Oscar History: 2013

Recapping the Oscar Season of 2013, a few things stick out. The big winners were 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, which cleaned up in the tech races. The big loser was American Hustle, which came away with zero victories despite 10 nominations (tying it for most nods with Gravity, which won 7 of them). Another take: it was a packed year for Best Actor with some deserving gents left out.

As I have done with previous years, let’s take a deeper dive in the 86th Academy Awards in the major races:

Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave unsurprisingly came away with the Best Picture prize in a field that yielded eight other films. They were David O. Russell’s American Hustle, Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips, Jean-Marc Vallee’s Dallas Buyers Club, Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, Spike Jonze’s Her, Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, Philomena from Stephen Frears, and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. 

That’s a solid grouping of pictures and there’s probably no obvious omissions from my end in 2013.. That said, many young girls may protest Frozen not making the cut though it did win Best Animated Feature. And certainly Inside Llewyn Davis from the Coen Brothers had its ardent admirers.

There was a Picture/Director split with Cuaron emerging victorious for Gravity. The filmmaker would achieve the same feat five years later when he won for Roma but Green Book took Best Picture. Other nominees were McQueen, Payne, Russell, and Scorsese.I would argue that Greengrass and Jonze could have made the final five.

In the aforementioned crowded Best Actor derby, Matthew McConaughey took gold for his work in Dallas Buyers Club. The four other contenders were Christian Bale for Hustle, Bruce Dern in Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio for Wall Street, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave. Note that all nominees came from Best Picture hopefuls.

Let’s start with Tom Hanks, who I absolutely feel should have gotten in for his remarkable performance in Captain Phillips. The clip I’ve included below proves it and then some. You could say the same for Joaquin Phoenix in Her. Others worth noting: Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis, Hugh Jackman in Prisoners, and Robert Redford for All Is Lost. 

Cate Blanchett was the latest actress to be honored for her work in a Woody Allen picture as she took Best Actress for Blue Jasmine. The other nominees were Amy Adams (American Hustle), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena), and the ever present Meryl Streep (August: Osage County).

I’ll mention three others left out worthy of consideration: Brie Larson in Short Term 12, Julia-Louis Dreyfus for Enough Said, and Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks. For the latter, it was a bit unexpected that she was left out.

McConaughey’s Dallas Buyers costar Jared Leto won Supporting Actor over Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave), and Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street). Again, all nominees stemmed from Picture contenders.

Some others that didn’t quite make it: Daniel Bruhl in Rush, Steve Coogan for Philomena, Paul Dano in Prisoners, and Will Forte in Nebraska.

Another big 12 Years victory was Lupita Nyong’o in Supporting Actress. She took the prize despite competition from Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), and June Squibb (Nebraska).

Despite it being a voice only performance, I would say Scarlett Johansson in Her deserved a spot and the same could be said for Margot Robbie in Wall Street.

And there you have it, folks! My look back at the Oscar landscape in 2013. I’ll have 2014 up in due time…

Oscar Watch: Stan & Ollie

Stan & Ollie has just closed out the London Film Festival and reviews are piling up. The film centers on legendary comedy duo Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) in the waning times of their career. Jon S. Baird directs with a screenplay from Jeff Pope, who was nominated for his adapted screenplay along with Mr. Coogan five years ago for Philomena.

Most early reviews indicate this a winner. Some point out flaws in the picture itself, though praise appears to be unanimous for its two leads. Distributor Entertainment One has reportedly made the choice to campaign for Coogan and Reilly in the lead Actor race at the Oscars. That could be tricky. That category is already looking very crowded. Beyond that, the two could cancel each other out. Additionally, Reilly faces competition with himself when you include his performance in The Sisters Brothers.

Bottom line: I don’t see Stan & Ollie as a factor in Best Picture. In a weaker year, Best Actor (for Reilly especially) could be reachable, but is more of a long shot. Pope could find himself in the mix for Original Screenplay if this gets enough exposure, but that also appears unlikely right now. Its best chance at any nod may well be Makeup & Hairstyling with Reilly’s transformation into Hardy.

Stan & Ollie opens December 28 stateside in limited release. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Best Picture Wouldn’t Have Been Contenders: 2009-2017

A couple of days back on the blog, I speculated about what films in the 21st century would have been nominated for Best Picture prior to a rule change in 2009. As a refresher, nearly a decade ago, the Academy changed its Best Picture Nominees from a finite five to anywhere between five to ten. In that time frame, the magic number most years has been nine (it was actually a finite 10 for 2009 and 2010 before the fluctuation change). My recent post selected two pictures from 1990-2008 that I believe would have been nominated. You can find that post here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/08/03/the-best-picture-coulda-been-contenders-1990-2008/

Today comes the inverse of that column. What if the rule had never been altered? What if the last nine Oscar ceremonies honored just five features?

In making these picks, there’s obviously one extremely easy selection – the movie that won. In naming the other four, I’m looking at factors such as number of other nods it received. For instance, if a Director won that award for their work and the Picture went to something else, that director’s film is in.

So let’s get to it in this alternative Oscar universe. I’ll be reminding you all the pictures recognized and then showing my final five.

2009

The Actual Nominees:

The Hurt Locker (Winner), Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air

Had It Been Five:

The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, Up in the Air

2010

The Actual Nominees:

The King’s Speech (W), 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone

Had It Been Five:

The King’s Speech, The Fighter, Inception, The Social Network, True Grit

2011

The Actual Nominees:

The Artist (W), The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse

Had It Been Five:

The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris

2012

The Actual Nominees:

Argo (W), Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

Had It Been Five:

Argo, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook

2013

The Actual Nominees:

12 Years a Slave (W), American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street

Had It Been Five:

12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Gravity, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street

2014

The Actual Nominees:

Birdman (W), American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

Had It Been Five:

Birdman, American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game

2015

The Actual Nominees:

Spotlight (W), The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room

Had It Been Five:

Spotlight, The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant

2016

The Actual Nominees:

Moonlight (W), Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea

Had It Been Five:

Moonlight, Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea

2017

The Actual Nominees:

The Shape of Water (W), Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Had It Been Five:

The Shape of Water, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

And there you have it with my posts on the “what if” Best Picture happenings in Oscar world!

Oscar Watch: Victoria and Abdul

Victoria & Abdul has screened at the Venice Film Festival and the late 19th century period piece has been looked at as potentially scoring Judi Dench her eighth Oscar nomination. Why? Well, pretty simple: 1) it’s Judi Dench; 2) it casts her once again as Queen Victoria, whom she played in 1997’s Mrs. Brown where she landed her first nod; 3) it reunites her with her Philomena director Stephen Frears where she received her seventh nomination; and 4) it’s Judi Dench, people.

Predictably, the Dame has garnered solid notices for her return to the role two decades later. That said, competition is becoming fierce in the Actress race. Both the Venice and Telluride Festivals have showcased potential nominees such as Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes, Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water, Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird, and Annette Bening in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. That’s in addition to some performances with promise like Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Jennifer Lawrence in Mother!, as well as pics to be screened later showcasing Jessica Chastain (Molly’s Game) and Meryl Streep (The Post).

There’s only five nominations to go around and Dench could find herself on the outside looking in. It’s also highly unlikely costar Ali Fazal or the Picture or Director will find themselves in contention.

Bottom line: it’s Judi Dench (once again), so there’s a chance but competition could provide some difficulties for nod #8.

Philomena Movie Review

Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) is a former journalist turned British government official who’s recently lost his job in disgrace. His preference would be to concentrate on writing a book about Russian history to fill his time, but a human interest story comes his way. He disdains the idea of that type of journalism but even his cynical nature is trumped by a realization. As human interest stories go, this is a fascinating one. Plus no one seems to be clamoring for his ruminations about Lenin and Brezhnev.

Philomena Lee (Judi Dench) is still haunted by the events surrounding her separation from her son fifty years ago. After becoming pregnant at age 18 and giving birth to Anthony, she is sent to an Irish convent. She is forced to work long hours in the laundromat with access to her offspring for one hour per day. Anthony is soon put up for adoption without Philomena’s consent. On what is Anthony’s 50th birthday, his long lost mother takes further steps to find him by enlisting Martin.

This eventually leads to what becomes a road trip drama with heavy comedic undertones. The mix of slightly snooty Martin with Philomena provides humorous results. She seems often incapable of understanding sarcasm which Martin excels in. They are also polar opposites on the faith scale with the title character having never lost it. The same cannot be said for her traveling companion.

Washington D.C. becomes their landing spot where surprising revelations (surprising to some) about Anthony come out. The lighthearted nature of the proceedings continue with heavy drama interrupting it. Philomena is torn between a visit to the Lincoln Memorial and watching the Martin Lawrence pic Big Momma’s House on the hotel movie service. And there’s amazement on her part about free breakfasts and drinks on airplanes.

While we are dealing with a true story here, writers Coogan and Jeff Pope (adapting Martin’s book) could’ve spent a bit less time exploring Philomena’s personality quirks. It’s good for some laughs, but it’s also highly familiar stuff. What works best is when Philomena, both the character and the film, stay in the dramatic lane. By the time all is revealed about the backstory on why she never could find her son, the pic delivers serious emotional material that is effective. It’s just an uneven process getting there.

Judi Dench and Steve Coogan make a solid team. We’ve come to expect greatness from Dame Judi and she is terrific here. Yet Coogan is impressive as well as he veers away from his usual type of material. They alone are reason enough to recommend Philomena and its manageability to get at our heartstrings after awhile is another.

*** (out of four)

 

2014 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

After five posts predicting the other major categories for this year’s Academy Awards, we’ve arrived at the biggest race of all: Best Picture. Here are the nine nominees:

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club

Gravity

Her

Nebraska

Philomena

12 Years a Slave

The Wolf of Wall Street

As I see it, there are three films that stand a realistic chance at taking home the gold. Those three do not include Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, or The Wolf of Wall Street.

That leaves us with American Hustle, Gravity, and 12 Years a Slave.

While I have predicted that Alfonso Cuaron will win Best Director for Gravity (a pick I’m highly confident in), the chances of his picture winning are much more slim. While it was a hit with audiences and critics – the sci-fi epic has won no major precursors to speak of. Its recognition should come to Cuaron and in various technical categories.

American Hustle certainly has plenty of fans and director David O. Russell has been on a heckuva hot streak. The pic stands the second best chance of being the victor.

However, the fact is that Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave is undeniably the frontrunner and it has been for awhile. Slave has won a slew of precursors, including the Golden Globe for Best Drama. From an odds perspective, I’d put it this way:

12 Years a Slave: 75% chance of winning

American Hustle: 20% chance of winning

Gravity: 5% chance of winning

Predicted Winner: 12 Years a Slave

For a full breakdown of my picks, here ya go:

Picture – 12 Years a Slave

Director – Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Actor – Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Actress – Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Supporting Actor – Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Supporting Actress – Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Next weekend – I’ll have my final predictions in all categories before the big show. If any of the six major ones change in the next week (unlikely), I’ll act accordingly. Until then!

2014 Golden Globe Awards: Todd’s Predicted Winners

In four days, we’ll have the Hollywood Foreign Press bestow their honors to the film and television world at the Golden Globe Awards with return hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Readers of my blog will note that I’ve extensively and frequently been posting my Oscar predictions. I don’t pay nearly as much attention to the Globes, but I did want to put my two cents in and predict the winners in the picture, directing, and acting categories.

The Globes are different from the Oscars because categories are divided between Drama and Musical/Comedy categories for Picture, Actor, and Actress. Director and Supporting Actor and Actress are awarded regardless of genre. If you would like to read my detailed analysis of awards contenders, I suggest you look on the blog for my Oscar predictions posts. For the purposes of this post, I’ll simply predict who I think will Globes this Sunday and note the other nominees. I am noting my second choice if my primary choice doesn’t win in bold. I am not predicting the TV categories except for one: it should be an interesting showdown in Best Drama between the final season of “Breaking Bad” and first season of “House of Cards”, but ultimately I think Walter White and company win out.

And with that, my predictions:

BEST DRAMA

Predicted Winner: 12 Years a Slave

Other Nominees: Captain Phillips, Gravity, Philomena, Rush

BEST MUSICAL OR COMEDY

Predicted Winner: American Hustle

Other Nominees: Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Winner: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Other Nominees: Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Alexander Payne (Nebraska), David O. Russell (American Hustle)

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA

Predicted Winner: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Other Nominees: Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyer’s Club), Robert Redford (All is Lost)

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

Predicted Winner: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Other Nominees: Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks), Kate Winslet (Labor Day)

BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL OR COMEDY

Predicted Winner: Bruce Dern, Nebraska

Other Nominees: Christian Bale (American Hustle), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Joaquin Phoenix (Her)

BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL OR COMEDY

Predicted Winner: Amy Adams, American Hustle

Other Nominees: Julie Delpy (Before Midnight), Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said), Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Winner: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

Other Nominees: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Daniel Bruhl (Rush), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Winner: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Other Nominees: Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), June Squibb (Nebraska)

And there you have my predictions for your Golden Globe winners on Sunday!