Oscar Watch: Green Book

If the name Peter Farrelly rings a bell, it’s likely because you usually hear it as part of the Farrelly Brothers. They’re the comedy team responsible for directing such massive hits as Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary. At the Toronto Film Festival, Peter has made his first solo venture and it’s a more serious effort in the form of Green Book.

The true life pic tells the story of an Italian American bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) chauffeuring jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) through the Deep South in 1962. Critical reaction is out and the term crowd pleaser is a common one in the notices. There’s even been some comparisons to Driving Miss Daisy, based on its themes. That won Best Picture nearly three decades ago.

Green Book would really need to turn into a major hit to get Best Picture attention. As for Mortensen and Ali, their work has been praised. There is some confusion which categories they’ll be placed in, but buzz up north suggests they’re both unquestionably leads. If that holds true for the Oscar campaign, they enter into a crowded race with the risk of splitting one another’s votes. Both men are no stranger to Academy attention. Mortensen is a two-time nominee for 2007’s Eastern Promises and 2016’s Captain Fantastic. Ali took the Supporting Actor statue two years ago with Moonlight.

On the brighter side, the Original Screenplay category is looking a little light right now. That could be the perfect place for this to be recognized.

Bottom line: if things go really well for Green Book, it could be a factor in more than one big race. Original Screenplay looks more possible.

The film debuts November 21. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

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Oscar Watch: Live by Night

In the near decade that Ben Affleck has become a director, he’s had quite an impressive showing at both the box office and in the awards derby. His debut feature, 2007’s Gone Baby Gone (based on a Dennis Lehane novel), nabbed Amy Ryan a nod for Supporting Actress. His follow-up, 2010’s The Town, earned Jeremy Renner a Supporting Actor nomination. His third feature, 2012’s Argo, really hit the Oscar jackpot. It garnered seven nominations and won three – Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, and Editing. Argo also had the curious and rare distinction of winning the biggest prize without Mr. Affleck receiving a nomination for his direction (the first time that had happened since 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy).

On Christmas Day, Affleck’s fourth feature Live by Night opens in limited release for Oscar consideration prior to its wide release in January. It also finds its source material from a book by Dennis Lehane. Based on Affleck’s track record, it stood to reason that the pic could be a potential Academy contender. Yet reviews out today strongly suggest otherwise. Night stands at only 33% at press time on Rotten Tomatoes and none of the precursors (SAG Awards, Golden Globes) have bestowed it with any recognition.

The Prohibition era gangster drama looks like a non-factor in any of the larger races, including Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, or any acting slots for Affleck and his costars which include Sienna Miller, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Zoe Saldana, and Chris Cooper. Night could be a factor in some down the line races including Production Design and Costume Design, though even those could be a long shot.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

This Day in Movie History: January 26

On This Day in Movie History – January 26 – twenty four years ago, Driving Miss Daisy reached number one at the domestic box office. Bruce Beresford’s drama spanning the decades long relationship between an elderly widowed Georgia woman (Jessica Tandy) and her driver (Morgan Freeman) struck a major chord with audiences and grossed $106 million stateside. Additionally, Academy voters would honor it with Best Picture and Actress for Tandy. Interestingly, Daisy would be the rare movie to win the top Oscar prize without its director even being nominated. That wouldn’t occur again for 22 years when Argo won the award with director Ben Affleck not being recognized.

As for birthdays, today would have marked the 89th birthday of Paul Newman. The iconic star was nominated for ten Oscars yet won just once for 1986’s The Color of Money. In that picture, he reprised his role as Fast Eddie Felson that he made famous in 1961’s The Hustler. Among his many notable pictures: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Sweet Bird of Youth, Hud, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, The Towering Inferno, Slap Shot, The Verdict, Nobody’s Fool, Road to Perdition, and Pixar’s Cars. Newman passed away in 2008.

Scott Glenn turns 73 today. The great character actor has appeared in many high-profile pictures working with Robert Altman in Nashville, Francis Ford Coppola in Apocalypse Now, and Oliver Stone in W. He appeared as astronaut Alan Shephard in The Right Stuff and costarred in Urban Cowboy, The Hunt for Red October, The Silence of the Lambs, Backdraft, Courage Under Fire, and the last two features in the Bourne franchise.

As for Six Degrees of Separation between Mr. Newman and Mr. Glenn:

Paul Newman was in Message in a Bottle with Kevin Costner

Kevin Costner was in Silverado with Scott Glenn

And that’s today – January 26 – in Movie History!