Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oscar Update: Directing and Writing

Best Director
I am interested to see if a lone director can still get nominated even if their film does not. Instinct would tell you know, but the directors have been known to branch out in the past and give nominations to films that didn’t stand a chance in the Best Picture lineup. But my guess is that all five director nominees this year will be for Best Picture nominees.

1. David Fincher for The Social Network – Your frontrunner for the moment, although this could easily change. Since the finally nominated him for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, he should find it easier to be nominated now – and with an all but guaranteed nomination for Picture, he gets in easily.
2. Danny Boyle for 127 Hours – He won for his last film, Slumdog Millionaire, so he has become an Oscar favorite. I have a hard time believing that they’ll nominate the film without him – since it is the kind of direction that gets noticed.
3. Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech – His film has been proclaimed a frontrunner, but this still may be a battle for him – as he is not a name director, and this is the type of film that can nominated without a director. Still, I think he can get in.
4. Christopher Nolan for Inception – He was snubbed, along with his film, for The Dark Knight so that could mean the Academy feels like they owe him a nomination. Or it could mean they don’t really like him. Still, this is an unquestionable directorial achievement.
5. Peter Weir for The Way Back – A hugely respected, Oscar veteran who has never won the big prize. Word on the film is good, so if they put together a good campaign on his behalf, he could wind up your frontrunner.
6. Mike Leigh for Another Year – He has squeezed into this category a few times, and given that Another Year in looking like a Picture nominee, it could easily happen again.
7. Joel & Ethan Coen for True Grit – The Academy has finally full on embraced the Coens – yet will they be able to get in for a Western remake, no matter how good it turns out to be.
8. Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan – Has been knocking on the door for a while now trying to get in. Word on the film is great, although it has a struggle to get into the Picture line-up. Your most likely lone director nominee.
9. Clint Eastwood for Hereafter – I never count out Clint, who the Academy simply loves, no matter what the critics have to say. Still, this will be an uphill battle for him.
10. Lisa Cholodenko for The Kids Are All Right – The film is looking secure for Picture, acting and screenplay, so it could push her into the lineup as well. Being a woman is no longer a strike against you – but the type of film this is may be.

Plus: David O. Russell for The Fighter needs the film to get in, and to overcome the feeling in Hollywood that he is a complete jerk. Ben Affleck for The Town still needs to find respect from his peers as a director. Lee Unkrich for Toy Story 3 will get a campaign, but since no one has ever been nominated for a animated film, it’s a tough get. John Cameron Mitchell for Rabbit Hole has some respect, and indie cred, but I think he’ll have a tough time cracking the line-up no matter what noms the film gets. Debra Granik for Winter’s Bone did a masterful job with this film, but it may be too small, too chilly for Oscar tastes. Nigel Cole for Made in Dagenham has made an undeniable audience pleaser, but even when they do get in, the directors often don’t. Aaron Schedeider for Get Low will need the film to squeeze into the line-up – a tough get – to even be consider. Sofia Coppola for Somewhere is a past nominee, but her film may be too slight to edge in. Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu for Biutiful is a director like Boyle who always makes his presence known – but the film could be too dark for the Academy.

Best Original Screenplay
This is probably the weaker of the two categories – but also the harder of the two for their to be much movement. You can pretty much count on the top 3, perhaps 4, to get in.

1. The King’s Speech (David Speidler) – A much easier get than director, since people come out raving about the dialogue, which is said to be hilarious. Your frontrunner so far.
2. Another Year (Mike Leigh) – Leigh has got in many times, despite his improversational style of shooting, even when the film doesn’t crack the lineup. This one looks like it will, so he’s all but guaranteed.
3. The Kids Are All Right (Stuart Blumberg & Lisa Cholodenko) – Is more of a writer’s movie than a directors one. Hard to imagine the film missing this nomination which should be easy.
4. Inception (Christopher Nolan) – The direction is superb, but it all started with a tightly constructed screenplay. Tougher to get, because the film is all plot, but should sneak in.
5. Black Swan (Mary Heyman & Andres Heinz & John J. McLaughlin) – Easier than Picture or Director, the writers often embrace somewhat strange films but this one could easily fall to something else.
6. Made in Dagenham (Bill Ivory) – An audience pleasing hit, that seems witty through and through. Is it perhaps too lightweight for the writers?
7. How Do You Know (James L. Brooks) – They love James L. Brooks, so until I hear otherwise, I will keep him in mind.
8. The Fighter (Paul Attanasio & Lewis Colich & Eric Johnson & Scott Silver & Paul Tamsay) – Screenplays by committee are harder to get into the lineup. But the presence of Paul Attanasio should help to offset that. Still don’t know the quality of the movie though.
9. Somewhere (Sofia Coppola) – She won this prize in the past, so if others contenders drop out, she could move up.
10. Get Low (Chris Provenzano, C. Gaby Mitchell, Scott Seeke) – More of an actors film, but they had to have good material to work with – this could move up as well.

Plus: Biutiful (Armando Bo, Nicolás Giacobone, Alejandro González Iñárritu) is perhaps too dark and too foreign, but the writers don’t mind that as much. Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis, Cami Delavigne) is going to struggle if it keeps its NC-17 rating. Hereafter (Peter Morgan) is by a writer they like, but there are questions about the quality. Conviction (Pamela Gray) is perhaps too by the numbers for the writers. All Good Things (Marcus Hunchey, Marc Smerling) is a film I still don’t know much about. Due Date (Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel) could sneak in if it’s as funny as The Hangover. Morning Glory (Aline Brosh McKenna) could sneak in, but needs to seen as more than a romcom. Stone (Angus MacLachlan) has some supporters, but also many detractors. The Company Men (John Wells) is staying fairly quiet right now, but that could change.

Best Adapted Screenplay
A competitive category this year, which is only going to get more crowded.

1. The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin) – I really don’t see anyone challenging him for the win come February – now matter how the film does in the nominating round.
2. Toy Story 3 (Micharl Arndt) – Should be an easy get, as they often embrace Pixar – just not often in this category.
3. Rabbit Hole (David Lindsay-Abaire) – Features a playwrite adapting his own Pultizer winning play, but expanding it wonderfully. A writers dream.
4. True Grit (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen) – They have embraced the brothers more than any other group – and if this one is as good as it looks, should be easy.
5. 127 Hours (Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy) – May face a harder battle than people think – all the attention goes to the directing and Franco, but could well sneak in
6. Winters Bone (Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini & Daniel Woodrell) . – Took a sparse novel and turned into a great film. They are really hoping to get the Frozen River nod this year.
7. The Way Back (Peter Weir) – Perhaps more of a directors film, but if it becomes a major player, can easily move up.
8. The Town (Ben Affleck & Peter Craig & Aaron Stockard) – Needs to get more support in the big categories to make a move.
9. Barney’s Version (Michael Konyves) – Just like The Town, needs support in other categories to move up.
10. Never Let Me Go (Alex Garland) – The respect for the source material is unquestionable, but the film maybe too chilly.

Plus: How to Train Your Dragon (William Davies, Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders) is getting a real push, but two animated film in the same category? For Colored Girls (Nzingha Stewart) was a hugely popular play, but questions of quality are still out there. Tamara Drewe (Moira Buffini) is probably not classy enough to squeeze in. Fair Game (Jez Butterworth, John Butterworth) needs to make some noise in the other categories. The Next Three Days (Paul Haggis) looks like a regular thriller, but I’ve learned not to underestimate Haggis’ appeal. Love & Other Drugs (Marshall Herskovitz & Charles Randolph & Edward Zwick) needs to be more than just a romcom. The Ghost Writer (Robert Harris & Roman Polanski) is a directors film more than writing, but it does have some passionate supporters.

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