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10. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner proved to be the dream team in this surprisingly entertaining franchise reboot. Also notable is director Brad Bird’s seamless leap from Pixar to live action. He created a taught, fast-paced thriller that exemplifies what going to the movies is all about.
Mixing human drama and gentle comedy, Beginners is a simple but effective story about family and love. The film is loosely based on director Mike Mills’ own experience with his father, and his closeness to the material only strengthens this heartfelt story.
8. Meek’s Cutoff
Director Kelly Reichardt deserves a lot of credit for turning a plotless 2-hour movie about a group of wandering pioneers into one of the year’s more compelling films. Reichardt’s stark visual style suits the subject matter perfectly, and subtle, ambiguous performances only strengthen the material.
7. Win Win
Paul Giamatti shines as a self-serving wrestling coach who takes a child prodigy under his wing in Win Win. It’s a quiet film, but with a stellar cast and a heartfelt story, it sticks with you more than you might think. In some ways it is a standard “indie” film, but without the pretentions that hinder some similar projects.
6. The Ides of March
Clooney directs a high-quality political thriller with a cast that most filmmakers could only dream of. Thankfully, with such a juicy story, he departs from his typically dry directorial style in favour a more popcorn-friendly flick full of drama, suspense, and plot twists.
5. Daydream Nation
Kat Dennings and Reece Thompson serve as very likeable leads in this quirky coming-of-age drama. The film is shot in an appropriately moody style, perfectly encapsulating the overboard misfit teen angst. Daydream Nation is simultaneously funny, moving, and just a little strange.
Bridesmaids says some nice thing about female friendships, but mostly, it’s just hilarious. Kristen Wiig proves that she deserves many more leading roles, and the supporting cast also gets to shine. With one laugh-out-loud scene after another, it’s the funniest film of the year.
3. The Descendants
The Descendants is a moving story about family and change, set against the gorgeous backdrop of the Hawaiian countryside. George Clooney and Shailene Woodley make for an appealing father/daughter duo, and director Alexander Payne deftly mixes heartfelt drama with small bouts of comedy.
2. Midnight in Paris
If you’ve ever wished to live in a different era, Woody Allen’s great Midnight in Paris will probably ring true for you. It’s a film that celebrates art, history, and the need for individuality, all told through Allen’s sharp, eloquent point of view. It’s also Owen Wilson’s best performance to date.
1. Super 8
Paying homage to the films of Spielberg (who is a producer here), J.J. Abrams crafted a hugely likeable sci-fi adventure with Super 8. Led by a cast of charming and distinct kids, this monster movie is exciting, fun, and everything that movies should be.
In just a few short days, we’ve seen the Broadcast Film Critics Association (Critics Choice), the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (the Golden Globes) announce their nominees. These are widely considered to be the three biggest precursors to the Oscars, and they’re often very telling as to who will eventually be nominated. I did a little number-crunching and came up with some statistics that might help us figure out who’s getting an Oscar nomination, and who’s going to be left out in the cold. (I’m getting all Moneyball on this shit now.)
Locked: Clooney, DuJardin, Pitt
Very Likely: DiCaprio. He got all three major precursors, and in the past four years, only three actors have received that honour and then missed out on the Oscar nomination (Mila Kunis last year, and Ryan Gosling and Angelina Jolie in 2007).
The Rest: With Birchir getting a surprise SAG nom (but still being a longshot for an Oscar nom), it leaves things a bit open. The most likely pick in Fassbender in Shame, who hit 2 out of 3 precursors (which usually equals an Oscar nomination), but I still wouldn’t completely discount Oldman, who could pull off the all-or-nothing slot this year (in the past four years, there has been at least one actor to receive an Oscar nomination with no support from the three major precursors). Gosling is probably stretched too thin, since he has three nominations for three separate performances, and will likely suffer from vote-splitting.
Locked: Davis, Streep, Williams
Very Likely: Swinton
The Rest: As for the fifth spot, it seems to be between Close and Theron. My money is on Close, who got the SAG nom. Each year (on average) only 2-3 of the acting nominees get in without a SAG nomination, which really hurts Theron’s chances. Olsen is out (in the past four years, no actor has gotten an Oscar nomination with only a BFCA nod to their name), and Mara isn’t likely, either (Saoirse Ronan is the only actor in the past four years to get an Oscar nom with only a GG nom).
Best Supporting Actor
Very Likely: Branagh, Brooks (he’ll likely still be nominated even without the SAG, but his chances of winning seem to be shot. No Oscar winning performance of the past four years missed out on any of the three major precursors)
The Rest: This category is still a mess, which is great. There are two spots that are wide open, and while Nick Nolte looks like a likely bet, I also wouldn’t be surprised if he missed out. But what about that fifth spot? Hill seems like the safest bet, since he got a SAG and Golden Globe nomination. But what about Armie Hammer? He’s a more “serious” young actor than Jonah Hill, and the Academy sometimes likes to recognize up-and-comers. Hammer’s chances are dampened by only having the SAG nomination to his name, though. In the past four years, only Ruby Dee and John Hawkes got into the Oscar line-ups with just a SAG nomination to their name, and Hammer is hardly the established actor that those two are. Mortensen’s a longshot, and Oswalt and Serkis are almost non-factors at this point. Von Sydow could slip in, but he has no momentum at this point, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’s buzz seems to be all but dead (but that might just be because it hasn’t screened much yet?)
Best Supporting Actress
Very Likely: Bejo (I could see her pulling a Mila Kunis and missing out entirely), Chastain, Woodley (hurt by the SAG snub, could go the Andrew Garfield route?)
The Rest: In all likelihood, there is one spot left. And in all likelihood, either McCarthy or McTeer will snag it. My money is tentatively on McTeer at this point (it’s hard to ignore the SAG/Globe one-two punch), but it’s definitely not set in stone. Redgrave is also a possible spoiler, seeing as the same high-profile-actor/no-profile-movie thing worked for Javier Bardem last year and Tommy Lee Jones in 2007. Mulligan is out (BFCA only = no Oscar nomination), and Bullock’s is extremely unlikely.
A Few More Oscar Stats
- Statistically speaking, you’re more likely to get an Oscar nomination with NO pre-cursor support than with only one of the three. In the past for years, Javier Bardem, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Laura Linney, and Tommy Lee Jones all received an Oscar nomination despite missing out on the three major precursors. Only John Hawkes, Ruby Dee, and Saoirse Ronan snagged an Oscar nomination after receiving support from one of the three precursors.
- While Kunis, Gosling, and Jolie missed out on an Oscar nomination after getting support from all three precursors, no actor in the past four years has received ONLY a SAG and a Golden Globe nomination and then went on to snubbed by the Oscars. This bodes extremely well for Glenn Close, Jonah Hill, and Janet McTeer, who were all somewhat on the fringes of their categories before yesterday’s announcement. Now that they have a SAG and a Globe nomination, one would think that their Oscar nomination is secure?
- Fassbender, Gosling, Theron, Brooks, Nolte, McCarthy, and Woodley are much more vulnerable. While they have 2/3 precursors, they either missed out on the SAG or the Golden Globe nomination. Except for 2008 (where no one with 2/3 or better missed out on an Oscar nomination), there are at least two actors every year who miss out on the Oscar nom with 2/3 precursors. There has to be at least two who miss out this year (three, if you count Gosling precursor nominations for multiple films), just based on the way the precursors have played out.
The 2012 Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning, and, as always, there were a few surprises in the list of nominees. My five biggest surprises:
- The quality of the nominees. No Johnny Depp in The Rum Diary, no Julia Roberts in Larry Crowne. Has the Hollywood Foreign Press finally dropped their star-worshipping tendencies? Maybe they couldn’t take all the flak they got last year with the now-infamous multiple nominations for The
Tourist. Or maybe there were just better films to fill the Comedy categories this year. Either way, this is a really deserving group of nominees, overall.
- The Ides of March for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. Clooney’s pic has received no love this awards season, yet the Hollywood Foreign Press recognized the film, Clooney’s direction, and its leading actor. Perhaps this is where the HFPA’s penchant for superstars comes into play. I would’ve thought that Clooney in Best Supporting Actor would have been its best chances at the Globes, but clearly the HFPA isn’t messing around. Also, what does this mean for Ryan Gosling? I had predicted him for Drive and Crazy Stupid Love (which he also got a nomination for), and this just proves that Gosling is all over this awards season, yet probably won’t be nominated for an Oscar.
- Viggo Mortensen for Best Supporting Actor. A Dangerous Method is another film that’s been ignored by the awards groups so far. If anything, I would’ve thought that the film’s leading lady, Keira Knightley, would have been recognized by the Globes, rather than the less-famous Mortensen in the already packed supporting category.
- No Melissa McCarthy. I thought that this was the one awards group that would definitely recognize McCarthy, but she was completely snubbed in the Best Supporting Actress category (but somehow got a SAG and Critics Choice nomination!) I still think she’ll be nominated for an Oscar, but this definitely made the Best Supporting Actress race a little more complicated (which is fun).
- Both Carnage ladies in Comedy Actress. Maybe I should have seen this coming, since Winslet and Foster and both big stars, but I wasn’t expected them both to get in. Along with Theron, Wiig, and Williams, this is a really strong category.
Holy cow, it’s been a busy couple days in Oscarland. Since the Golden Globe nominations are announced tomorrow (!), I figured I’d run down my predictions for the major film categories. DISCLAIMER: They will probably all be wrong.
Best Picture (Drama)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Best Picture (Comedy)
Midnight in Paris
My Week With Marilyn
Alt: The Muppets
Best Actor (Drama)
George Clooney, The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Ryan Gosling, Drive
Gary Oldman, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Alt: Michael Fassbender, Shame
Best Actor (Comedy)
Johnny Depp, The Rum Diary
Robert Downey Jr., Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Jean DuJardin, The Artist
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50
Ryan Gosling, Crazy Stupid Love
Alt: Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris
Best Actress (Drama)
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Alt: Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Best Actress (Comedy)
Julia Roberts, Larry Crowne
Charlize Theron, Young Adult
Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
Kate Winslet, Carnage
Alt: Cameron Diaz, Bad Teacher
Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Albert Brooks, Drive
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Alt: Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close or Armie Hammer, J. Edgar
Best Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Alt: Berenice Bejo, The Artist or Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus
The SAG Award nominees were announced this morning, and I found the selected group to be pretty interesting. There were a couple surprise nominations, and also a whole bunch of folks who got left out in the cold. Here’s a look at which actors benefitted from SAG nominations, and who was hurt by snubs.
10 Who Were Helped
1. Glenn Close
Without this nomination, Close would have been all but out of the race. She just became a contender again.
2. Leonardo DiCaprio
DiCaprio’s film may have been ravaged by the critics, but SAG nominating him (and his co-star) shows that there is still a lot of support for him. The Academy loves big, glitzy performances, so he could definitely still make it in. He’s two for two with BFCA (Critics Choice) and SAG now, which is more than a lot of actors can say this year.
3. Melissa McCarthy
She’s got the Critic’s Choice nom under her belt already, and she’s likely to get a Golden Globe nomination, too. That would mean that McCarthy hit all three major precursors, and that almost always equals an Oscar nomination.
4. Nick Nolte
Branagh, Plummer, and Nolte are the only three actors who have hit with BFCA and SAG. Nolte’s buzz refuses to die down. This is the kind of performance that could do well at the Globes, and if he gets that nomination, too, that could put him in a very good position.
5. Tilda Swinton
NBR, BFCA, and now SAG? Swinton is a quiet contender who could easily sneak in for an Oscar nomination (especially with Olsen’s chances floundering).
6. Berenice Bejo
She’s another one who hit the BFCA, and now SAG. She’s definitely becoming a stronger and stronger contender.
7. Jonah Hill
Hill has been a quiet, fairly steady presence during this awards season. He’s still a bit of a longshot for an Oscar nom, but SAG will really help his chances.
8. Armie Hammer
Hey, Armie Hammer! You’re back! I threw my support behind him this fall, and just when I thought he was out, he goes and gets a SAG nomination. I don’t know if this will be enough, but Best Supporting Actor is such a weird category this year, you never know.
9. Janet McTeer
This is helpful to McTeer, who missed out on the Critics Choice nom. The fact that her co-star is getting more support will also help bring attention to McTeer.
10. Demian Birchir
In all likelihood, this won’t evolve into an Oscar nomination (a la Noomi Rapace last year). But it’s interesting to bring another contender into the race, however slim his chances may be.
12 Who Were Hurt
1. Elizabeth Olsen
People have been declaring that Olsen is out of the race for a while now (due to her lack of presence early in the Awards season). I had held out hope, but I think that this is the last nail in her coffin. She did get a Critics Choice nom, but her chances at a Golden Globe nod seem slim. This was a key nomination for her, and without it, I don’t see her getting recognized by the Academy.
2. Vanessa Regrave
People have been raving about Redgrave for a while now (The Film Experience even lists her as a “lock” for the Supporting Actress category). But so far, things haven’t really been panning out for her this awards season. Without the BFCA or the SAG nom, her chances don’t seem good. There’s still the Globes, but will they care about Coriolanus? I’m not counting her out yet, though, since Laura Linney in 2007 and Maggie Gyllenhaal in 2008 prove that it’s possible to score an Oscar nom with none of the three major precursors.
3. Michael Fassbender
Fassbender has been a critical darling since Shame premiered at the Venice Film Festival (where he won the Best Actor award), but his film may be too dark and racy to get mainstream awards attention. He did get the BFCA nom, but his chances with the Academy are even shakier after this SAG snub.
4. Gary Oldman
Oldman’s support has been inconsistent this awards season. And that just continues with this snub. Maybe he’s not as safe as many think?
5. Carey Mulligan
Like her co-star, Mulligan needed this nomination to become a serious contender. I don’t think she’s getting in.
6. Shailene Woodley
Woodley is definitely not out of the race because of this, but this snub worries me a little, because it reminds me of what happens to Andrew Garfield last year. They’re young, supporting players in a big Oscar movie. Like Woodley, Garfield received a lot of good reviews and early support. He even got a Golden Globe nomination (which I imagine Woodley will, too). But he missed out on the SAG nom, and, eventually, the Oscar. Is it a case where audiences really like them and their performance, and just want them to be nominated?
7. Albert Brooks
This was a really surprising snub, especially considering that I just talked about Brooks’ “reign” this awards season. I don’t think it’ll hurt him too much, but this just shows that he might not be the impenetrable contender that he was starting to look like. Also, it might bode not-so-well for his chances at actually winning the Oscar.
8. Charlize Theron
Theron’s been on the cusp of the Best Actress race for a while now, and this hurts her chances at getting in. Swinton is starting to look like a more viable contender right now.
9. Max Von Sydow
Von Sydow has been absent so far, but in a lot of cases, I don’t think his film had been screened for voting groups. (Anyone know if it was screened for SAG?) He’s a big question mark at this time, but it’s starting to get late for him to enter the race.
10. Patton Oswalt
The Critics Choice nom was huge for Oswalt, but this is definitely a setback. The Golden Globes will be telling for him.
11. Michael Shannon
This just cements that Michael Shannon is not going to get an Oscar nomination, no matter how much individual critics like him.
12. Andy Serkis
Serkis is a wildcard, and I don’t think he will get an Oscar nomination. This snub certainly doesn’t help his chances.
Every year, the major movie critics groups in North America release their own awards of sorts in the months leading up to the Oscars. Since New York and L.A. are the major film cities, their critics groups get the most attention. But did you know that Indiana has a critics group? Are you eagerly anticipating which performances the North Texas critics will honour this year?
My point is that critics groups have very little impact on the eventual Oscar nominees. Critics groups consist of a relatively small group of people who often feel very passionately about certain films (those Indiana critics really liked Win Win, for example). It’s unwise to make rash proclamations about certain contenders just because they did/did not get recognized by a certain group. However, you can find patterns in these precursor awards that can be very telling. If the same performances keep getting mentioned over and over again by the critics, then they’re certainly worth considering. The same goes for opposite cases. On the eve of the SAG nominations, here’s a look at a few surprising patterns that I’ve noticed in this year’s critics precursors.
Six Curious Cases of the 2011 Awards Season (so far)
1. The reign of Albert Brooks (and Christopher Plummer, somewhat)
Most people considered Brooks a strong contender for an Oscar nomination after the release of Drive. However, he’s surprisingly all but swept the early precursor awards. Starting with the New York film critics, Brooks has received recognition from nearly every group. In the few cases where he’s lost out, it’s been to fellow veteran Christopher Plummer. Is Best Supporting Actor turning into a two-man race?
2. Where is Glenn Close?
Widely thought to be a frontrunner in the Best Actress race, Glenn Close has been unexpectedly absent all awards season. She did get a Satellite Award nomination, but those are notoriously worthless. Even her co-star, Janet McTeer, has managed to drum up some buzz? So what happened with Glenn? That’s not to say that her chances are dead (and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her snag a SAG nom), but it’s not a great start.
3. So is Melissa McCarthy, like…happening?
There’s no way that Melissa McCarthy can get an Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids. No way. But then why does her name keep coming up? Why did I have to add her into my charts after she won too many critics awards to ignore? Stranger things have happened, after all (what’s up, Robert Downey Jr. in 2008?)
4. Critics like their Actors gloomy (and indie)
Shame and Take Shelter are two films that have flown under the public’s radar this fall, likely thanks to their small scale and bleak subject matter. But they certainly have caught the attention of critics, and their leading men (Michael Fassbender and Michael Shannon) and supporting ladies (Carey Mulligan and Jessica Chastain) have been all over the precursor awards. It’s hard to say how these films will play with the Academy. Michael Fassbender is becoming a stronger contender daily (especially thanks to DiCaprio’s fading chances), so maybe the indie films will represent, after all.
5. Leonardo DiCaprio: always the bridesmaid, never the bride
This should have been Leo’s year. We gave Kate Winslet an Oscar for her showy period piece, and J. Edgar was supposed be Leo’s The Reader, dammit! But now it’s looking like her might not even be nominated. I’m still hanging onto hope and leaving him in my predictions, but things aren’t looking good.
6. Branagh, Redgrave, Oldman, and Theron kinda-sorta impress
These respected actors have all scooped up nominations from the critics, but they also haven’t been the critical darlings that some expected. Their films aren’t going to get armfuls of Oscars, so they need all the support they can get. The bigger precursors (SAG, Golden Globes) can bring them back from the fringes of their categories.
Last Updated: January 22, 2012 (FINAL PREDICTIONS)
Red = virtually guaranteed a nomination
|1. Jane Eyre||2. Albert Nobbs||3. Hugo||4. My Week With Marilyn||5. The Help|
|Period costume dramas are the lifeblood of this category. This is a good one.||Well, it’s another costume drama. All of the apparent emphasis on clothing in the film could help.||It’s a visual feast, and the costumes are an important part of that.||Not totally sold on the costumes from the trailer, but it just seems like a natural choice.||Evocative of a specific time period. Part of a very popular film.|
Other Possibilities: War Horse, W.E., The Tree of Life, J. Edgar, The Iron Lady, A Dangerous Method
This is always a difficult category to predict, and there is often at least one WTF nomination that no one expects. For all three films nominated in this category last year (The Wolfman, Barney’s Version, and The Way Back), it was their sole nomination. But alas, here is my best effort.
|1. J. Edgar||2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2||3. Green Lantern|
|Movies that require their characters to age drastically often (but not always) do well here.||It’s the series last hurrah, and they’ve always been strong with make-up.||Peter Sarsgaard looks pretty freaky. And this category isn’t afraid of dud films (see: Norbit).|
Other Possibilities: TONS. A Dangerous Method, My Week With Marilyn, The Iron Lady, X-Men: First Class, Albert Nobbs, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, etc, etc.
For the past while, I’ve been asking in the poll what film you think will win Best Picture at the Oscars next year. After over 200 votes, the public has spoken, and the winner is…
After a slow start in the voting The Artist ended up stealing 26% of the votes. The film has steadily gained buzz, so it’s not too surprising to see it end up on top. I think it’s definitely a strong Best Picture contender. Here are the full results:
The Artist – 26%
Other – 14%
The Descendants – 11.3%
J. Edgar – 10.5%
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – 9.5%
War Horse – 9.5%
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – 6.5%
Moneyball – 5.5%
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – 5%
The Ides of March – 2%
While The Artist and The Descendants gained a lot of traction later on in the poll, J. Edgar had a strong start, but died down drastically after the poor critical response.
For those who are curious where the “Other” votes fell, here’s a vote breakdown:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – 13 votes (really?)
The Help – 6 votes
Drive – 4 votes
50/50, Coriolanus, My Week With Marilyn, Super 8, Tin Tin, Transformers 3 (touché), The Tree of Life, Warrior, Young Adult – 1 vote apiece
Now that it’s December, I’ve decided to finally change the poll question. This week/month, I want to know what you think of Jessica Chastain’s Oscar prospects. She was one of the breakout actresses of the year, and Chastain has three performances that are gaining Oscar buzz (The Help, The Tree of Life, and Take Shelter). But do you think she’ll cancel herself out because of vote splitting? The New York Film Critics Circle honoured her for all three performances, but of course the Academy doesn’t work like that. One person cannot be nominated multiple times in the same category.
So, what do you think? Will she make the cut? Cast your vote in the side bar!