When I first started Oscarwatch back in 1999, there were a small number of critics groups. Mostly, there was New York and there was LA. The other groups existed, many of them, they just weren’t really that well known because we didn’t have a universal news delivery system 24/7 we had newspapers. And if you lived in a certain city, you would know about your city’s critics awards. Now we hear about everything. We look for a consensus among them.
We are waiting to hear from two major groups, now that the BFCA (Critics Choice) have announced. Tonight, or this afternoon for Californians, we will hear from the New York Film Critics Circle. We then wait on the National Society. Tomorrow morning, we hear from the HFPA (The Golden Globes). Exciting time. But since it’s all being packed into one giant snowball and thrown onto the wall, we have to kind of take it all with a huge grain of salt.¬† We have to start using our farming metaphors now – separating the wheat from the chaffe, and the cream rises to the top and all of that because I can tell you this much – with so many awards headed at them at once, the AMPAS are going to start all over with what they know.
Most of this isn’t going to matter. And anyone who sees either the Critics Choice or the Globe nominations as some sort of indicator of how Oscar is going to go has another think coming. In the end, some of it will match, but it will match because of the performances and the films themselves, not because a few hundred people voted that way.
Having said that, and knowing that none of this is a direct line to Oscar, let’s take a look at some of the movement we’re seeing — names that might be forgotten now that they seem to be disappearing off of these lists, or names that are popping up and deserve to be paid some attention.
5. Noomi Rapace for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Nice bit of liftoff for her. Although it seems to be coming at the expense of Lesley Manville for Another Year, one of the best performances of the year without question. Remind yourselves that the Academy voters are actors, not critics.
4. The Town seems to be hanging in there very well, hitting the AFI’s top ten and now the BFCA’s. Popping up in supporting actor and screenplay – not bad for this somewhat-little-movie-that-could. It’s one of the few I am personally rooting for, so seeing it pop up here, even though this all must be taken with a huge grain of salt, is more than a little thrilling (and I promise it isn’t just because I interviewed Ben Affleck, although one never knows – he was dangerously likable).
3. Blue Valentine and Conviction’s Sam Rockwell get a stay here and this could propel them through. But again, choosing six names for these categories is easy; choosing five is hard. They don’t release their vote counts anymore, although they used to.¬† So I suspect we would know better which is the weakest of the six if they did. But they don’t, BLANCHE, they don’t.
2. Even though it doesn’t lead here, a sound nod for the BFCA’s for The Social Network is the kind of thing you look. If it pops up in the guilds in these unexpected ways that shows broad support. The guilds matter much more, of course, than the critics ever do — but still, that enough voters liked the film to put it in this category shows they liked it a lot. The film is riding high after so many wins, but as we know, the race can always turn on a dime.
1. And lastly, Jeff Wells queries the members of the Gurus of Gold who firmly believe The King’s Speech is the film to beat for Best Picture. They all say that they never thought The King’s Speech would be a critics’ darling but that they always knew The Social Network would be. There are good movies and there are great movies. Your movie is only as good as the one it’s standing next to.¬† So, if The King’s Speech is going to be the winner, my Guru friends, please adjust your arguments accordingly to say The King’s Speech will win not because Oscar voters are too stupid to get why The Social Network IS such a brilliant film, but because The King’s Speech IS the better film. Make that argument and it just might stick.
Here is just a quick primer on how it often works, how it’s been working since I’ve been covering the race. You have one film. And if that one film has one challenger, it can sometimes be taken down. If it has more than one challenger, the people don’t like the one film will split their votes off accordingly (The Hurt Locker vs. Avatar/Precious/Up in the Air). You still have the one film, though. This year, you will likely have The Social Network and then you have The King’s Speech/Inception/Black Swan/Toy Story 3/The Fighter/The Town all drawing support. You still have the one film. You have to first narrow it to two.
But we’ve a long ways to go. We’ll have to see what sticks. Throw it on up there, baby.