As we ease into Christmas weekend several dates you should be aware of. In many ways, the whole Oscar race is being decided in the next two weeks.
Noms – Winners (key dates)
12/14 – 01/29 – SAG – Screen Actors Guild
01/03 – 01/21 – PG – Producers Guild
01/04 – 02/04 – ADG – Art Directors Guild
01/05 – 02/19 – WG – Writers Guild
01/05 – 02/18 – USC – USC Scripter
01/09 – 01/28 – DG – Directors Guild
01/09 – 02/07 – VES – Visual Effects Society
01/10 – 02/12 – ASC – American Society of Cinematographers
01/16 – 02/18 – ACE – American Cinema Editors
01/17 – 02/12 – BAFTA – British Academy of Film and Television Arts
01/19 – 02/18 – CAS – Cinema Audio Society
01/19 – 02/21 – CDG – Costume Designers Guild
01/20 – 02/19 – MPSE – Motion Picture Sound Editors
01/24 – 02/26 – AA – Oscars
The above dates (now on our sidebar) come from David Hanks’ really super great Big List.
Most importantly, though, two days after Christmas Oscar ballots will be mailed out. During that same time, the Producers Guild, Directors Guild and Writers guild members are also filling out their ballots if they haven’t already done so. I know one DGA member who has already cast their vote (for Hugo). That means, the responsible among them have already seen all of the films and have mailed their ballots, or did them online.
But many of them are waiting until these next few days to watch movies with the family and then decide on what films to vote for. The numbers are the numbers and majority rules. The DGA is around 9,000, the AMPAS is around 6,000 and the PGA is around 4,700 members. The SAG is around 100,000. By contrast, the groups voting in the critics awards are much smaller, probably nothing over, say, 300.
All of this to say that it all comes down to NOW.
As we do every year around this time we offer up our For Your Consideration for ballot voters. I am going to present one in every category and I encourage you to add yours in the comments. Hope springs eternal before those ballots sail away. We’ve nothing to lose except our self-respect, and that went out the window long ago.
While it seems pretty assured that The Artist, The Help, The Descendants, Hugo, Midnight in Paris and perhaps Tree of Life have their places carved out, there are three I’d like to make a play for. One has a pretty good chance already but the other two are wild cards.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – what the fuck, bro. Are they really going to let the entire series fade away unrecognized? Are they really going to say that $2,390,076,596 means nothing to Hollywood? Are they really going to say that all of these generations have no impact whatsoever on how movies get made now? In a season of movies aimed squarely at the target demo, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows delivered the best of the series with beautiful effects, a deeply felt story, and great acting all the way around.
Moneyball – there are few films that feel like perfect movies this year. But Moneyball is a perfect film. Maybe that’s because it took so long to bring it to the big screen. Maybe because it took passionate involvement and faith by Brad Pitt to get it made. Maybe because the Stan Chervin/Aaron Sorkin/Steve Zallion script has been perfected beyond belief. Maybe it’s the naturalistic style of the ensemble or the persnickety exacting direction of Bennett Miller but it’s hard to find fault with this movie. Because it doesn’t divide audiences people don’t seem to be taking sides for or against it and because of that it might get lost in the shuffle. It made a decent amount of change at the box office and currently has the best reviews of the year, along with Harry Potter, The Artist and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Moneyball is one of the best films of the year.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – yeah, it’s also Sony. Yeah, it’s also Scott Rudin. Yeah, it’s also David Fincher. But with a pulsating, unforgettable score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, with the performance of the year by Rooney Mara, with subject matter that has awakened women young and old, who cares if it didn’t exactly hit with the target demo? God knows there are already hundreds of films they can see this holiday season. And as for the critics, how do you measure any film up against Fincher’s last effort? You can’t, really. But on its own, Dragon Tattoo is the surprise of the year-end movies. Is it schmaltzy? No, so that makes it different. It’s a beautifully made thriller that, like most great films, takes a couple of viewings to fully appreciate. Sure, movies that take more than one viewing aren’t often Oscar’s picks, but give the film a chance. It isn’t The Social Network but it’s surely one of the year’s very best. Time will have to catch up with Fincher on these films but it will be highly regarded in retrospect. I promise.
We know that it’s coming down to Meryl Streep in the Iron Lady, Viola Davis in The Help, Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk About Kevin, Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs and Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn – these are all pretty much locked. I don’t know who you bump but I’d put in a bid for Ms. Rooney Mara for her ballsy, honest, dead-on portrayal of my kind of super hero. She gets shit for not being hot enough, and gets shit for being too hot. She gets shit for being a victim turned avenger, and she gets shit for not being tough enough. We women are used to that – we’re used to not being everybody’s cup of tea. Women get it much harder than men because they are judged by both men and women. Young men these days are used to performances that cater to their specific needs. But Mara’s Lisbeth Salander deliberately doesn’t do that. She can’t help how pretty she naturally is, but what we see on screen is a real person who isn’t ever going to live by anyone’s definition of who she should be. Dragon Tattoo is about many things, starting with the mystery that uncovered women defending themselves by stepping outside the law. But it’s also about the creepy family on that island, about Sweden, yet most of all, it’s about a girl.
We know that this category is mostly going to be filled with George Clooney, brilliant in The Descendants, Brad Pitt in Moneyball — maybe his best ever performance, Jean Dujardin in The Artist, Leonardo DiCaprio in J. Edgar (totally deserved) and Michael Fassbender in Shame (if they can really have the guts to go there). That is a wonderful lineup, certainly. But I’d also go to bat for:
Gary Oldman in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – Oldman has never been better in his understated role as George Smiley. Sure, it’s not as touchy feely as Oscar performances tend to be, and he’s not perhaps the most popular guy in the room. But as of yet, Oldman has gone completely unrecognized his entire career. This is really the role that he should finally get his first Oscar nomination for. Of course, you’re only as good as the guy standing next to you so who knows how it will all play out. But Oldman has more than paid his dues. More than that, he’s just amazingly good in Tinker, Tailor – controlled movements, haunting stories playing across his face at various times — no one could do that if they weren’t one of the best living actors, as Oldman is.
Woody Harrelson in Rampart – his role, again, isn’t fitting in with the sentimentalism of today — in fact, like Rooney Mara, it’s dark as dark can be. But Harrelson has never been better. He takes that role deep. Deep. Can he bump one of the five? And if so, which one? If only there were ten slots you could begin to get serious about actually rewarding the year’s best. Deciding on just five is impossible.
Margin Call took many years to write. It is tight as a drum. Can the writers recognize this? Hard to say but I don’t think any script got to the bottom of the Wall Street meltdown better. It starts out as a story about that moment in our history but it ends being about something bigger — how the rich keep getting richer and how single-minded the rest of us are, just caught up in the day to day of our lives, meanwhile, Rome burns.
Okay, Oscar watchers. How about you?