Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Oscar Predictions: Directors and Writers

Today, we will look at the directors and the writers. They are even more important to the success or failure of a movie than the actors – but they don’t get the recognition from the public.

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
For Her: There is a real movement afoot of people who believe that it is long past time that a woman won the Best Director Oscar – something that has never happened before. Add to that, Bigelow made the most critically acclaimed film of the year, and unlike the other female nominees, she made a tough, muscular (dare I say masculine?), film in one of Oscar’s favorite genre – the war movie. The DGA award is the most important precursor, and she won it.
Against Her: The film didn’t make a lot of money – her film grossed significantly less than any of the other nominees in this category. Cameron did some truly groundbreaking work on Avatar, and because this is a pure ballot – not preferential like picture, the divisiveness of the film won’t hurt him as much here.

James Cameron, Avatar
For Him: Oscar loves success – and Cameron is the man behind the biggest movie in history at this point. He truly did push special effects into the next generation with his film. He is the only person here whose film itself is groundbreaking. He won the Globe, which certainly helps him.
Against Him: The film is divisive, and that could hurt him. Many remember what they felt was an egotistical Oscar speech the last time he won best director for Titanic (“I’m king of the world!”). The awards are lining up behind Bigelow, and Cameron himself lent her support when in his Globes speech he commented that he thought Kathryn was going to win – and deserved to.

Lee Daniels, Precious
For Him: Daniels deserves a lot of credit for Precious, as he took what could have been just another movie of the week for the Women’s Network, and turned it into one of the best reviewed, most loved films of the year – both with his work with the actors, and his visual style. There’s been a lot of talk about making Oscar history this year by making Bigelow the first woman to win this prize – but it should be noted that if Daniels won, he’d be the first African American.
Against Him: But is anyone really mentioning that this year, or are they all focused on Bigelow? Normally an African American being nominated here would be big news (has anyone other than John Singleton ever been nominated? I can’t think of any), but this year it simply isn’t. His film is probably the most divisive of any of the nominees, and I can see even big supporters of Precious looking somewhere else for Director. This is Daniels’ big breakthrough film as a director – and often they like to go with someone with some history behind them.

Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
For Him: Reitman received his second nomination in a row (and he’s only made 3 films!) for Up in the Air. Everything else seems so serious this year, but Up in the Air has more comedic elements than the other movies. His name is well known because of his father, and they will really want to give him an Oscar.
Against Him: Which they’ll do in the adapted screenplay category. Bigelow and Cameron are far out in front right now, and Up in the Air has faded a little bit down the stretch. By giving Reitman the Oscar for writing (like they have done in the past to directors like Alexander Payne, Sofia Coppola, Paul Haggis, Quentin Tarantino – the list goes on and on) they can still reward him for his great work this year.

Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
For Him: He has the biggest cast of any of the nominees, and he is the only one who had to juggle multiple storylines. His film is complex, yet exciting – no mean feat considering how much talk there is in the film. The film is made for film lovers, which presumably means Academy members.
Against Him: But, they can give him the Original screenplay Oscar and still regard him for a film they obviously loved. The film has detractors, and the violence will be off putting for some. Bigelow and Cameron are far ahead of the pack this year, and I doubt Tarantino can catch them.

Who Will Win: It really does come down to Bigelow vs. Cameron, but I think Bigelow has enough support to put her over the top for the win.

Who Should Win: Since Tarantino made my favorite film of the year, he is obviously my choice here. No complaints if Bigelow wins however.

Least of the Nominees: I just don’t think Lee Daniels is in the same league as the other directors. Yes, he made a TV movie of the week feel raw and emotional – but it’s still a TV movie of the week.

Best Adapted Screenplay
District 9 – Neil Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell
For Them: They wrote one of the best reviewed films of the year, and audiences loved it to. The Academy gave this film four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, so it is obvious that they liked the film.
Against Them: The nomination is going to have been reward enough. They are going up against three heavier hitters from the Best Picture line-up – and ones that garnered more praise for their screenplays.

An Education – Nick Hornby
For Him: Hornby is a well respected writer, and his screenplay for An Education has been praised all year long. It takes talent to essentially turn a magazine article into a fully well rounded movie – especially when you’re a man and the protagonist is a teenage girl.
Against Him: He is more well known as a novelist than a screenwriter. An Education has faded a little bit down the stretch. Plus, the charges that the movie is anti-Semitic all stem for his screenplay.

In the Loop – Jesse Armstrong/Simon Blackwell/Armando Iannucci/Tony Roche
For Them: They wrote one of the most quotable films of the year. Pretty much every other line is a zinger that is hilarious and smart. But they were still able to craft a movie that was intelligent about global politics.
Against Them: As the only nominee for a non Best Picture contender, it’s hard to drum up support. The fact that this the films only nomination certainly doesn’t help either. They are adapting their own TV show, so some will feel that that this is just a sitcom blown up for the big screen.

Precious – Geoffrey Fletcher
For Him: People have talked about the movie all year long. It took talent to take Sapphire’s book – as full of idiosyncrasies as it was – and turn it into a complete motion picture. Mo’Nique did a wonderful job acting – but it all started with his lines.
Against Him: The screenplay has gone largely unnoticed this season – somewhat surprising. Everyone talks about Hornby with An Education, and Reitman with Up in the Air, but no one seems to mention this one. Strange.

Up in the Air – Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner
For Them: This is a real opportunity for the Academy to give Jason Reitman an Oscar – something they want to do. They all know he doesn’t stand a chance for director, so if they want to give him an Oscar, for a film that they obviously love this is their chance. They took a rather cynical book, and turned it something much, much more.
Against Them: There has been a screenwriting controversy surrounding this movie all season – as Reitman felt he should get sole credit for the work. The Academy may not want to see their annual back slapping party turn into an awkward moment.

Will Win: I really do not see how anyone is going to overtake Up in the Air – which is easily the most praised screenplay in this category this year.

Should Win: For me, In the Loop is far and away the best written movie of this bunch of nominees.

Least of the Nominees: I think most of the credit for Precious has to go to director Lee Daniels, and his cast, who turned Fletcher’s screenplay into something much deeper than it was on the page.

Best Original Screenplay
The Hurt Locker – Mark Boal
For Him: He wrote the most acclaimed film of the year, and the movie I think will probably win the top prize. The movie is a wonderful mixture of character development, and suspense, which made the film much deeper than many war films.
Against Him: When people talk about the film, they talk about Bigelow first, Renner second and Boal right near the bottom. It was not an easy screenplay for him to write, but he has not quite gotten enough credit this year. The fact that he is going up against Tarantino doesn’t help him.

Inglourious Basterds – Quentin Tarantino
For Him: They obviously love the movie, as it got 8 nominations total. He is also nominated for director, but he has almost no chance at winning that one, so this would be a nice consolation prize. The movie is all about the writing – the different languages, the dialogue, and the intense sequences. Tarantino is one of the best screenwriters in the world.
Against Him: The movie does have some detractors, so they could go somewhere else. The Hurt Locker is riding high right now, and could carry Boal right along with it. Since Tarantino already one this Oscar for 1994’s Pulp Fiction, they may not feel the need to give him another one.

The Messenger – Oren Moverman & Allesandro Camon
For Them: If the Academy wants to give the award to an Iraq war movie that is all about the dialogue and character development, and not intense action sequences, than The Messenger is the film to give it to.
Against Them: The film didn’t get into the best picture lineup this year – the only nominee here that didn’t. This was a surprising nomination, and surprise nomination doesn’t lead to Oscar wins.

A Serious Man – Joel & Ethan Coen
For Them: The Coens are loved by the Academy. They have already won two screenwriting Oscars for Fargo and No Country for Old Men, and A Serious Man is a brilliant little screenplay by the brothers. The film did sneak into the best picture lineup.
Against Them: This is just not the Coen’s year. They won just two years ago for No Country, so the Academy is going to look to spread the wealth a little bit.

Up – Pete Docter & Bob Peterson & Tom McCarthy
For Them: Pixar has become somewhat of a perennial nominee in this category – with Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E and now this one all getting nominated. Yet they have never won the prize – some will say their time has come. This is the first of that batch to break into the Best Picture lineup.
Against Them: The fact that they have never won proves that the Academy still looks down at animation for wins in major categories. I think the other films would have snuck into a 10 strong best picture lineup as well – and Up would not have been nominated in a five wide field.

Who Will Win: It comes down to Boal vs. Tarantino, but I think the Academy will want to give it to Quentin to reward him for both writing and directing one of their favorite films of the year.

Who Should Win: Tarantino’s screenplay is the best written, most complex, and most quotable of the year. Need I say more?

Least of the Nominees: This is actually a strong field – with five great nominations, so I really don’t want to pick one. But if I had to, I’d say The Messenger is just a notch below the work of the other four.

No comments:

Post a Comment