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


Avengers: Infinity War
Beautiful Boy
Ben is Back
The Best of Enemies
Black Panther
Boy Erased
The Catcher Was a Spy
Christopher Robin
Come Sunday
The Death and Life of John F. Donovan
Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot
Eighth Grade
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
The Favourite
First Man
The Front Runner
George and Tammy
The Happy Prince
I Think We're Alone Now
If Beale Street Could Talk
The Irishman
Isle of Dogs
The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara
Leave No Trace
Mary Magdalene
Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Queen of Scots
The Mercy
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
My Life On the Road
On Chesil Beach
On the Basis of Sex
Private Life
Ready Player One
The Seagull
Sorry to Bother You
A Star is Born
Trial By Fire
Where is Kyra?
Where'd You Go, Bernadette
The Wife
The Women of Marwen
A Wrinkle in Time
You Were Never Really Here

Alex Garland (Annihilation)
Anthony Russo, Joe Russo (Avengers: Infinity War)
Adam McKay (Backseat)
Felix van Groeningen (Beautiful Boy)
Peter Hedges (Ben is Back)
Robin Bissell (The Best of Enemies)
Ryan Coogler (Black Panther)
Ethan Hawke (Blaze)
Joel Edgerton (Boy Erased)
Andrew Heckler (Burden)
Ben Lewin (The Catcher Was a Spy)
Wash Westmoreland (Colette)
Joshua Marston (Come Sunday)
David Zellner, Nathan Zellner (Damsel)
Xavier Dolan (The Death and Life of John F. Donovan)
Sebastian Lelio (Disobedience)
Gus Van Sant (Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot)
Bo Burnham (Eighth Grade)
Joe Berlinger (Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile)
Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)
Damien Chazelle (First Man)
Jason Reitman (The Front Runner)
Taylor Hackford (George and Tammy)
Sebastian Lelio (Gloria)
Rupert Everett (The Happy Prince)
Ari Aster (Hereditary)
Reed Morano (I Think We're Alone Now)
Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Martin Scorsese (The Irishman)
Wes Anderson (Isle of Dogs)
Steven Spielberg (The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara)
Debra Granik (Leave No Trace)
Craig William Macneill (Lizzie)
Garth Davis (Mary Magdalene)
Rob Marshall (Mary Poppins Returns)
Josie Rourke (Mary Queen of Scots)
James Marsh (The Mercy)
Anthony Mandler (Monster)
Julie Taymor (My Life On the Road)
Dominic Cooke (On Chesil Beach)
Mimi Leder (On the Basis of Sex)
Tamara Jenkins (Private Life)
Steven Spielberg (Ready Player One)
Michael Mayer (The Seagull)
Boots Riley (Sorry to Bother You)
Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born)
Luca Guadagnino (Suspiria)
Edward Zwick (Trial By Fire)
Jason Reitman (Tully)
Steven Soderbergh (Unsane)
Andrew Dosonmu (Where is Kyra?)
Richard Linklater (Where'd You Go, Bernadette)
Björn Runge (The Wife)
Paul Dano (Wildlife)
Robert Zemeckis (The Women of Marwen)
Ava DuVernay (A Wrinkle in Time)
Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here)

Christian Bale (Backseat)
Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther)
Josh Brolin (George and Tammy)
Steve Carell (Beautiful Boy)
Steve Carell (The Women of Marwen)
Robert De Niro (The Irishman)
Ben Dickey (Blaze)
Peter Dinklage (I Think We're Alone Now)
Zac Efron (Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Come Sunday)
Rupert Everett (The Happy Prince)
Colin Firth (The Mercy)
Ben Foster (Leave No Trace)
Paul Giamatti (Private Life)
Ryan Gosling (First Man)
Josh Hamilton (Eighth Grade)
Kit Harington (The Death and Life of John F. Donovan)
Kelvin Harrison, Jr. (Monster)
Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased)
Garrett Hedlund (Burden)
Hugh Jackman (The Frontrunner)
Stephan James (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Alessandro Nivola (Disobedience)
Jack O'Connell (Trial By Fire)
Ed Oxenbould (Wildlife)
Robert Pattinson (Damsel)
Joaquin Phoenix (Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot)
Joaquin Phoenix (You Were Never Really Here)
Robert Redford (Old Man and the Gun)
Mark Rylance (The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara)
Sam Rockwell (The Best of Enemies)
Paul Rudd (The Catcher Was a Spy)
Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You)

Annette Bening (The Seagull)
Jessica Chastain (George and Tammy)
Glenn Close (The Wife)
Toni Collette (Hereditary)
Lily Collins (Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile)
Elle Fanning (I Think We're Alone Now)
Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade)
Claire Foy (Unsane)
Stefani Germanotta (A Star is Born)
Kathryn Hahn (Private Life)
Taraji P. Henson (The Best of Enemies)
Dakota Johnson (Suspiria)
Felicity Jones (On the Basis of Sex)
Keira Knightley (Colette)
Kiki Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Rooney Mara (Mary Magdalene)
Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie (Leave No Trace)
Julianne Moore (Gloria)
Julianne Moore (My Life On the Road)
Chloe Moretz (The Miseducation of Cameron Post)
Carey Mulligan (Wildlife)
Michelle Pfeiffer (Where is Kyra?)
Natalie Portman (Annihilation)
Julia Roberts (Ben is Back)
Saoirse Ronan (Mary Queen of Scots)
Saoirse Ronan (On Chesil Beach)
Saoirse Ronan (The Seagull)
Chloë Sevigny (Lizzie)
Emma Stone (The Favourite)
Charlize Theron (Tully)
Tessa Thompson (Sorry to Bother You)
Mia Wasikowska (Damsel)
Rachel Weisz (Disobedience)

Jack Black (Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot)
Steve Carell (Backseat)
Michael Cera (Gloria)
Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy)
Russell Crowe (Boy Erased)
Billy Crudup (Where'd You Go, Bernadette)
Colman Domingo (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Joel Edgerton (Boy Erased)
Dave Franco (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Wildlife)
Armie Hammer (On the Basis of Sex)
Armie Hammer (Sorry to Bother You)
Jonah Hill (Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot)
Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther)
Harvey Keitel (The Irishman)
Logan Lerman (The Wife)
John Malkovich (Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile)
Haley Joel Osment (Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile)
Al Pacino (The Irishman)
Joe Pesci (The Irishman)
Jonathan Pryce (The Wife)
Sam Rockwell (Backseat)
J.K. Simmons (The Frontrunner)
Christian Slater (The Wife)
Corey Stoll (The Seagull)
Kiefer Sutherland (Where is Kyra?)
John Turturro (Gloria)
Sam Waterston (On the Basis of Sex)
Dominic West (Colette)
Forest Whitaker (Burden)
Jeffrey Wright (Monster)

Amy Adams (Backseat)
Kathy Bates (The Death and Life of John F. Donovan)
Kathy Bates (On the Basis of Sex)
Cate Blanchett (Where'd You Go, Bernadette)
Kayli Carter (Private Life)
Jessica Chastain (The Death and Life of John F. Donovan)
Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
Laura Dern (Trial By Fire)
Vera Farmiga (The Frontrunner)
Claire Foy (First Man)
Jennifer Hudson (Monster)
Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased)
Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Rooney Mara (Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot)
Brit Marling (The Wife)
Rachel McAdams (Disobedience)
Frances McDormand (The Wife)
Elisabeth Moss (The Seagull)
Anna Paquin (The Irishman)
Andrea Riseborough (Burden)
Margot Robbie (Mary Queen of Scots)
Saoirse Ronan (The Seagull)
Susan Sarandon (The Death and Life of John F. Donovan)
Molly Shannon (Private Life)
Kristen Stewart (Lizzie)
Tilda Swinton (Suspiria)
Maura Tierney (Beautiful Boy)
Jeanne Tripplehorn (Gloria)
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)
Rachel Weisz (The Mercy)
Kristen Wiig (Where'd You Go, Bernadette)
Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians)

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!!!