Pre-Nominations Thumbsucker

The Original BJ
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Re: Pre-Nominations Thumbsucker

Postby The Original BJ » Sat Jan 21, 2017 10:01 pm

To start with the acting races, I see all four categories as being somewhat unique in makeup at the moment.

Supporting Actress strikes me as the one with very little wiggle room at all. Four of the performers -- Davis, Williams, Harris, Kidman -- seem very strong to me, in the kind of roles that you watch and instantly think, that's getting a nomination. The fifth spot seemed to be pretty wide open...until Octavia Spencer got both Globe and SAG nods. This isn't to say the category is locked up -- I could still easily see a situation where Janelle Monáe swapped in for her costar as the Hidden Figures representative -- but I don't see all too many other options on the horizon, and I don't view the core contenders as being that vulnerable.

Lead Actress feels like a category that will be difficult to predict 5/5, but not because there's so much room for wild surprises -- there are just too many strong candidates already on the table, and some have to be left out. I'd say Stone and Portman are both sure things, though the recent chatter that Portman could somehow miss for a performance that superb is giving me unneeded panic. Adams is in an enviable spot -- she's got all the precursors she needs, and is attached to a film likely to do well -- but could still find herself squeezed out if another candidate rises. I tend to think Huppert will make it in, but I do still have my concerns that the subject matter of Elle could be a deciding factor in a race this tight, and don't think she's a sure thing. It seems to me that there's probably room for only one of Streep/Bening/Negga, but I play musical chairs in my head trying to determine who is most likely. A Blunt nom wouldn't come from nowhere, but the movie's reviews were SO poor, I really chalk the SAG nom up to the fact that her movie was just more widely SEEN by that group than something like Elle or 20th Century Women. As for Henson, her movie is certainly having its moment at the right time, but is that performance really going to get enough #1 votes in a lineup this competitive?

Lead Actor seems about moderately ripe for an upset nominee, once you get past Affleck/Washington/Gosling. There's been some recent talk that Gosling might be knocked off, but that seems crazy to me -- he's attached to the likely nomination leader, has been building up credit for a second nomination for a decade now, and is competing in a pretty thin field. Mortensen and Garfield seem WAY more vulnerable to upset, though from who, it's hard to know. Joel Edgerton seems the most likely candidate -- he'd be as decent a ballot-filler as they would -- but it's possible another dark horse rises.

Supporting Actor feels like the category that's most likely to have a nominee we just haven't considered, or have barely considered beyond wishful thinking. I agree Ali and Bridges seem the most certain. Patel feels pretty solid to me -- I think his Lion work is WAY above his Slumdog Millionaire turn, and don't view his evidence of missing there as any bad sign. I'm very much hoping the Manchester pull will carry Hedges along, especially because he's so strong, but acknowledge his age is a hurdle. Grant seems most vulnerable of the SAG slate, given the lightweight nature of his movie and the fact that it's well outside the Best Picture hunt. And then there are a ton of candidates -- Taylor-Johnson if the Globe win proves prophetic, Shannon given that they've gone for him before, Costner if his movie's success carries him in, one of the other Moonlight guys if voters realize Ali wasn't the only one doing impressive work there, or the potentials even further out on the fringe that Mister Tee mentions. Or someone we aren't thinking of at all. Last year's surprises in this category -- Ruffalo and Hardy -- were from movies solidly in the main races, but no one much considered them likely at this point.

Also, a word on actors who might show up in lead or support. I view Viola Davis as the least likely to be upgraded, simply for the reason Vikander/Mara showed up in support last year -- she's going to get way more #1 votes in support, mainly because it's so clear she'll win in a walk there, and I don't see voters having much resistance to setting the stage for that happening. (This is a conversation for another post, but I also view Davis as being not as clear-cut a fraud case as Vikander/Mara were last year.) Patel and Grant, though, strike me as more possible, simply because I don't imagine either will be near the top of the supporting actor lineup, and the lead male category is so thin. I could see a situation where Grant ended up the 5th-place Best Actor nominee, without getting enough votes to crack Supporting Actor at all, resulting in a surprise upgrade.

As for Best Picture, I'm still wondering if we get fewer Best Picture nominees this year. The top candidates seem to be hogging so much of the oxygen, and the second-tier slate just doesn't seem that strong in Oscar terms, I wonder if enough movies will cross the threshold to get us 9 (or even 8) nominees.

Director is another category where I think there's room for a wild surprise, given how so many of the second-tier Best Picture candidates don't seem like lone director-type nominees. It's possible that surprise is someone with another movie viewed as in the conversation, like Pablo Larraín (PLEASE!) or Martin Scorsese. But I also wonder if the director's branch, which already had a history of elevating people like Fernando Meirelles and Pedro Almodóvar, and which invited a good amount of international directors this year, might find someone even crazier, like Maren Ade, Park Chan-wook, or Paul Verhoeven, to shock us.

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Re: Pre-Nominations Thumbsucker

Postby nightwingnova » Sat Jan 21, 2017 7:55 pm

I'll agree that Garfield doesn't count. Anyone who plays a character over 21 doesn't count.

Greg wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:Lucas Hedges is, in my mind, a true 50/50 candidate: will he be a coat-tail nominee to a best picture contender/best actor favorite, or another adolescent taken for granted and left out (a la Shailene Woodley, Andrew Garfield)?


Although Garfield was 26 when he shot the social network.
Last edited by nightwingnova on Sun Jan 22, 2017 1:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pre-Nominations Thumbsucker

Postby Greg » Sat Jan 21, 2017 6:29 pm

Mister Tee wrote:Lucas Hedges is, in my mind, a true 50/50 candidate: will he be a coat-tail nominee to a best picture contender/best actor favorite, or another adolescent taken for granted and left out (a la Shailene Woodley, Andrew Garfield)?


Although Garfield was 26 when he shot the social network.

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Pre-Nominations Thumbsucker

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Jan 21, 2017 4:18 pm

I didn’t know whether to start up a new thread, or add all this to the Final Predictions thread. I decided to break new ground, because mostly that thread consists of people’s lists, and I thought my meandering thoughts would interfere with the flow. But I expect to reference some remarks people made in that thread.

In fact, I’ll start with flipp’s observation: that everyone seems to be offering the same damn acting nominees. This of course happens more and more these days, as bloggers work from the same lists for months, and reinforce one another’s tunnel vision. It didn’t help that, this year, in many places the competition’s a bit thin – a few deserving candidates at the top, but not much of a depth chart – so the first released sets of nominations (from SAG, the Broadcasters, the Globes) worked almost exclusively from those lists, reinforcing the idea these are the only candidates out there. These prognosticators, of course, often are wrong at the margins (remember how universally they fell for Jennifer Aniston/Cake?), and I think they might be more wrong than usual this year, because of a fact few are mentioning: a later voting cutoff date. Nominations are arriving 9-10 days later than in the past two years, giving voters that much additional time to make their way through screeners. This may not seem like a ton of slack, but when dealing with a flood of screeners, another week-plus (with the holidays over) can make a great difference, particularly to late releases. The past two years, with the early deadline, brought us nomination lists that generally stuck close to conventional wisdom. The two years prior, though -- with deadlines similar to this year’s – there was significant divergence from the blogger template in acting categories (notably in ’13) and directing ‘(the ’12 earthquake). So, I’m thinking the favorites being currently set out may be contradicted more than people expect.

On Best Picture: If ever a year didn’t call for the expanded slate, this is it. We have three clear contenders – La La, Moonlight, Manchester – that form the core of the race. Arrival ranks a little below – a B+ -- but is likely next in line for a nod, in gratitude for both being novel AND making money. After that, in a pre-‘09 year, one entry to fill out the ballot would be all we’d need – maybe Lion, Harvey Weinstein yet again defying box office gravity and slow-releasing a crowd-pleaser; Hell or High Water, in acknowledgement of its surprising box office power; or Hidden Figures, for turning into a commercial juggernaut right as voters are marking ballots. That all three of those will now likely be placed onto the ballot feels redundant…and anything beyond them is blatant padding. We know, though, that one or two more will probably make it. Which ones? After the Broadcasters and Globes, Hacksaw Ridge seemed like the real thing, but its lackluster showing at the Guilds – missing both WGA & DGA – makes it far more iffy. Fences? It’s got points on the positive side of the ledger -- SAG Ensemble, AFI, PGA and WGA (albeit in a limited field) -- but its near-shut-out from BAFTA suggests its popularity has limits. Two weeks ago, I’d have completely dismissed Nocturnal Animals, thinking it just way too nasty for Oscar voters, but its (to me) remarkably strong precursor run makes me wonder if this could be another Foxcatcher – a sort of arty movie I disliked, which somehow slipped through with the usually more populist Academy (or at least a big enough segment thereof). Finally: despite all the fun journalists and bloggers are having with the notion, I don’t believe in a Deadpool nomination, any more than I did when it came to Star Trek or Bridesmaids. The film might get some below the line nods – make-up seems a gimme – but I don’t see it invading the best picture slate.

As Italiano more or less said in the other thread, when it comes to acting nominees, even the surprises tend toward predictability – names just about have to have turned up somewhere earlier in the season to have a shot. This is a fairly recent phenomenon. Even in the SAG era, there were times when Nominations Morning brought new names onto the scene: Edward Norton ’98, Sean Penn ’99. Both Marcia Gay Harding in 2000 and Shohreh Aghdashloo in 2003 had won the NY Critics’ prize, and then were not cited even one other time till Oscar nominations were read. Anonymous is correct that most recent surprises are either coat-tailers (Maggie Gyllenhaal ’09/Jonah Hill both times) or former nominees (Tommy Lee Jones ’07/Javier Bardem ‘10/Jacki Weaver ‘12). But there are still occasional shockers from roughly nowhere: Quvenzhane Wallis ’12, Gary Oldman ’11, Michael Shannon ’08. I’ll never lose my hope of such things coming about – especially in a year when the template is depressingly mundane.

To the specifics:

Actor. okri is correct: the category seems like 5 slots for only 3 real contenders – or even 2: Gosling, for all his film’s popularity, might not have cracked a deeply-competitive slate, like 2013’s. The rest, beyond Affleck/Washington/Gosling, seem close to random seat-fillers. As Mark Harris pointed out, he gets more quickly to an 8th choice under supporting actor than 4th in lead actor. (Which is why I suggested Hugh Grant chose the wrong year for category fraud. Could voters move him, a la Winslet ’08?) Most appear to have settled on Mortensen/Garfield for those last two spots -- I’m not sure why; either feel like a light breeze could blow them off the branch. Much as I didn’t care for Loving, I find Joel Edgerton more memorable. The great success Sully had at the box office doesn’t seem to have given it much Guild propulsion, but it could, still, sneak Tom Hanks onto the ballot. And, I agree with what (I believe) Sabin said elsewhere: Michael Keaton would have been a more fun candidate – and, looking today, he appears to be getting stronger reviews than many of the favorites. (This is Harvey’s dark side: at this point, he can whip his sentiment-for-the-old-folks’ efforts to unexpected Oscar and box office heights… but everything else, it seems he buries. There’s no excuse for as solid a best actor hopeful as Keaton to get such a grudging release.) Finally: If you’re looking for a real long-shot – what about Colin Farrell in The Lobster? In a sense, he’s there in plain sight -- he did get the comedy Globe mention – but I don’t think anyone’s really considering that his film’s cult popularity could move him onto the big list.

Actress. Emma Stone is of course beyond certain. I hear a few people murmuring Portman could miss, based on her film’s precursor shortfall. But her performance has never been left out anywhere, and she’s in fact won many of those second/third-tier “critics’ groups” I hate so much; for someone with such a profile to miss would be pretty unprecedented. Amy Adams appears next in line after these two…though, oddly, I’m so accustomed to Adams being a long-shot for nomination that I almost mistrust her better-positioned status this time around. Most seem to be going with those three, then settling on Isabelle Huppert/Meryl Streep to fill out the ballot. I question the apparently universal belief that Streep’s clarion call at the Golden Globes was so revered it will be rewarded with a pointless nomination here. I LIKED Streep’s work in Florence Foster Jenkins – more than some of her recent nominations -- but there are other candidates either more deserving or for whom the nomination would offer greater benefit. On balance, I think this would be a good year for Streep to miss. Who might replace her? Ruth Negga would be a popular choice, and Annette Bening, as I said when talking about her film, gives one of her best performances. A late release like 20th Century Women is exactly the sort of film that can benefit from this year’s extended deadline. And speaking of late releases…Taraji P. Henson, like everything connected with Hidden Figures, is peaking at the right time, and might muscle her way onto the ballot on sheer enthusiasm. Finally, we need to at least consider Emily Blunt. I assume everyone’s putting her in the “Yeah…that won’t happen” category – certainly my first inclination – but it’s worth noting that she got the two nominations (SAG and BAFTA) that come from industry people, so maybe we shouldn’t erase her so blithely.

Supporting actor. People declaring this category set in stone is especially annoying, because there seem so many possibilities. Obviously, Mahershala Ali & Jeff Bridges are locked in, deservedly so. But, after that, there’s lots of room for debate. Dev Patel being presented as sure-fire supporting nominee in a movie where he’s really a lead has a sense of deja vu hanging over it – he didn’t make it his previous time up, and Lion can’t hold a candle to Slumdog Millionaire for overall strength. Lucas Hedges is, in my mind, a true 50/50 candidate: will he be a coat-tail nominee to a best picture contender/best actor favorite, or another adolescent taken for granted and left out (a la Shailene Woodley, Andrew Garfield)? Hugh Grant has the advantage of picking up both SAG & BAFTA mentions (reminder: so did Idris Elba), as well as a Globe nod in lead, but he still seems iffy – possibly reliant on a Streep wave in lead actress. Nocturnal Animals, if it’s as improbably in the race as it seems, could generate a mention for either Michael Shannon or Globe surprise Aaron Taylor-Johnson – and we have to acknowledge that stat of Globe winners almost always repeating with AMPAS. Kevin Costner has what looks like the biggest hit movie of the bunch, and might get a comeback nod. Finally, because without hope we’re nothing, I offer my own salute to three performers -- Ralph Fiennes, Tracy Letts, and Stephen McKinley Henderson – whose work has got little or no prize mention to date, but would each strike me as eminently deserving.

Supporting actress is a thinner crop. Viola Davis/Michelle Williams/Naomie Harris seem fully locked; omission of any of them would bring gasps (or would have, if publicists weren’t now barred from the scene). Most people seem to be saying Nicole Kidman is equally certain; not having seen the film, I have no opinion on the matter. But if she is nailed down, we’re down to only one open slot. Spencer seems to be the near-universal pick for that opening – it seems a lazy pick, but most everyone’s glommed onto it. And they could be right: Robert Duvall was in a similar position two years ago, and came through. On the other hand: Jennifer Aniston. Who might be Spencer’s possible replacements? Greta Gerwig could be a tag-along to an Annette Bening surge (or even survive where her putative coat-tail doesn’t, due to lesser competition). And Janelle Monae seems to be getting solid response for Hidden Figures, as well, and might out-pace her co-star. (I think Helen Mirren predictions are a mirage, based on her over-frequent appearances in recent year precursors. I even enjoyed Eye in the Sky, and thought Mirren was fine in it…but it’s nothing Oscar-level. If she was going to get Academy consideration, she’d surely have shown up at SAG, where she’s over-performed so often.)

Director. BAFTA omission notwithstanding, I think Barry Jenkins, along with Damien Chazelle, is dead certain. Kenneth Lonergan -- though no one would mistake him for a visual stylist -- doesn’t appear to be getting the side-eye that even Tom McCarthy did last year (at BAFTA), so it’s likely he’ll make the list as well…unless possible the snub is being held for nominations morning (as it was for James L. Brooks, twice). Denis Villeneuve seems to have a solid hold on a spot, though anything past the top three I don’t fully trust. Garth Davis doesn’t seem the kind of choice the directors’ branch would make, unless Lion were to propel itself into top tier, the way The Imitation Game did. Hell or High Water – for its from-nowhere trajectory – or, dare I hope, Jackie – for its quality and its director’s pedigree – are more in line with the branch’s fringe choices. Scorsese of course has a chance, because of his clearly articulated passion for his film, and because he has become almost Streep-like in nailing down every conceivable nomination this decade… but it must be noted he’s saddled with embarrassingly low grosses, an historical hindrance. (His best hope: the oft-noted tendency of the directing branch to include at least one former nominee; all other contenders are newbies.) Because of BAFTA, I guess we have to take Tom Ford at least a bit seriously – though I question a clannish group like the directors’ branch coming through for a fashion designer they might view as moonlighting. But what about I, Daniel Blake’s Ken Loach, BAFTA’s other offbeat choice? Is everyone dismissing that as pure home-town favoritism? What if the branch – hugely augmented this year by new non-American invitees – decides to offer the same life achievement tribute the jury at Cannes did?

To the screenplays: I’m having fond memories of nominations morning 2008, when the original screenplay category surprised us in 3 of 5 slots (Happy Go Lucky, In Bruges and Frozen River) – replacing, among others, WGA nominees associated with strong acting nominees (The Wrestler and Vicky Christina Barcelona). I’m wondering if this year could move along those lines, despite much hive-mind-ing that’s led to many predicting the same five on each side.

Adapted. This category was of course transformed when Moonlight was re-classified and placed here – what seemed a likely Arrival win was changed to a near-certain victory for Jenkins. Oddly, the other film affected by the bookkeeping shift -- Loving – is being ignored by most predictors. Did they not notice it managing a spot in the more competitive Original slot at WGA? I think you have to consider it a prime candidate. After that, it’s a real mess, with many certified hopefuls – Lion, Hidden Figures. Fences, Silence, Hacksaw Ridge, Nocturnal Animals – and some wild cards with Love & Friendship, Indignation, and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. It could of course be the predictable five – Moonlight/Arrival/Fences/Hidden Figures/Lion. Or it could be more like 2008, and more fun.

Original. This looked like a hopelessly crowded slate till the Loving/Moonlight re-lo. With what remains, Manchester, La La Land and Hell or High Water are sure things. I like The Lobster next; it really seems like a writers’ branch thing. After that, I’m praying for Jackie (foreseeing a Vera Drake-like surprise showing). But I acknowledge the potential of Captain Fantastic (which I think fails as a screenplay in its final half-hour), Zootopia (not as strong as most animated contenders, but a possibility), and maybe I, Daniel Blake or Toni Erdmann from the Europe-favoring crowd.

Below the line, I don’t have very strong instincts. The most interesting question is, how close La La Land can get to record nomination levels, and can the film win all classic six techs (cinematography, production design, costumes, sound, editing, score)? Costumes seems its weakest front, but I’m not sure there’s an alternative to get enough focus. (I keep thinking Love & Friendship, but not everyone seems to think that’ll even get nominated.) Arrival seems like it might come next in total nominations, but the CAS omission hurts. (Though one might recall Whiplash was also omitted by CAS, and win on to win the Sound Mixing Oscar.) And, under Visual Effects: should we expect Arrival to win on the basis of being Most Serious Nominee (a la Interstellar or Hugo), or will something more elaborate like The Jungle Book take the crown? A similar question arises in make-up: is Deadpool the favorite if Fllorence Foster Jenkins makes it in (with two acting nominations as adjunct)? Will Silence get the Kundun/Mr. Turner run of cinematography/production/design/costumes…or might it get nothing at all? You could ask that same question about Handmaiden. In best song: stipulate City of Stars is going to win; will the music branch even nominate Can’t Stop the Feeling, or will it suffer the See You Again “big hit but we don’t care about your movie” omission?

More on all this, of course, sometime on Tuesday.


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