Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Unusually Crowded Actors' Races

I've always found the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress Oscar races more exciting. It's partly because I'm somewhat of an actressexual (a term introduced by Nathaniel of The Film Experience), but it's also because this race is often so competitive, with two or three slots open to surprise nominees up to nomination night. (Last year was an exception, with all five nominees in the lead actress race practically locks long before).

In an Oscar year that seems to be seeing an uncharacteristic dearth in competitive female performances, the male categories seem unusually, but pleasantly, crowded with so many possibilities. And while most of the significant female performances have already been seen (the few exceptions include Julia Roberts of Charlie Wilson's War, Halle Berry of Things We Lost in the Fire, and Giovanna Mezzogiorno of Love in the Time of Cholera), strong vehicles for male performances (the aforementioned three films, American Gangster, There Will Be Blood, Sweeney Todd, etc.) have yet to come out. The Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor races are shaping up to be the most exciting categories to watch for this year.

My current predicted nominees for the Best Actor race are Daniel Day Lewis (There Will Be Blood), Tom Hanks (Charlie Wilson's War), Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah), James McAvoy (Atonement), and Denzel Washington (American Gangster). Of these, only McAvoy and Jones are, as of this moment, safe bets. The other three could be replaced by a whole mob of potential nominees. Joaquin Phoenix (Reservation Road) and John Cusack (Grace is Gone) have had their buzz diminished for different reasons (failure of the film for Phoenix, failure to sustain buzz for Cusack). George Clooney (Michael Clayton) is a definite contender, with his characteristic clout in Hollywood and a film that was generally well received. The buzz for Philip Seymour Hoffman's turn in The Savages has a lot of people excited about how it plays out when the film is released to wider audiences later in the year. Johnny Depp may yet shine in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Javier Bardem may capitalize on his astounding success with No Country for Old Men (for which he's almost sure to get a nod for the supporting category) and get more attention with Love in the Time of Cholera.

What makes this race so exciting, however, is the deluge of strong male performances from recent wide releases and Toronto hits. The acclaimed 3:10 to Yuma has lauded co-leads in Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, also a critics' favorite, has Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck, though the latter would likely be placed in the supporting category. The victory of Eastern Promises in Toronto ups the chances of Viggo Mortensen for a first nomination, though how much it does so is unclear. Sean Penn directs Emile Hirsch in Into the Wild to a possible first nom of his own. And before we can say, "Whoa, there's too many of them already," Before the Devil Knows You're Dead swoops in from outside the radar with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke looking at awards consideration. Any of these could end up as nominees.

My predicted Best Supporting Actor nominees are currently Affleck, Bardem, Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood), Benicio del Toro (Things We Lost in the Fire), and Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton). I'm least confident about the nods for del Toro and Dano, though the Academy likes the former enough (for a nom and a win) and the latter could be propelled by a highly probably nomination for his co-star Day Lewis. Wilkinson's role is too juicy to ignore, as are Bardem's and Affleck's. Hoffman's turn in Charlie Wilson's War has big potential to make him a major contender at year's end. Ben Foster might be given a shot at a first nom with 3:10 to Yuma. Philip Bosco could sneak in by playing the ailing patriarch in The Savages. Maybe oft-ignored Mark Ruffalo could bypass his film's bad reviews even if Phoenix can't. People are all a-buzz about Hal Holbrook in Into the Wild even more than they are about Hirsch in that film. Former nominee Armin Mueller-Stahl could get in for Eastern Promises. Will people remember John Travolta's antics in the well received Hairspray? Alan Rickman could be a scene-stealer in Sweeney Todd, as could Dustin Hoffman in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (he is Mr. Magorium, after all). And what about Hawke's co-lead performance in Devil (it can pit him here against co-star Albert Finney), and Crowe's own in American Gangster?

These are the types of races that make Oscar enthusiasts' hobby of predicting nominees so difficult and yet so fun and rewarding at the same time. Bring it on!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Up and Coming, For Your Consideration

90TH ACADEMY AWARDS

BEST PICTURE
Alien: Covenant
Alone in Berlin
Annihilation
Battle of the Sexes
Beatriz at Dinner
Beauty and the Beast
The Beguiled
Blade Runner 2049
Blonde
Brain on Fire
Call Me by Your Name
The Childhood of a Leader
Crown Heights
The Current War
The Dark Tower
Darkest Hour
The Death and Life of John F. Donovan
Downsizing
Dunkirk
Ghost in the Shell
The Glass Castle
The Greatest Showman
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Justice League
Logan
Mary Magdalene
Mary Poppins Returns
Molly's Game
Mother!
The Mountain Between Us
Mudbound
On Chesil Beach
The Seagull
The Secret Scripture
Star Wars: Episode VIII
Submergence
Suburbicon
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Tully
Victoria and Abdul
War for the Planet of the Apes
Where is Kyra?
The Wife
Wonderstruck
Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson project
Untitled Kathryn Bigelow project

BEST DIRECTOR
Ridley Scott (Alien: Covenant)
Vincent Perez (Alone in Berlin)
Alex Garland (Annihilation)
Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris (Battle of the Sexes)
Mike White, Miiguel Arteta (Beatriz at Dinner)
Bill Condon (Beauty and the Beast)
Sofia Coppola (The Beguiled)
Denis Villenueve (Blade Runner 2049)
Andrew Dominik (Blonde)
Gerard Barrett (Brain on Fire)
Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name)
Brady Corbet (The Childhood of a Leader)
Matt Ruskin (Crown Heights)
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (The Current War)
Nikolaj Arcel (The Dark Tower)
Joe Wright (Darkest Hour)
Xavier Dolan (The Death and Life of John F. Donovan)
Alexander Payne (Downsizing)
Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)
Rupert Sanders (Ghost in the Shell)
Destin Daniel Cretton (The Glass Castle)
Michael Gracey (The Greatest Showman)
James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
Jeremy Saulnier (I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore)
James Mangold (Logan)
Garth Davis (Mary Magdalene)
Aaron Sorkin (Molly's Game)
Darren Aronofsky (Mother!)
Hany Abu-Assad (The Mountain Between Us)
Dee Rees (Mudbound)
Dominic Cooke (On Chesil Beach)
Michael Mayer (The Seagull)
Jim Sheridan (The Secret Scripture)
Rian Johnson (Star Wars: Episode VIII)
Wim Wenders (Submergence)
George Clooney (Suburbicon)
Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Jason Reitman (Tully)
Stephen Frears (Victoria and Abdul)
Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes)
Andrew Dosonmu (Where is Kyra?)
Todd Haynes (Wonderstruck)
Paul Thomas Anderson (Untitled)
Kathryn Bigelow (Untitled)

BEST ACTOR
Chadwick Boseman (Marshall)
John Boyega (Untitled Kathryn Bigelow project)
Steve Carell (Battle of the Sexes)
Timothee Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name)
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Current War)
Matt Damon (Downsizing)
Idris Elba (The Mountain Between Us)
Colin Farrell (The Beguiled)
Brendan Gleeson (Alone in Berlin)
Ryan Gosling (Blade Runner 2049)
Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name)
Kit Harington (The Death and Life of John F. Donovan)
Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Hugh Jackman (The Greatest Showman)
Hugh Jackman (Logan)
Daniel Day Lewis (Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson project)
James McAvoy (Submergence)
Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
Robert Pattinson (The Childhood of a Leader)
Andy Serkis (War for the Planet of the Apes)
Michael Shannon (The Current War)
Lakeith Stanfield (Crown Heights)
Elijah Wood (I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore)

BEST ACTRESS
Amy Adams (Story of Your Life)
Annette Bening (The Seagull)
Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns)
Jessica Chastain (Blonde)
Jessic Chastain (Molly's Game)
Glenn Close (The Wife)
Judi Dench (Victoria and Abdul)
Salma Hayek (Beatriz at Dinner)
Brie Larson (The Glass Castle)
Jennifer Lawrence (Mother!)
Melanie Lynskey (I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore)
Rooney Mara (Mary Magdalene)
Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Chloe Grace Moretz (Brain on Fire)
Carey Mulligan (Mudbound)
Michelle Pfeiffer (Mother!)
Michelle Pfeiffer (Where is Kyra?)
Natalie Portman (Annihilation)
Margaret Qualley (Novitiate)
Saoirse Ronan (On Chesil Beach)
Saoirse Ronan (The Seagull)
Emma Stone (Battle of the Sexes)
Charlize Theron (Tully)
Emma Thompson (Alone in Berlin)
Alicia Vikander (Submergence)
Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast)
Kristen Wiig (Downsizing)
Kate Winslet (The Mountain Between Us)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Macon Blair (I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore)
Kenneth Branagh (Dunkirk)
Daniel Brühl (Alone in Berlin)
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner 2049)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars: Episode VIII)
Tom Hardy (Dunkirk)
Woody Harrelson (The Glass Castle)
Garrett Hedlund (Mudbound)
Logan Lerman (The Wife)
John Lithgow (Beatriz at Dinner)
Ben Mendelsohn (Darkest Hour)
Cillian Murphy (Dunkirk)
Will Poulter (Brain on Fire)
Jonathan Pryce (The Wife)
Jeremy Renner (Story of Your Life)
Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Mark Rylance (Dunkirk)
Christian Slater (The Wife)
Patrick Stewart (Logan)
Corey Stoll (The Seagull)
Kiefer Sutherland (Where is Kyra?)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Kathy Bates (The Death and Life of John F. Donovan)
Berenice Bejo (The Childhood of a Leader)
Mary J. Blige (Mudbound)
Jessica Chastain (The Death and Life of John F. Donovan)
Kirsten Dunst (The Beguiled)
Elle Fanning (The Beguiled)
Nicole Kidman (The Beguiled)
Melissa Leo 
(Novitiate)
Brit Marling (The Wife)
Frances McDormand (The Wife)
Michelle Williams (Wonderstruck)
Julianne Moore (Wonderstruck)
Elisabeth Moss (The Seagull)
Vanessa Redgrave (The Secret Scripture)
Saoirse Ronan (The Seagull)
Susan Sarandon (The Death and Life of John F. Donovan)
Meryl Streep (Mary Poppins Returns)
Katherine Waterston (The Current War)
Naomi Watts (The Glass Castle)
Michelle Williams (The Greatest Showman)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Coco (Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina)
Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Donsol, Philippine Entry to 80th Oscars

Donsol, directed by Adolfo Alix and starring Sid Lucero and Angel Aquino, will represent the Philippines in the Foreign Language Film category of the 80th Academy Awards. The Variety article is here. I personally didn't see this one coming (I was expecting Kubrador), but it's a pleasant surprise.

Other films that have submitted their entries: Austria (The Counterfieters), Belgium (Ben X), Canada (Days of Darkness), Finland (Man's Job), France (Persepolis), Germany (The Edge of Heaven), Japan (I Just Didn't Do It), Korea (Secret Sunshine), Norway (Gone with the Woman), and Singapore (881). The French and German entries are very strong contenders.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

2007 Horror Two-fer

Later this year, two potentially great horror films will come out. The first is George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead. Yes, it's a new film from the master of zombie movies. What's interesting about it is that it goes back to the origins of the plague of living dead, with a group of teenage documentarists capturing the worst rampages of the undead on video. Sounds kinda like The Blair Witch Project, but with zombies and Romero's magic touch, I'm sure this film will be significantly different and well worth the time of any horror fan. The second is gallo master Dario Argento's La Terza Madre (Mother of Tears: The Third Mother), the third film in the trilogy started by Suspiria and continued with Inferno. Loved Suspiria, will be watching Inferno soon...can't wait for Third Mother. It has Asia Argento (the director's daughter), demons, witches, lots of blood (what Argento film goes without it?), and other extremely interesting stuff. Both films will be shown in the Toronto Film Festival. Someone give me a plane ticket to Toronto!!!