto International Film Festival has even begun. So we don’t. Consider these a gentle guide to what the buzz is, very early in the season.

We asked The Gurus to offer their 15 favorites to end up nominated for Best Picture come January. No ranking, No “sure things.” Just instinct and as much insight as is possible at this moment.

Last year, we did the same and the result was that The Gurus hit seven of the final ten in their Top Ten from this long distance. Two more were picked in the Top Sixteen. And the only film to get nominated that was nowhere to be found on this early list? The Blind Side. (Perhaps that explains the shock from the media when it got nominated… even after becoming a well-reviewed massive box office hit.) So maybe this early poll isn’t really all that silly .

Is there a stone unturned this year? Well, not Stone, which got a vote from Pete Howell. And not Tree of Life, which got 4 votes last year at this time… and just 3 votes this time around (2 of them from the same Gurus as last year).

This is not the look for the future of Gurus moving forward. But our team is designing a databased system that will launch when Gurus goes full-out in November. So, until then…

UPDATE, 9/7/10 – The last three Gurus have now chimed in.

The Participating Gurus
Anthony Breznican – USA Today
Greg Ellwood – Hitfix
Pete Hammond – Deadline Hollywood
Eugene Hernandez – indieWIRE
Pete Howell – Toronto Star
Dave Karger – Entertainment Weekly
Mark Olsen – LA Times
David Poland – Movie City News
Steve Pond – The Wrap
Sean Smith – Entertainment Weekly
Sasha Stone – Awards Daily
Kris Tapley – In Contention
Anne Thompson -indieWIRE
Susan Wloszczyna – USA Today

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26 Weeks To Oscar: The Year Of… Patience

The awards season has gotten off to a rousing “uh, okay.”

Yeah, the festival season is upon us and there is a lot of drool dripping over some of these films – including my own happy salivations – but it is easy to mistake strong players using the fests to launch their long, complex, and expensive awards plans and the notion that festival excitement is, in and of itself, an answer. It’s not… at least, not to the positive.

Films will die at VeniTelluRonto™, but even the most robust winners/survivors cannot assume they’re set. Some actors will lock in, probably… but not Picture. Two of last year’s ten nominees premiered at one of these festivals in the year they were released. (The Hurt Locker is the third… which was in Toronto in 2008… and almost failed to sell.) Slumdog was the only one of the five the year before. 2007 saw 4 of 5. But that was the exception that reminds us of the rule. In 2006… 1 of 5.

I’m not saying that these festivals are not a great tool for movie marketers to grab a great deal of attention. (And the Oscar race is a marketing event first and an artistic event second, make no mistake.) And who knows? There are those who feel that TIFF 2010 will have more than half the nominees in its theaters. No reason it can’t be the case. But again… it’s the start of a marathon, not a sprint where the first winners get automatic byes.

There are plenty of players in the game for Oscar 2010, but for the first time in a very long time, there are virtually no “you can lock that in from months away” candidates sitting there. You have Eastwood and you have The Coens and Sony over the moon about Fincher’s The Social Network. After that, even amongst pedigree players, it is hard for anyone to get a realistic temperature out there.

In the immortal words of Nancy Meyers, something’s gotta give. But what?

Danny Boyle has his golden statue and a movie that’s a thriller and a crowd pleaser… but is it Oscar? Mike Leigh is always a threat, but one never knows which film will leap up. Jim Brooks has batted .600 overall, with 3 of his first four films getting BP nods… but it’s been 13 years and a flop since he went to The Carpet.

The next group is pretty muscular, but still, a bit aspirational. Ed Zwick is always around The Money, so maybe a lighter film will get him to gold. Julian Schnabel hasn’t made a movie that didn’t get serious awards interest, but Miral may or may not be “good for The Jews.” Julie Taymor may get Shakespeare back in the game for the first time since Ken Branagh. (You remember Ken… director of Thor… right?) Randall Wallace has been to the dance, but is his horse movie too Disney to be embraced as seriously as it will need to be?

David O. Russell is one of the most storied young directors… but has never been nominated… is The Fighter his The Wrestler? And what of young Aronofsky? Is his thriller too thrilling for The Senior Circuit? Also challenging voters with fresh intensity are Mark Romanek, Anton Corbjin, and Ben Affleck (back, this time starring in his sophomore, somewhat more conventional but still very 70s, directorial effort).

Right in what seems like The Oscar Pocket are Tony Goldwyn with a period overcoming-the-odds flick, Calendar Guy Nigel Cole with a warmer Norma Rae, Tom Hooper segueing from John Adams and the well-liked but unrewarded The Damned United to something more Queen-erific, and Roger Michell doing another turn on classic Jim Brooks.

And the Really Young Set… or at least, young to The Academy: Cholodenko, Boden/Fleck, Cianfrance, and Schneider. All in play for real… but still a bit of a mystery to the voters, who, in reality, are not cineastes, but industry pros, as given to whims as any other large group.

Debra Granik is a remarkable director and undeniably a starmaker, but Roadside Attractions needs to leap into the Oscar game with both feet is her Winter’s Bone is to get out of summer and take a firm position in the awards season. RA also picked up the Bardem-starrer from Alejandro Gonzalez-Inarritu, making them The New Awards Player in town. They have earned a taste for all this, after winning Oscar last year for Best Doc. They just picked up the new Ondi Timoner doc, hoping for a repeat. Roadside certainly doesn’t want to follow too closely in the footsteps of Sidney Kimmel and Bob Yari, as both men have, ahem, narrowed their film interests since they were seen chasing awards. They don’t have the support of horny vampires, a la Summit. But in the land of 10 Best Picture nominees and extremely strong candidates for Actor & Actress, it may be their time.

And who has the fullest stable of contenders? Harvey Weinstein… natch. But damned if I know whether he has the cash, staff, and will to grab what, from a distance, could easily be 2 BP slots out of 10.

Of course, there are the pictures that have already done their big theatrical releases: Toy Story 3, Inception, and Shutter Island. Plus we’ll see pushes from Alice in Wonderland and How To Train Your Dragon.

Floating out there are a new Peter Weir film (aka, the Scott Rudin movie that has no distribution) and a first from screenwriting Oscar winner William Monahan. But who wants to jump onto a moving train to get them into the race in the next 3 months?

And Tyler Perry’s presence is now official. And if he doesn’t get some love, Academy members could just find themselves Madeaed. Watch out.

Does any of this make you feel more settled about what happens next?

Thing is… it will turn into some solids as we move forward. It always does. And those sure bets are often not as sure as we all like to think. But right now, there is a lot more passionate churning about every category but Best Picture. And I have to say… kinda cool for a change.

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“Well, actually, of that whole group that I call the post-60s anti-authority auteurs, a lot of them came from television. Peckinpah’s the only one whose television work represents his feature work. I mean, like the only one. Mark Rydell can direct a really good episode of ‘Gunsmoke’ and Michael Ritchie can direct a really good episode of ‘The Big Valley,’ but they don’t necessarily look like The Candidate. But Peckinpah’s stuff, even the scripts he wrote that he didn’t even direct, have a Peckinpah feel – the way I think there’s a Corbucci West – suggest a Peckinpah West. That even in his random episodes that he wrote for ‘Gunsmoke’ – it’s right there.”
~ Quentin Tarantino

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima