My favorite time of the year has finally come. It’s the time when I can finally take a break from reporting on other individuals and groups choices for best of the year and actually focus on my own. If any of you missed last year’s, here’s a link to last year’s big list. Over the next week, leading up to the Oscars, I’ll be writing a series of posts that will encompass my feelings on the 2011 year in films. I’ll start things out with my Top Ten List, featured here, followed by two posts chronicling the nominations and winners of the 2nd Annual Edgy Awards. Hopefully, I can maintain concentration and get all of this done before the entire awards season comes to a head.
To be quite honest, this is probably my least favored year of films in terms of quality in at least a decade. I’m not sure what exactly went wrong or rubbed me the wrong way, but there was something lacking in the overall caliber of releases. Disappointing to say the least. Perhaps, it’s not even the overall batch of films, but rather some favorites of the film critic and connoisseur community just did not register in my book. Yet, even with the diminished standard, I still feel compelled to give a shout out of recognition to the films that were more than respectable. The following seven films, listed alphabetically, are some examples of damn fine filmmaking, but had just a few too many flaws that kept them out the final ten.
Here we go. The runners-up are as follows:
Written and Directed by
A delightful and sometimes intriguing romp into the throwback world of silent filmmaking, highlighted by some great design qualities and a stellar lead performance by Jean Dujardin. Yet, the film really suffers from having…well…nothing really important to say or leave us with.
The time is here. Unbelievable. I woke up this morning with such a sense of elation, pride and sheer terror. As I believe I had stated at this point, last January, I find this point in the race to be more nerve-racking and exciting than that fateful day in February. This is when, in my mind, the true winners are announced. I know it’s a savage cliche in this industry, but to be real, I truly believe that it is an honor just to be nominated. Especially when people like Harvey Weinstein exist in the world. If you are able to squeeze out a nomination without that “The Weinstein Company” in your opening credits, then I say “Bravo” to you, sir or madam. Besides, when you look at history, ninety percent of the time, it’s the films that don’t win that get remembered so much more. I’d say that those films are far better company to keep.
Well, I’ll take this time, beforehand, to address any sudden change or surge that has occurred since my last batch of nominations. The big one, indeed came after the announcement of the BAFTA nominations and “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” suddenly became a legitimate contender. Granted, I do not believe (though some seem to) that it will receive the same level of recognition (11 nominations. Whew.), but I am fully expecting it to pop up in a few categories. In fact, perhaps my biggest “out-on-a-limb” prediction is Gary Oldman snagging his first career mention. I mean in reality, who cares what the Globes say and the SAG nominations are from a random sampling, so who knows how many of them have even heard of Oldman or understand his plight. I believe that, at this point, members of the Academy’s acting branch know that it’s about damn time to give this legendary actor his due. Plus, the British contingent of the Academy may help push him over the edge.
If you had asked any prognosticator two months ago if they believed that, on the day before nominations, “War Horse” would be on the bubble, they’d have said the chances were slim. Yet, here we are. If it hadn’t been for that Producers Guild nomination, which at this point, almost seems strange, this film would be considered completely out of contention. Lacking any kind of mention from the DGA, the SAG, the WGA or the ASC, the film’s chances have dropped through the floor. Many believe that “Bridesmaids” has a better chance, at this point.
Speaking of “Bridesmaids,” I’ll address its status along with a few other “on-the-bubble” films. Many are hoping and believing that this will be the first Judd Apatow production to make the shortlist. Yet, despite all of its guild nominations, I think it will fail to make the cut. The Academy’s balloting procedures, which require a large number of #1 votes, will prevent it. Now it seems that “The Tree of Life” should be able to excel by those standards, due to the fervent passion of its followers, However, I believe that this film has seen its day with the critics, but will not register as well with the industry. The fate of “Drive” will follow along a similar path, despite a push from the BAFTAs. In a world where there was still an assured number of ten nominees, one or all of these might sneak in, but not this year.
Well, on to those nomination predictions. Won’t be able to say that again until, well, the day after this year’s Oscars. Once again, these are ranked by chance of getting nominated. If I put a film or individual at the number one spot, that does not necessarily mean I think it will win. That’s a whole different ballpark.
Here comes the part that’s hardest: double crossing my fingers. For someone in my position who has two loves, predicting the Oscars and loving films, this day is a double-edged sword. As much as I want my own favorites to somehow work their way into the categories, in many cases, I’m predicting against them. Therefore, no matter what happens, I’ll be feeling a twinge of sadness. But as Sasha Stone, one of the best analysts of the Oscar race and my personal idol says, “The trick is not minding.”
Here goes nothing:
1. “The Artist”
3. “The Descendants”
4. “The Help”
5. “Midnight in Paris”
6. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
8. “War Horse” (if there are eight)
9. “Bridesmaids” (if there are nine)
10. “The Tree of Life” (if there are ten)
Alt 1: “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”
Alt 2: “Drive”
You know how when watching the credits of a movie and the editor’s name is usually followed by the acronym “A.C.E.”? Why is that? I remember when I was a kid, I used to think it was some sort of self-designated achievement. Once they’ve been around in the industry long enough, they earn the right to call themselves an “ACE.” Well, the truth of what A.C.E. stands for isn’t far from that logic, though it isn’t exactly the same as what WWII fighter pilots saw it as.
The American Cinema Editors is the guild belonging to motion picture editors. While not to be confused with a dues-paying union, the ACE serves more as a society, inducting new members via a voting process based on their experience and skill. Each year, for the last fifty years, the guild has been hosting the Eddie Awards, awarding the best achievements in film editing for each year. While probably not its primary purpose, this award is very influential in each year’s Oscar race.
One of the most interesting facts about the Academy Awards involves feature film editing. In the last thirty years, no film has earned a victory for Best Picture of the Year without also gaining at least a nomination for Best Editing. Since the ACE’s nominations usually line up with it’s equivalent Oscar at least 4/5, this is as good of indicator of the what nominations will look like next week as you can get. In the case of these nominations, not a lot of surprises, being that all of the projected frontrunners have happened to show up here.
The nominees are:
BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (DRAMATIC)
“The Descendants” – Kevin Tent
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
“Hugo” – Thelma Schoonmaker
“Moneyball” – Christopher Tellefsen
“War Horse” – Michael Kahn
BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (MUSICAL or COMEDIC)
“The Artist” – Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
“Bridesmaids” William Kerr and Michael L. Sale
“Midnight in Paris” – Alisa Lepselter
“My Week with Marilyn” Michael Recht
“Young Adult” – Dana Glauberman
BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (ANIMATED)
“The Adventures of Tintin” – Michael Kahn
“Puss in Boots” – Eric Dapkewicz
“Rango” – Craig Wood
BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (DOCUMENTARY)
“Cave of Forgotten Dreams” – Joe Bini and Maya Hawk
“Freedom Riders” – Lewis Erskine and Aljernon Tunsil
“George Harrison: Living in the Material World” – David Tedeschi
The Dramatic category is all but exactly what we’d expected it to be. With the kind of bad guild luck that “War Horse” has been experiencing as of late, it’s a little more surprising that it has been able to achieve recognition, however, it’s really difficult to snub Michael Kahn for anything, these days. He really is a master craftsmen, having just received the ACE’s Lifetime Achievement Award the previous year.
As far as Musical/Comedy is concerned, “The Artist,” “Midnight in Paris” and “Bridesmaids” were all likely contenders in this category. One surprise is the absence of such popular comedies as “50/50” and “Win Win” which seem to have been doing well with both critics and industry types up to this point. If only the folks at the top could get their heads screwed on straight and realize that “My Week with Marilyn” is about as comedic as it is musical. It honestly shouldn’t be on either one of these lists, but should at least get it’s classification right.
What does this mean for Oscar? At this point, I would consider “The Artist” and “Hugo” to be locks for a Best Editing nomination. “The Artist” is simply a juggernaut at this point and respect and admiration for Thelma Schoonmaker’s craft is beyond reproach. Following these two would be “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” who’s editors took home the gold last year for “The Social Network,” and “Moneyball,” which is here perhaps completely off of quality and merit. A perfectly edited film.
For the fifth slot, odds are on either “War Horse” or “The Descendants.” The first definitely has the chops, but has lost an immense amount of steam in the last month. At the Golden Globes, the film was treated almost as an afterthought in the awards race. “The Descendants” is far from having anything that resembles showy or standout editing. Yet, probably well-aware of the thirty-year curse, Fox Searchlight has been trying desperately hard to campaign for the film’s editors in a last ditch effort not to fall victim to Oscar voodoo. In the end, there’s always the chance that an unforeseen contender might sneak in. “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” “The Ides of March” and “Drive” are superbly edited features and could easily find their way in much like “Blood Diamond,” “Children of Men” and “Cinderella Man” (none of which received ACE nominations) did in past years.
Only three primary guilds are left to release their nominations (the Costume Designers Guild, the Cinema Audio Society, and the Motion Picture Sound Editors). However, those organizations have not indicated as to when said announcements will take place. Stay up to date when they do at The Edge of the Frame.
I’m not going to spend any time discussing these but just let my predictions speak for themselves. But, if I could make one wish to the Awards Gods, please let “Moneyball” win for Best Adapted Screenplay. We all know it deserves it.
For the record, as much as I’d like to, I’m really not trying very hard on these. Feel free to use these as a useful guide, but honestly, who the hell knows what these crazy-ass critics are going to do here? Are they going to follow their hearts? Are they going to vote for what people want them to vote for? Or are they going to do what they love most: predict the Oscars?
Who cares? Don’t put any money on these.
George Clooney – “The Descendants”
r/u: Brad Pitt – “Moneyball”
Meryl Streep – “The Iron Lady”
r/u: Michelle Williams – “My Week With Marilyn”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Albert Brooks – “Drive”
r/u: Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Octavia Spencer – “The Help”
r/u: Melissa McCarthy – “Bridesmaids”
BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Shailene Woodley – “The Descendants”
r/u: Asa Butterfield – “Hugo”
BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
r/u: “The Artist”
Martin Scorsese – “Hugo”
r/u: Michel Hazanavicius – “The Artist”
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“The Artist” – Michel Hazanavicius
r/u: “Midnight in Paris” – Woody Allen
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“The Descendants” – Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
r/u: “Moneyball” – Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, Story by Stan Chervin
“The Tree of Life” – Emmanuel Lubezki
r/u: “Hugo” – Robert Richardson
BEST ART DIRECTION
“Hugo” – Production Designer: Dante Ferretti, Set Decorator: Francesca Lo Schiavo
r/u: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” – Production Designer: Stuart Craig, Set Decorator: Stephenie McMillan
“Hugo” – Thelma Schoonmaker
r/u: “The Artist” – Michel Hazanavicius and Anne-Sophie Bion
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
“The Artist” – Mark Bridges
r/u: “Hugo” – Sandy Powell
“The Iron Lady”
r/u: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
r/u: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part II”
r/u: “War Horse”
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
r/u: “The Skin I Live In”
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
r/u: “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”
“Pictures in My Head” – performed by Kermit and the Muppets/written by Jeannie Lurie, Aris Archontis and Chen Neeman – “The Muppets”
r/u: “The Living Proof” – performed by Mary J. Blige/written by Mary J. Blige, Thomas Newman and Harvey Mason, Jr. – “The Help”
“War Horse” – John Williams
r/u: “The Artist”
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
r/u: “The Adventures of Tintin”
BEST ACTION MOVIE
r/u: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
r/u: “Midnight in Paris”
These might be my final set of predictions before last call on January 23rd. There’s still a mess-load of guilds on their way and a box office that could still declare certain films winners (or losers), but I still feel pretty confident about these choices. Feel free to comment whether you agree or think I’m crazy.
One note: I have spent the entire year not predicting “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” while everyone else was jumping on the bandwagon. Now that the film has all but completely fallen off the radar (thanks to the utter panning of critics), I can’t help but feel a sense of unadulterated joy. Maybe I’ll be eating my words, later on, but for now…huzzah.
One more note: The Academy’s new method of having and indiscriminate amount of Best Picture nominees has made predicting that category nearly impossible. Therefore, I will still guess on the full ten and you can go ahead and judge by the numbers I provide as to what will make it if there are nine or eight, etc…
1. “The Artist”
3. “The Descendants”
4. “The Help”
5. “War Horse”
6. “Midnight in Paris”
8. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
10. “The Tree of Life”
Alt 1: “Drive”
Alt 2: “My Week with Marilyn”
And the guilds keep rolling in. Now, when it comes to Oscar, one cannot hold the WGA up to the same predictive powers as, say, the SAG or the PGA. This is not because the voting bodies don’t match up very well, because they do. It’s because of the Writers Guild annual list of discriminatory ineligibility standards. This year, a number of very promising scripts have been cast by the wayside. The potential frontrunner for Best Original Screenplay “The Artist” will not be found here, along with “Shame,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Beginners,” and “Margin Call” (among many others). In adapted, “Carnage,” “My Week with Marilyn,” “Drive” and “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” are SOL. I don’t mind saying every year that the WGA needs to stop shunning great writers just because they don’t pay their annual dues. With that, on to who does.
If you take a good look at that ineligible list above, you will notice that Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” is not there. That’s right, it missed out on this nom out of sheer lack of votes. This is the second guild in a row to snub the film, and yet, I still do not believe it’s Best Picture chances have been tarnished. What has, however, been taken down a notch is George Clooney’s “The Ides of March,” which got a bit of a boost with Tuesday’s PGA nominations, but really could have used this one, as well. If the man, himself, doesn’t grab a DGA nod on Monday, I’d consider “Ides” to be down and out.
So enough of what’s been missing guilds and on to what’s been racking them in. Out of all the movies from this year, only two have nailed nominations in each of the four guilds, thus far: “The Help” and…that’s right…”Bridesmaids.” Chew on that for a bit, and begin to accept the film’s Best Picture chances. I’m still not sold, but am certainly entertaining the idea. However, a film enjoying perhaps an even better week is “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and I could not be more pleased. Granted Steven Zallian’s script may be ousted by one of the ineligibles in a couple of weeks, this makes 3 out of 4 guild nominations (and let’s be real, an Ensemble Cast nomination was never really in the cards, given the film’s dynamic). If David Fincher is able to score his second straight DGA nomination, it will be difficult to deny this fantastic film’s chances.
One final note. Congratulations to Zallian and Sorkin for writing the BEST screenplay of the year. Hands down.
Well, I’ll let the nominees do the rest of the talking, themselves. Check them out:
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“The Descendants” by Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Steven Zallian
“The Help” by Tate Taylor
“Hugo” by John Logan
“Moneyball” by Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zallian
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“50/50” by Will Reiser
“Bridesmaids” by Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig
“Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen
“Win Win” by Tom McCarthy
“Young Adult” by Diablo Cody
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“Better this World” by Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega
“If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” by Marshall Curry and Matthew Hamachek
“Nostalgia for the Light” by Patricio Guzman
“Pina” by Wim Wenders
“Position Among the Stars” by Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich and Leonard Retel Helmrich
“Senna” by Manish Pandey
Alright, it’s certainly no secret that I’ve been on quite a hiatus from The Edge of the Frame over the last two weeks. I’m sorry to say that I don’t even have a good excuse, aside from just having a lot going on. Obviously Christmas, New Year’s Eve and both of their aftermaths have taken their toll on my schedule. As some of you know, my birthday also happened to fall in the last few weeks (congratulations to me for making it to a quarter of a century) which also brought about it’s own string of festivities. Perhaps the most time-consuming and unfortunately debilitating event of recent times was my grueling bout with food poisoning, that kept me all but bed-ridden for nearly a week. Allow me to thank Peking Chinese Kitchen on Belmont for that. You definitely lost a return customer with that one.
Anyway, now that my schedule is relatively clear and my digestive system is back to normal, I think it’s about time to get back down to business. The last post I made was to close out the biggest week in the awards season with the Golden Globe nominations. And while not many more hugely substantial announcements have occurred since, the shape of this year’s race has shifted a little bit. Let’s dive in.
Well, while other things have changed here and there, the overall frontrunner has not moved much. “The Artist” positioned itself in the lead about a month ago and it really hasn’t lost any ground. “The Tree of Life” has certainly picked up a lot of steam on the critics circuit, but no film has come close to matching the strong silent type in terms of genuine devotion, from critics and audiences alike. It also has a fresh taste spinning for it that virtually no other film made this year can lay claim to.
So what film this year still has the potential to upset the current trajectory? The answer, unfortunately is nothing. Several films have earned themselves a late surge with some unexpected critical love, such as the above-mentioned “The Tree of Life,” as well as “Drive,” yet both films are still just fighting for nominations. As far as the other juggernauts go, “War Horse” just hasn’t been able to break past its own sappiness to overcome it’s largely mediocre status. “The Descendants,” meanwhile, seemingly peaked too early and lost a lot of its buzz by the time awards started rolling in. It will still likely pick up an Oscar or two, but its original status as a Best Picture hopeful is fading.
Perhaps the only two films that stand anywhere near a fighting chance are “Hugo” and “The Help.” While just about no one (aside from myself) can stop drooling their praise all over Martin Scorsese and what he has done with this 3D endeavor, the film does suffer greatly from completely missing out in the SAG nominations. Say what you want, but the performers contingent of the Academy nearly doubles any other and their opinion weighs in greatly, here. And one film’s bane is another’s best friend, for “The Help” has the SAG deep in it’s pocket. This unlikely little film-that-could has surprisingly become “The Artist”‘s biggest competition, provided it keeps up a solid guild run (which certainly seems probable with it’s PGA nomination). Perhaps its biggest detractor is the lack of a well-known director. Yet, if Tate Taylor is able to surprise us all with a DGA nomination next week, it’s star will just keep rising.
Obviously, the biggest surprise of the last month has been the emergence of “Bridesmaids” as a contender for a Best Picture nomination. I’d wager any money that, back in May, you could count on both hands how many people thought that this was a plausible scenario for a film that features one woman going number two in a bathroom sink, while another squats in the middle of the street. Albeit, that is arguably the funniest scene of any film this year and I would not be at all disappointed if the film ended up on the shortlist. Yet, it’s bordering on mystifying that the Academy has reached that point. If “Bridesmaids” scores a nomination with the WGA, tomorrow, it will have one from all four guilds, and you can count on only one hand the amount of films that have done that this year.
I won’t go into the acting categories just yet, but will hopefully address those individually at a later date. However, I will be following this up with a new complete set of predictions by tomorrow. Stay tuned.