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Premature Adulation – On the Hunt for Best Pic in June

Peter over at AwardsCorner has done a fairly exhaustive rundown of Best Picture contenders and all I want to do is sharpie all over it. But I think it’s a good starting place. You might be able to just work with the first section he has up called “Potential Frontrunners.” I will list them here and provide some commentary without sounding like too much of a defeatist.

When the hype comes from a film sight unseen one is only asking for trouble. Or so I have learned from these many years watching this race.

So it is with a bit of disappointment that I report the news that the web is seeing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as the defacto frontrunner. To this I say: why? All that can do is set the film up for unrealistic expectations (maybe it will get a nomination out of all of that hype) — but moreoever, it guarantees that the film will not BE the frontrunner simply because people are putting it in that place now, before anyone has seen it, based on the trailer and it being Fincher, etc.

But I see now that many people ARE putting it there now, so it’s not surprising that Peter has chosen to do so also.

Why do I care, by the way? Here is my rant: Because I do. Because I think Fincher got royally screwed in one of the biggest embarrassments I’ve ever seen in the history of the DGA — AMPAS it is to be expected, but the DGA? There is no need to continually drag Fincher through the Oscar mess. If his film is truly the best film of the year and the critics say so, we all know the industry and the Academy are going to go for something more palatable, less Fincher-like, more general-audience friendly, sappy-est..non-woman with a pierced nipple and a punk rock hairdo.

I hope the movie is great. That is as far as it goes for me. I’m not quite ready to do the Oscar dance with Fincher again.

As follows, Peter’s list:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (previously #2)
It could be just temporary buzz, but the fact is, the trailer ROCKS and Fincher is widely considered overdue after last year. If the film will be as good as the trailer indicates, we could be back to the new, edgy wave of best picture winners after last year’s unexpected return to the ‘Oscar-movie’.
See above.  Drop it way down the list.  Let it be a movie first before it must be fit into that box. #8

The Tree of Life (previously #3)
The reviews are truly excellent, although the film was supposed to divide critics. It didn’t and that’s a very good sign. It also won the Palme d’Or and thanks to the popular stars, it should be doing solid arthouse-business in the coming months.
Tree of Life will be lucky to be nominated.  It is not an Academy-friendly film.  If it is nominated, it will be the weirdest film ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. This isn’t the ’70s, unfortunately.  Tech nods for sure – cinematography, art direction, score.  I would put it in the dark horse category right now.

War Horse (previously #1)
I still think this will emerge as a remarkably strong player, I’m just not entirely sure that after The King’s Speech, the Academy would go for another obvious ‘Oscar-movie’.
This would be my number 1.  If all goes as planned, here is your Best Picture winner. Of course they said that about Munich.  This would be my bet, though.

J. Edgar (previously #5)
December release date + Eastwood + DiCaprio + biopic = Oscar…right ?
A safe bet.  Clint Eastwood, Warner Bros.  Absolutely.  A contender all the way. #6

Hugo Cabret (previously #4)
Some footage would be welcome now, but until then the Scorsese-name will be enough to keep this one high on the list.
I thought this was animated but I’m wrong – so yes, if it isn’t animated — a definite contender on Scorsese’s name alone although remember Shutter Island.  🙁

Carnage (previously #8)
It has a distributor, a confirmed Venice premiere, a Tony-winning play as the source material, 3 Oscar-winners in the cast and Polanski behind the camera…it would be foolish NOT to consider it seriously.
Um, well there is the little matter of Roman Polanski still to be considered in a shrill, hysterical culture.  I don’t know if enough time has passed….but yes, what a great play, what a hell of a performance piece.  If it is good enough it might get a SAG ensemble nod too.

A Dangerous Method (previously #7)
It sounds like Cronenberg’s most ‘Oscary’ project to date (period biopic / love triangle), hopefully it will result his first Academy Award nomination, as well.
Yeah, we’ll see.  This is another one I’m skeptical about – like David Lynch, and to an extent Fincher (the Davids), his movies aren’t the stuff that Oscar dreams are made on.  Keep an open mind, of course, but like Dragon Tattoo – I’m hoping for a great movie here before I’m hoping for an Oscar movie.

Midnight in Paris (previously #24)
A big jump for Woody Allen’s latest which exceeded expectations and is widely considered one of his best films of recent years. The reviews are great and the Box Office is extremely promising. The early release date could be a problem in the long run, but taking everything into account, there WILL be a comedy in the category and for now, this has the best shot at getting that slot.
I’m starting to see this is as the first major contender of the year.  It being such a money maker, and it being one of Woody’s best in years, I see it doing very well in the race.  So for me this would zoom up right to number 3 (no, it can’t win but most likely to be nominated).

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (previously #9)
Although there is still no release date set, I am kind of expecting a Toronto premiere and a Holiday release, and if that happens – and Daldry once again delivers – this could take the ‘heart slot’, if there is such a thing.
This movie, if it’s as good as the screenplay, will win Best Picture.  It will come very close to winning.  It has everything and I mean EVERYTHING an Oscar Best Picture winner needs.  It all rests, unfortunately, on the performance of the kid.  If he’s good enough, if he pulls it off, the thing is golden.  This would zoom up to number 2 for me.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II (previously #10)
I’m sticking by this one, I firmly believe that considering how consistent the franchise has been with critics and audiences alike, giving a best picture nomination to the final film would be the perfect – and more importantly, perfectly logical – way of awarding the decade-old phenomenon as a whole.
I really think this is finally the one to get a Best Pic nod.  While it might not end up being particularly great on its own, shouldn’t the series be rewarded on the whole?  With ten slots, it seems very likely.  This is my #7.

The Descendants (previously #6)
Loved the source material and a Payne-Clooney collaboration definitely sounds tailor-made for the Academy, so I still think it has an excellent shot at landing a best picture nomination…I’m just not that sure it will be the easy ride (top6) I first expected.
Yes, this is my number 5.  I really do think it’s going to be good. I hope it’s good. And yes, Academy-friendly for sure.

The Iron Lady (previously #43)
The biggest jumper of the bunch. That’s how much landing a killer distributor HELPS a contender. The Weinsteins will campaign the hell out of this one and since Meryl Streep WILL give a powerhouse-performance, they could make it look like the whole film is as great as her turn even if it isn’t. One thing is for sure : after The King’s Speech, the Weinsteins have experience how to handle the biopic of a controversial British leader.
I would never stand between this movie and the Oscar race.  It is going to have to really suck, which it may do considering its director, but I have a feeling there is going to be an overseer on this one and it will be very good.  So yeah, #4.

Beginners (previously #21)
Critics love it and the studio did secure a best picture nomination last year for a similar film : The Kids are all right was also a summer comedy with a gay storyline featuring popular actors.
Possibly but are we talking Focus Features here?  They made all the difference with Kids.  Will keep an open mind but this would be a very very long shot for me right now.

My week with Marilyn (previously #14)
The Weinsteins could have a great year, they have two biopics of two of the most famous icons of the 20th century. Hopefully both films will be actually good to great and if that will be the case, they won’t pick a favourite.
Thinking Best Actress maybe – not sure about Picture yet — so it would go after my top ten probably.  But yeah, always worth keeping an eye on Weinsteins joints.

Wuthering Heights (previously #15)
If there were only one whisper of (positive) early word, I would put it in my top10 without any hesitation. That’s how strong my hunch is about this one : the Venice-premiere, the late release date, the source material, the brilliant yet underrated female director, the British-factor all scream Oscar to me.
This would be way down on my long shots list.

Of the others listed on Peter’s post, I would pull out these titles:

Super 8
Sci-fi…early release date…no stars…wait a second! Same as District 9 and that pulled off a best picture nomination. So I guess we shouldn’t rule out this one just yet.
This could be the big movie of the summer and therefore could make the leap to the Big Five. #9

The Artist
Cannes put it on the map, now we’ll see whether it can stay on the radar or not.
Absolutely a strong contender. Do not discount this movie. I saw it – it has a great shot.  It is a charmer.#10

We bought a Zoo
I recently revisited Almost Famous and it made me realize how great Cameron Crowe is when he IS getting it right. Hopefully it will be more ‘Jerry Maguire’ than ‘Elizabethtown’.
Yeah, you know, what the hell.  Almost Famous would have made it in with ten. In a walk. My alternate

So, to recap, if it were me – here would be my top contenders right now — based on Peter’s jumping off point…yes, I realize I am doing exactly what I say is a futile move…but oh well, shoot me in the face.

1. War Horse
2. Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close
3.  Midnight in Paris
4. The Iron Lady
5. J. Edgar
6.  The Descendents
7. Harry Potter
8.  Dragon Tattoo
9. Super 8
10. The Artist

And then the other films mentioned here would figure in.  That is how I would do it if I believed in such a thing as sight unseen. I have only seen The Artist and Midnight in Paris and both films are worthy for slots in the Big Ten.