The Cannes Film Festival can quickly confirm or deny the awards prospects for its screeners. Just today, Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon (as expected) solidified its standing as a player in multiple races including the big one. On other hand, anyone thinking that Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny had a Top Gun: Maverick level shot at breaking into Oscar territory were disabused of that notion upon its unveiling.
Then there’s cases where it’s murkier and May December from Todd Haynes falls into that category. The word campy is being used more than any other I’ve seen in this tale of a Hollywood actress (Natalie Portman) shadowing Julianne Moore. She plays a tabloid star known for bedding a 13-year-old who’s now her adult husband (Charles Melton).
Haynes has yet to see any of his pictures, including the acclaimed Far From Heaven, I’m Not There, and Carol, contend for Best Picture. He has, on the other hand, seen his performers get nominated. Moore was up in lead for Heaven while Cate Blanchett received a Supporting Actress mention for There. For Carol, Blanchett was nominated again (this time for Actress) while Rooney Mara made the cut in Supporting Actress.
With 90% on Rotten Tomatoes at press time, December is receiving some glowing reviews mixed with more subdued appreciation. Whatever distributor picks it up (which I’m sure is imminent) is bound to mount a campaign. Its chances in the acting derbies are probably higher than Picture or Director (though I wouldn’t count out Samy Burch’s original screenplay).
Category placement will be fascinating to watch. From what I’ve read, Portman and Moore appear to be co-leads. That doesn’t mean they won’t be split and one believable scenario is Portman in lead with Moore in supporting. They are both former winners in Best Actress: Portman for 2010’s Black Swan and Moore in 2014’s Still Alice. As for Melton, the former Riverdale performer appears to be a Supporting Actor play. All three should be in the mix for contention.
There’s another category placement story. At the Golden Globes, December could be placed in Musical/Comedy where its chances at noms might be stronger. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
The 2021 crop of documentary hopefuls has the potential to be quite a sonically pleasing affair. Just recently, I discussed Questlove’s heralded Summer of Soul which seems like a surefire contender. We also have acclaimed directors known most for non-docs staking a claim in the subgenre.
At the Cannes Film Festival, Todd Haynes has just debuted The Velvet Underground. Focused on the influential NYC band featuring Lou Reed, this is yet another acclaimed example of an auteur dipping back into the musical vaults. Edgar Wright did so earlier this year with The Sparks Brothers. Peter Jackson has his three-part The Beatles: Get Back hitting Disney Plus in November.
Haynes is most known for numerous indie darlings. His screenplay for 2002’s Far from Heaven was nominated, but he was surprisingly not mentioned for directing or writing with 2015’s Carol. Could the Academy recognize him here?
It’s now standard practice on the blog to point out that the Academy’s documentary branch is a fickle bunch. There could simply be too many rock docs competing against each other (and I’d certainly give Soul an edge over this). However, depending on the forthcoming competition, there could potentially be room for this Underground offering. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Director Todd Haynes has guided Julianne Moore and Cate Blanchett to previous acting nominations in Far From Heaven, I’m Not There, and Carol. His latest effort is the corporate legal thriller Dark Waters, based on a true story. Mark Ruffalo stars and produces, playing a lawyer taking on the DuPont conglomerate.
Somewhat surprisingly, Waters skipped the late summer and autumn festival circuit ahead of its November 22nd release and reviews are just trickling out. They’re decent and the Rotten Tomatoes score is currently 75%.
Critics have praised Ruffalo’s work. He is thrice nominated in the Supporting Actor race for 2010’s The Kids Are All Right, 2014’s Foxcatcher, and 2015’s Spotlight. He would stand the best chance at recognition for the first time in lead – over the film itself and costars including Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, and Bill Pullman. Yet, as has been discussed before on the blog, Best Actor is packed. I believe there’s eight thespians at the moment with legit shots at nods. Ruffalo isn’t in that mix.
Bottom line: chances for Dark Waters in the awards conversation are murky at best.
It’s a rare occurrence at the Oscars and it hasn’t happened in over a decade – one actor being nominated in the same year in the lead and supporting categories. To be precise, this has occurred 11 times in the 91 year history of the Academy. Eight women, three men. And if you think this rare honor might lessen the chances of the performer winning, seven of them did. The first four of them emerged victorious for their supporting roles. The last three won for lead.
One of them gets an asterisk and a rather fascinating one for awards trivia buffs. In 1944, Barry Fitzgerald was a double nominee for the same movie! That would be GoingMyWay. He won for Supporting Actor, but lost out to Bing Crosby in lead. What did Bing win for? GoingMyWay. After that, the Academy changed their rules so that could never happen again and we didn’t even see another double year individual until almost 40 years later.
That brings us into the modern era when Jessica Lange took gold in Supporting Actress for Tootsie. She came up empty handed in lead for Frances, losing to Meryl Streep (Sophie’sChoice). Somewhat surprisingly, Streep is not one of the 11 designees despite her record setting amount of nods.
1992 saw Al Pacino finally win a statue for his lead part in ScentofaWoman and he was also nominated for GlengarryGlenRoss. The following year, Holly Hunter won for ThePiano and got a supporting nod in TheFirm. And our last double year winner was Jamie Foxx in 2004 for Ray with supporting recognition for Collateral. Cate Blanchett is currently the last performer with this rare honor. She heard her name called in 2007 for Elizabeth: TheGoldenAge (lead) and I’mNotThere (supporting). She’s won two Oscars, but not that year, despite the double play.
So why write about this now? In 2019, there are two legitimate possibilities for inclusion to this short list. And both of them have decent shots at winning one of the categories. Let’s start with Scarlett Johansson. She’s somehow never been nominated for an Oscar. And with MarriageStory, it seems that streak is going to end. That would fall under lead and she is a contender to win. Yet she could also find herself in the mix in supporting for JojoRabbit.
And how about Brad Pitt… who’s been nominated but never won? He’s already achieving front runner status in Supporting Actor for OnceUponaTimeinHollywood. Could his momentum also propel him to a lead actor nod in AdAstra? Unlikely perhaps, but it’s feasible.
There are plenty of Oscar years where this double nomination thing isn’t even a realistic proposition. 2019 is a different story.
In 2009, the Academy underwent a change in the number of Best Picture nominees honored each year. The rule change allowed a fluctuation of five to ten nominees per year, as opposed to a finite five (all other categories stayed at that number).
As has been discussed on this blog, many felt the change was triggered by 2008’s The Dark Knight, the critically acclaimed comic book pic that was also highest earner of the year. It failed to a garner a Best Picture nod and the thinking was that it was time for more popular options to make it into the mix.
Since the change, the magic number has been nine nominated pictures in most years. This got me thinking: what if that rule had been in effect during prior years? What movies that failed to get a nomination would have certainly made it?
That brings us here. I have gone back to 1990 through 2008 and I’m listing two films from each year that I am confident would have made the shortlist. In selecting each title, here were some of the key indicators. If a Director was nominated for his work and the film failed to get nominated, that probably means it would have been included. Additionally, the screenplay races are a decent predictor of some titles that might have made the magic nine (or eight or ten). For reference sake, I am including the five movies that did get nominated.
So here goes! Two features from 1990-2008 that coulda and likely woulda been contenders…
The Actual Nominees: Dances with Wolves (Winner), Awakenings, Ghost, The Godfather Part III, GoodFellas
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: The Grifters, Reversal of Fortune
The Actual Nominees: The Silence of the Lambs (W), Beauty and the Beast, Bugsy, JFK, The Prince of Tides
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Boyz N The Hood, Thelma & Louise
The Actual Nominees: Unforgiven (W), The Crying Game, A Few Good Men, Howards End, Scent of a Woman
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Malcolm X, The Player
The Actual Nominees: Schindler’s List (W), The Fugitive, In the Name of the Father, The Piano, The Remains of the Day
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Philadelphia, Short Cuts
The Actual Nominees: Forrest Gump (W), Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pulp Fiction, Quiz Show, The Shawshank Redemption
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Bullets Over Broadway, Three Colors: Red
The Actual Nominees: Braveheart (W), Apollo 13, Babe, Il Postino, Sense and Sensibility
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Dead Man Walking, Leaving Las Vegas
The Actual Nominees: The English Patient (W), Fargo, Jerry Maguire, Secrets & Lies, Shine
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Sling Blade
The Actual Nominees: Titanic (W), As Good as It Gets, The Full Monty, Good Will Huinting, L.A. Confidential
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Boogie Nights, The Sweet Hereafter
The Actual Nominees: Shakespeare in Love (W), Elizabeth, Life is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Gods and Monsters, The Truman Show
The Actual Nominees: American Beauty (W), The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider, The Sixth Sense
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Being John Malkovich, Topsy-Turvy
The Actual Nominees: Gladiator (W), Chocolat, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Erin Brockovich, Traffic
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Almost Famous, Billy Elliot
The Actual Nominees: A Beautiful Mind (W), Gosford Park, In the Bedroom, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Moulin Rouge!
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Black Hawk Down, Mulholland Drive
The Actual Nominees: Chicago (W), Gangs of New York, The Hours, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Far from Heaven, Talk to Her
The Actual Nominees: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (W), Lost in Translation, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Mystic River, Seabiscuit
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: City of God, In America
The Actual Nominees: Million Dollar Baby (W), The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, Sideways
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Hotel Rwanda, Vera Drake
The Actual Nominees: Crash (W), Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Syriana, Walk the Line
The Actual Nominees: The Departed (W), Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Pan’s Labyrinth, United 93
The Actual Nominees: No Country for Old Men (W), Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Away from Her, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The Actual Nominees: Slumdog Millionaire (W), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: The Dark Knight, Doubt
And there you have it! There will be a part II to this post. What if the rule change had never occurred? From 2009 until the present, what would have been the five nominated Pictures if only that number was allowed. Stay tuned…
The Cannes Film Festival started this week across the pond in France and that means some likely Oscar hopefuls are receiving their first screenings. One such picture is Wonderstruck, the latest from director Todd Haynes. It’s based on a 2011 novel by Brian Selznick, the same author who wrote the Hugo series in which Martin Scorsese’s 2011 Best Picture nominee is based upon.
Wonderstruck features Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams in supporting roles and child actors Oakes Fegley and Millicent Simmonds in lead parts. Reaction from the Cannes screening has been mostly positive and it currently stands at 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. Haynes’ three previous efforts have all garnered Oscar nods – 2002’s FarfromHeaven, 2007’s I’mNotThere, and 2015’s Carol. However, none of them got Best Picture nominations. Instead, the focus was on acting. That will likely apply here with some potential for attention on down ballot categories.
Based on early buzz, I’d keep an eye out for Simmonds, the teenage deaf actress said to be a standout. Wonderstruck could also make a play for Adapted Screenplay as well as Costume Design and Original Score. The film hits theaters stateside in October.
After a number of smaller film roles in some notable pictures ranging from Out of Sight to Far From Heaven to Syriana, it was another smaller role that catapulted Viola Davis to the attention of moviegoers in 2008. Her one scene in Doubt alongside Meryl Streep and Amy Adams earned the actress a Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. She didn’t win, yet it furthered some more substantive roles including 2011’s The Help for which she received a Lead Actress Academy nod (losing to Streep in The Iron Lady).
Yet in 2016, the third time could well be the charm for Davis for her supporting work in Fences, in which she reprises her Broadway role with director/star Denzel Washington. It’s all part of a remarkable couple of years for Davis in which she deservedly gets a mention in my Year Of posts. Her work in Fences and expected Oscar win would come just a year after becoming the first African-American actress to win Lead Actress in a Drama Series at the Emmys for ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder”. Davis also had a prominent role in this summer’s blockbuster Suicide Squad, portraying the government agent responsible for getting all those bad guys together.
Film and TV lovers have been noticing Viola Davis for some time now and 2016 may well prove to be the year where Oscar voters finally do.
In 2002, the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) went gaga over Todd Haynes’s drama Far From Heaven, bestowing it with their award for Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (Dennis Quaid), and Supporting Actress (Patricia Clarkson). Yet when it came time for Oscar nominations, none of those picks were reflected with the Academy.
Thirteen years later, could history repeat itself again for Mr. Haynes? It’s a worthy question as the NYFCC have showered love upon his latest project, Carol. The 1950s drama centering on a lesbian relationship won big at their ceremony today, taking Picture and Director. The Big Apple critics appreciation for Carol gives it a somewhat needed boost for its Oscar chances. When it screened at film festivals earlier this year, it seemed close to a lock for Picture recognition but its stock has waned some.
As I did yesterday with the National Board of Review’s selections, it’s important to show you how often each critics organization matches what the Academy ends up doing. With the NYFCC, 12 out of their last 15 selections for Best Picture (the ones in the 21st century) have gone onto Oscar nominations in the same category. The exceptions were the aforementioned Heaven, 2001’s Mulholland Drive, and 2006’s United 93.
The same 12/15 ratio extends to the Directing category in which winners were Academy snubbed. Besides Haynes, the others were Mike Leigh for 2008’s Happy Go Lucky and Kathyn Bigelow for 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty.
I believe it’s much more likely that Carol manages a slot in the Picture race come Oscar nomination time than Haynes himself, but we’ll see how that plays out well as my predictions continue to be updated on the blog.
As for the acting races – the NYFCC hit us with two surprises. The biggest was Supporting Actress where they selected Kristen Stewart for her work in the little seen Clouds of Sils Maria. While she’s been mentioned as a possibility, very few prognosticators (this one included) have picked her for a Oscar nomination. I still don’t see it happening, but this win does raise her profile for sure. It’s also worth noting that only 2 of the last 15 NYFCC recipients in this category haven’t received Academy attention (the aforementioned Clarkson for Heaven and Maria Bello in 2005’s A History of Violence). Even more surprising is that the NYFCC didn’t honor Rooney Mara’s work in Carol, since many consider her the most likely winner for the gold statue.
The other surprise was Best Actor, which went to Michael Keaton in Spotlight. The shocker was the category he won for because Mr. Keaton is being campaigned for in Supporting Actor and not lead. It’s highly likely that the Bat/Birdman will be recognized come Oscar time… just not in the race where the NYFCC feted him. Of note: three past winners in the 21st century didn’t get Oscar nods: Paul Giamatti in 2004’s Sideways and the last two recipients: Robert Redford for All is Lost and Timothy Spall as Mr. Turner.
Actress went to Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn and her Academy nod seems pretty much assured. She joins Room‘s Brie Larson (who won the NBR yesterday), Joy‘s Jennifer Lawrence, and Carol‘s Cate Blanchett as front runners for award attention into the future. As with Actor, three winners out of the past 15 didn’t receive Academy attention: Hope Davis for 2003’s American Splendor, Sally Hawkins for 2008’s Happy Go Lucky, and Rachel Weisz for 2012’s The Deep Blue Sea.
Supporting Actor went to Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies and he’s also a strong contender in the big race. It is worth noting that the NYFCC has actually picked five out of their last 15 winners that never made it to the Academy’s red carpet: the previously mentioned Quaid in 2002, Steve Buscemi for Ghost World (2001), Eugene Levy in A Mighty Wind (2003), Albert Brooks in Drive (2011), and Matthew McConaughey for Magic Mike and Bernie (2012).
Bottom line: a solid day for Carol and we’ll see if the momentum keeps up as my analysis for the 2015 awards season keeps rolling along…