It seems ironic and more than a little redeeming that around this same time last year, I ran my mouth off about 2011 being one of the worst quality years for filmmaking in some time. Well, the gods of cinema seem to have answered my prayers, for I don’t think I could have asked for a more diverse and memorable year. Just working on this list is a treat, and I hope so will reading it.
Without further adieu, let’s start with this year’s runners-up:
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan
While living up to its predecessor was a bit too much to ask for, Nolan’s final chapter is still a head above any other comic book film in this year, or really any other. The new characters are sharp, the villains are brutal and the epic tale’s message is as poignant as ever.
In the last several weeks, we’ve seen the top dogs of Hollywood’s guilds announce their nominations for best of the year. Nowadays, the precedent for any of these awards-giving bodies lining up with their equivalent Academy Award is virtually non-existant. However, they have always been the closest predictors of any precursor on the table. The Screen Actor’s Guild was the first to arrive with disappointments and surprises abound.
Undoubtedly, the guild elevated Nicole Kidman to a place of prominence in the Supporting field (simply a Golden Globe nomination could have been dismissible). Everything is pointing towards a nod, but I’m sticking with her just missing the cut for a surprise indy favorite in Ann Dowd from “Compliance”.
While the SAGs gave a boost to Kidman, they tied a cinderblock to perhaps my personal favorite performance of the year, none other than Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”, in an attempt to drown it in the deep end of the pool. No doubt this miss of a nomination is due to Phoenix’ lack (or even disdain) of a campaign. He still managed the Globe and BFCA noms, however, and I doubt that Bradley Cooper will be able to garner as many No 1. votes on the ballots to squeeze him past such a die hard performance. Either you love it or hate it, but ask Terrence Malick how that methodology worked out for him last year.
Here’s the list of SAG nomination, color-coated with whom I think will advance:
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Bradley Cooper – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis – “Lincoln”
John Hawkes – “The Sessions”
Denzel Washington – “Flight”
Hugh Jackman – “Les Miserables”
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain – “Zero Dark Thirty”
Jennifer Lawrence – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Helen Mirren – “Hitchcock”
Naomi Watts – “The Impossible”
Marion Cotillard – “Rust and Bone”
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Alan Arkin – “Argo”
Robert De Niro – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Philip Seymour Hoffman – “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones – “Lincoln”
Javier Bardem – “Skyfall”
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Sally Field – “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway – “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt – “The Sessions”
Nicole Kidman – “The Paperboy”
Maggie Smith – “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
As far as the Producer’s Guild is concerned, things couldn’t have gone more predictably. Generally, this field has a penchant for box office fair, with the Hollywood big whigs patting each other on the back over who managed to secure the best profit even when making decent cinema. Therefore, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” with its minuscule budget and purebred independent production, showing up here is a bit surprising and more than a little admirable.
Meanwhile, I doubt that the mammoth monetary returns of the latest James Bond entry are the only reason for it’s appearance. “Skyfall” has been steadily gathering momentum since its release and a Best Picture nomination to follow would not be at all unexpected at this point. Given that it’s become a near lock for 4 nominations and a safe bet for 3 more, it may already be in the top tier in its total tally, so why not?
It’s really difficult to translate the PGA to Best Picture, given that one has a set amount of nominees, while the Oscars will be an unpredictable number between 5 and 10. Therefore, I’ve highlighted the definite locks and noted which films are surely on the bubble:
Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Life of Pi”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Zero Dark Thirty”
As usual, the Writers Guild of America continued its inclusive, snobbish routine of listing all of the films that would not receive nominations based on the rules and regulations of the union and its membership. Some of the most prominent ineligibles include “”Django Unchained,” “Amour,” “Brave,” “Seven Psychopaths” and “The Intouchables” in in the original field, along with “Les Miserables,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and “Anna Karenina” absent from adapted.
Given that it actually did make the cut of qualifying films, “The Sessions” not showing up here is a major blow. It will have a hard time eking in a nod competing against a wider field on Thursday. “The Master” finally scored an important guild mention here after being largely shut out everywhere else. Will it be booted by QT’s “Django” in a few days. I severely pray not.
A joy to see on this list is definitely Rian Johnson’s mind-blowing sci fi action film “Looper,” which has risen from a financially unappreciated flop to a legitimate awards contender. Hopefully, it hold its ground for Oscar.
Here’s the two categories and my perspective:
Best Adapted Screenplay:
“Life of Pi”
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
Best Original Screenplay:
“Zero Dark Thirty”
Finally, we come to the newly announced Directors Guild nominations, which, for the first time, were released after the close of Oscar balloting. Whether this proves a massive difference from other years will surely determine how much of an influence these nominations have on the hearts and minds of Oscar voters.
Not a lot of surprises abound in this group of five. There were some who believed (and maybe a few who hoped, myself included) that “Life of Pi” had gone quiet in the final stretch of campaigning, leaving the coveted final spot for “Silver Linings Playbook” helmer David O’Russell. However, with nods from the PGA, WGA and now the DGA, it’s full steam ahead for this cartoonish storybook epic. Ang Lee is such a legend in this day and age that there might never have been a question about it.
I’m predicting a five-for-five line-up here, but would be thrilled to see either P.T. Anderson (“The Master”) or Michael Haneke (“Amour”) make surprise coups.
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film:
Ben Affleck, “Argo
Tom Hooper, “Les Misérables”
Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”
Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Stay tuned for my final Oscar predictions tomorrow evening. At this state in the race, it’s every man for himself until curtain call. Don’t be surprised if even what I’ve said above changes in the next 24 hours.