The 20th Annual Who'll Be Back?

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Re: The 20th Annual Who'll Be Back?

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:42 am

Oscar races evolved more gradually back then. My recollection of roughly how it went:

There had been some "maybe they could contend" entrants over the summer -- notably Sarandon in Bull Durham and Pfeiffer (her first breakthrough to respectability) in Married to the Mob -- but Foster in The Accused (which opened in October) was clearly a cut above them. Reviews for the movie as a whole were mediocre, but critics pretty much flipped for her (there seemed a bit of nostalgia mixed in with the appreciation -- a "look how our little girl's grown up" feel). She was a contender from the day the movie opened (especially since it performed respectfully at the box office).

Gorillas in the Mist came along roughly the same time, and got Sigourney Weaver the most Academy-friendly reviews of her then decade-long career. Gorillas, too, did pretty well commercially, and, though this was before bio-pics became the be-all/end-all for Oscars, the seriousness of the project made Weaver seem a solid contender.

Meryl Steep was already well into her eventual record Oscar nomination haul -- Ironweed the previous winter had brought her her seventh nod in only 10 years -- and, when A Cry in the Dark opened in November, it was pretty clear she'd be adding to that total. The film's downbeat trajectory -- and the coldness of the central character -- kept the film from doing much commercially. But Streep was golden as ever with the critics.

I don't know that I remember any Oscar year being so fully upended by December releases as 1988 was. There'd been notable critical/commercial successes all year -- The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Bull Durham, Big, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, A Fish Called Wanda -- but not a one of them made the eventual best picture list, as five December entries took all the slots: Accidental Tourist, Rain Man, Mississippi Burning, Working Girl and Dangerous Liaisons. The latter two featured major performances by their leading actresses -- Melanie Griffith, a cult favorite in Body Double and Something Wild, finally in a mainstream effort, and Glenn Close, who'd received her fourth nomination in 6 years at the previous year's Oscars.

The critics were all over the place. NY went with Streep yet again (her third win there); LA (having an oddball year all around) chose Christine Lahti for Running on Empty, a movie that had dropped dead commercially over the summer; the National Society went for Judy Davis in High Tide -- a movie I've never managed to track down; and NBR went with Foster, solidifying her as the sentimental choice (though her film's rape content was an odd fit with sentimentality).

The Globes were the only televised precursor we had in those days, and, while most of the actresses mentioned herein found themselves nominated, Close was not among them. Dangerous Liaisons, it later emerged, hadn't been screened in time for HFPA, so the film and everyone connected with it was absent from the nominations list. Was this a key moment in the race? -- blocking Close out from a spot where she might have made her presence felt (as happened this year)?

As it was, the Globes threw a massive curve, declaring best actress a three-way tie, among Foster, Weaver for Gorillas, and Shirley MacLaine in Madame Sousatzka (a movie for which she had received some solid notices but which had flown through so quickly, with so little impact, that its chances seemed minimal). No one seemed to know what the three-way-ness of the race meant (though Christine Lahti -- who'd been one of the non-winning two others -- said her husband told her "Well, it could have been worse: it could have been a four-way tie").

Because the Globes' deadline issue with Liaisons hadn't been much publicized (today, of course, it would have been common Internet knowledge), we went into nominations day not knowing if the film would score any mention at all. In fact, it did very well: 7 nods, including picture/actress/supporting actress. It seemed a class entry, and Close's four-losses/no-win situation made her a solid contender. Melanie Griffith had the other major contending film -- Working Girl had six nominations, including film/director -- but she seemed too new to win. Sigourney Weaver was nominated for Gorillas in lead and Working Girl in support, and most expectation for her was poured into the supporting slot (though a surprise was awaiting there). Streep was on board, of course, but her two wins in the preceding decade seemed to block her from another victory any time soon. (As it turned out, that wait was to grow to almost 30 years.) And there was Foster. Her nomination was the only notice The Accused received, but she was "Jodie Foster who we'd all watched grow up", and no one dismissed her chances.

Since Liaisons hadn't competed at the Globes, we'd had no test of its strength prior to Oscar night. It did well enough -- winning screenplay, costumes and production design -- but both its actresses lost (and both still sit on the list of major talents un-Oscared). I suggested, in the 1988 thread, that maybe Close had mis-managed her Oscar narrative. Her first three nominations were for playing nurturing earth mothers. Her obsessive paramour in Fatal Attraction had been a major change of pace, the sort that often wins Oscars. But the film -- thanks to its rampaging finale, which probably helped make it a hit -- wasn't taken quite seriously enough for an acting win (especially over sentimental favorite Cher). And now, in Liaisons -- a film with respectability to spare -- her bitchery wasn't quite the revelation it would have been before Fatal Attraction. If she'd done the films in reverse, I wonder about the outcome.

In a certain way, the 1988 race was an obverse of this year's: in that instance, Foster was the one who was sole representative of a minor movie, while Close was the costumed lady in the best picture contender. But Foster's sentimental pull was enough to carry her past Close -- even though now most look back and wish Close had won here (especially with Foster's Silence of the Lambs triumph not far ahead).

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Re: The 20th Annual Who'll Be Back?

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Mar 10, 2019 8:59 pm

In retrospect, Close's performance in Dangerous Liaisons is the one from 1988 that holds up best, but at the time it was Streep and Foster who were the most admired with Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas in the Mist also strongly favored.
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Re: The 20th Annual Who'll Be Back?

Postby Okri » Sun Mar 10, 2019 7:54 pm

After the 2011 Oscars, Tee analogized Close to Scorsese - after getting her passion project through the oscar season, maybe she'd relax and get that precious oscar (and honestly, how sorry could one be for someone with three Emmys and three Tonys. Apparently, if the teeth gnashing over at The Film Experience is any indicator, very). Both Close and Scorsese returned and probably came closer. But there will be no relaxing if Sunset Blvd is her next vehicle, for the reasons Tee states (I think it's a pretty solid musical, but that's mainly due to Wilder/IAL Diamond - he gets adapted all the time!). I’m intrigued that we never heard ANYTHING about her being overdue in 2011, though. As a side question, could those who were Oscar-cognizant in 1988 clue me in about that best actress race? Danny Peary, in alternate Oscars, endorses Jodie Foster and Inside Oscar seems non-committal. But was Close the frontrunner? Because that race more than any other is the one I see highlighted that she wuzrobbed. But even in our own poll, she was trounced (by Streep, no less, who we'd already honoured)

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Re: The 20th Annual Who'll Be Back?

Postby dws1982 » Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:37 pm

One thing worth noting about Olivia Colman's TV commitment: It's probably not going to keep her from making movies for as long as you might think. She's committed to seasons three and four of The Crown but she started filming in July of last year, and the seasons were being filmed back-to-back, so there's probably not a huge amount of filming left to do. She'll do promotion, and there may be some reshoots, but she'll probably be able to go back to movies before too long, if that's what she chooses to do.

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Re: The 20th Annual Who'll Be Back?

Postby FilmFan720 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:01 pm

Another great write-up!

Bonus Round Thoughts:

For the Veteran Below the Line winner, I will highlight Diane Warren. There was some social media grumbling that the 10-time nominee had never won this year, but with Best Song so solidly in Lady Gaga's favor, there wasn't really a chance to make a push. You have to imagine that on her next nomination, there could be a huge push to finally award her. IMDb doesn't list anything for this year, but songwriting can come real late in the process and I imagine that the narrative could turn in her favor easily.

For the Director category, I agree that Coogler seems the best bet. I will also make a push for Bo Burnham, whose two guild upset wins this year show that there is a lot of love for him in Hollywood. I imagine that his next film (there is nothing announced yet) will have a lot more attention paid to it from the start and, if he chooses to make something awards-friendly, should be solidly in the conversation.

For actors not in consideration for awards, I'm gonna go with Danai Gurira. She has such an eclectic career: Tony nominated playwright, TV and movie action star, and activist and UN Goodwill ambassador. She seems primed to become a major force in Hollywood, and although everything in the pipeline for her seems action-oriented (Marvel, Star Trek, and Godzilla), once she starts to put her efforts into more "serious" fare in the movie business, she could easily be an Oscar nominated actress (or screenwriter) with the right material.

Another actor I'll highlight is Ben Foster, who has never quite been in conversation (although he has been a little on the fringes), but for whom Leave No Trace seems like a step in a new direction. I think he needs to be the standout in a big ensemble of a Best Picture nominee to get to the Oscars, but that could easily happen.

For actors in the conversation this year, I'll go with Foster's co-star Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie. I never believed that she was really in the Oscar conversation the way that bloggers may have made it seem, but she is so good in Leave No Trace, and Wikipedia already lists her as having four films completed (including ones from Taika Waititi and Liz Garbus) that I imagine she will start working a lot. She will be a nominee in the next five years.
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Re: The 20th Annual Who'll Be Back?

Postby OscarGuy » Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:43 am

I once thought Elle Fanning would be here one day, but it seems like her roles are too eclectic to be taken seriously by the Academy. Unlike Saoirse Ronan, Fanning doesn't appear to care if she takes on roles the Academy would ignore.
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Re: The 20th Annual Who'll Be Back?

Postby dws1982 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:45 am

I'll come back for the Who'll Be Back part, but for the bonus round, I would suggest Claire Foy. Her TV commitment is over, and while IMDb doesn't show any upcoming projects for her, I think she'll have plenty of opportunities in the years just ahead. She nearly made it this year, and I think she'll have better luck down the line--especially if it's with either a more broadly-loved film, or if it's one where she's widely seen as the stand-out.

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Re: The 20th Annual Who'll Be Back?

Postby Precious Doll » Sun Mar 03, 2019 3:23 am

Big Magilla wrote: Travolta went on to a long career as a star yet was only able to cop one more Oscar nod for Pulp Fiction seven years later.


Seventeen years, though time moves so fast it seemed like seven.

Great posts from Mister Tee & Magilla.

I think Mister Tee (or someone else) commented on another post that all the winners have TV work lined up. That was unthinkable even 10 years ago - how the times have changed.
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Re: The 20th Annual Who'll Be Back?

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:50 am

Such a strange year, I wonder if awards season, culminating in the Oscars, is going to be as fractured going forward now that the seismic changes in the industry have taken hold.

For years now, TV, the movies' kid sibling has been all grown up and overtaken it in many ways. Theatrical releases are for the most part now just the big spectacular films. Smaller films with bravura acting get released, mostly in awards season, but are ignored with industry insiders waiting to view the ones that capture their imagination on screeners and free access to streaming. The general public waits for subscription streaming and/or DVD and Blu-ray releases which come about three months after their theatrical release. Newspaper critics, who still see most films in theatres and screening rooms, vote one way, while industry insiders vote another. The year's most acclaimed male performance, per the critics was Ethan Hawke's in First Reformed. Not only did SAG, BAFTA and Oscar voters ignore it, Oscar voters by the busload also ignored the closest thing to Hawke's performance that was nominated, Willem Dafoe's in At Eternity's Gate. So where are we?

All four acting winners at this year's Oscars were primarily known to the voters for their TV work, as were several of the nominees. Expect to see more crossover winners in future, but which ones, only time will tell.

Rami Malick's emergence in Bohemian Rhapsody reminds me of no one since John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Travolta also made a name for himself on TV before strutting and dancing in Saturday Night Fever and he could sing, too, as he did in the following year's Grease. Travolta went on to a long career as a star yet was only able to cop one more Oscar nod for Pulp Fiction seven years later. Malick, already 37, will likely have fewer opportunities unless he finds something as interesting as TV's Mr. Robot. His next role will reportedly be as the villain in the next James Bond movie. I don't see him coming back any time soon.

Olivia Colman has not only been seen mostly on TV by U.S. audiences, she is taking over from Claire Foy in the highly anticipated third season of The Crown. British character actresses who attain star status after years of acting in the background, unless they're Judi Dench, do not suddenly emerge as ongoing awards favorites. It will be a long time before she is back, if at all.

Marhershala Ali now has two Oscars. Will he win a third? It's possible but it will be tougher for him now that he has two. Regina King will likely stick to TV for the foreseeable future.

Among the other nominees, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Amy Adams, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz all have multiple nominations with bustling careers and all have the potential of coming back and soon. Richard E. Grant, Adam Driver and Sam Rockwell all have the potential to come back soon, as well, with the right role. Viggo Mortensen is more problematic. He doesn't do conventional leading men and at 60, his prospects may not be as strong as they once were. He's a question mark.

Glenn Close will be back at least once more with Sunset Boulevard unless the notion of a 72-year-old woman playing a 50-year-old proves as incongruous as 62-year-old Lucille Ball playing 40-year-old Mame.

Melissa McCarthy will likely not see a dramatic role as memorable as her Lee Israel any time soon, and her over-the-top comic roles become less interesting the more she plays them. I see her career going into decline, but then re-emerging in strong character parts for which she will once again be in the mix.

Lady Gaga will stick with her music and non-professional Yaltilza Aparicio will be lucky to find another acting assignment. Marina de Tavira is a veteran actress but unless she takes on an interesting role in a Hollywood film is not likely to be back either.

Alfonso Cuaron will certainly be back, but he will find it tougher to win a third Oscar for directing. Yorgos Lathimos and Pawel Pawlikowski with the right project could certainly be back, as could Spike Lee but it's taken him such a long time to finally be acknowledged by his fellow directors that this could just as easily prove to be his only shot. Forget Adam McKay.

I agree that Emily Blunt is the most likely of established, never nominated stars, who should eventually receive one. Hopefully, it won't be for too long. As to lesser names, I see a whole host of British actors including Nicholas Hoult, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn and Fionn Whitehead awaiting their turn.
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Re: The 20th Annual Who'll Be Back?

Postby Reza » Sat Mar 02, 2019 11:36 pm

As usual an excellent read and sum up, Mister Tee.

Emily Blunt should now be seriously considered as a future contendor especially after the reception she got for both of her films last year. She has been simmering under the radar for too long already.

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The 20th Annual Who'll Be Back?

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:32 pm

Yes: 20 years we’ve been going down this road together. The aftermath of 1999 seems to have taken place in a different universe: films were staying in theatres six months or more, streaming didn’t exist, super-heroes hadn’t obliterated mainstream drama, Harvey Weinstein was an annual presence – only Meryl Steep is a constant. That era, especially for the Oscars (then still drawing the massive audience ABC desperately wants to rebuild), seems a more golden one…but perhaps that’s an illusion created by the rosy hindsight of memory.

In any case, we’re dealing with this year just past: a fairly lackluster one, that leaves behind a less fertile field for discussion than usual. Still, as always, there are people and scenarios to ponder. Herewith, the standard survey -- comments on who we’re likely to see make return appearances in contests just ahead.

Bradley Cooper went from “they adore him/will shower him with prizes” to “he’s winning nothing/they obviously hate him” with such dizzying speed, it’s hard to know what about his career position is real, and what’s simply jealous gossip. It may be that his fade from what we thought a strong posture had more to do with inability to resist celebrity impersonation (by both his prominent rivals) or remake fatigue (more prevalent among latter awards-giving groups than critics and bloggers). Alternatively, it may be some perceive Cooper as having had way too outsized a string of successes, and think major prizes are more than he needs right now. Or it could simply be that more folk than initially suspected resented how he tilted the Star is Born formula to make his character more dominant (someone I know referred to the film as a Bradley Cooper selfie). If this latter feeling runs deep, it could affect how likely he is to return down the line in a winning campaign. His next project is a Leonard Bernstein bio-pic, which is a rejoinder to the first option I listed – but the fact that he’s directing the film himself won’t help if it’s the latter scenario that worked against him. One thing remains clear: studios love him for this string of hits, and a $200 million domestic gross means they’ll give him ample opportunities for the foreseeable future. At any point, the right role in the right hit could net him the prize that eluded him this year.

I said last year that Willem Dafoe would continue his pattern of showing up once a decade or so in supporting roles; naturally, the Academy gave him a lead nomination one year later (though a chanceless one). I’ll still stick by my contention, that Dafoe isn’t likely to win strictly on career points – he seems a nice enough guy, and he works like a demon, but I don’t get the sense he has the career affection that brought someone like Glenn Close into the conversation this year. To ever have a chance at winning the statue, Dafoe is going to need a dominant performance in a movie people see in big numbers. It remains to be seen if any of his many-many upcoming projects (seriously: he’s the hardest-working man in show business) bring him to the podium. I mentioned Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn last year; it remains the first place I’ll be looking.

Though Rami Malek ran away with things in the end, Christian Bale stayed in the race longer than anyone else, which seems to indicate his supporting prize three nominations ago is no longer viewed as close-out to future Oscar success. He’s widely-respected (if maybe not widely-loved) and highly in demand; this suggests he’ll continue to get Oscar-aspiring roles, and that the lead actor statuette may be coming in the not-too-distant future. The James Mangold-directed Ford v. Ferrari has an interesting sound to it, and may bring him back sooner than anticipated.

Did Viggo Mortensen gain or lose Oscar traction from this year’s race? In a narrow sense, you can see it as a boost – his movie won best picture, and got him seen by way more people than ever took in Captain Fantastic or Easter Promises. But the film was at best a divisive winner, and Mortensen’s character seemed to bear the brunt of much of the divisiveness. Mortensen’s been around a long time now -- a close-to-astonishing 35 years – during which time he’s worked fairly steadily, but never really left much footprint. (Rings obviously gave great visibility, but not much personal splash.) I wonder if finally making a big individual impression in a problematic performance is a mixed blessing – or is much help toward his being a winner somewhere down the line.

Okri and I seem to be the only ones here who thought much of Rami Malek based on prior work; for many, he may seem just a guy who lucked into winning it all on first go-round – which would leave him likely to slip into oblivion. I think he’s too talented for that and, if he chooses wisely, he can use this leap-in-exposure to fashion a solid career. For the immediate future, of course, it’s back to television: Mr. Robot will soon be back from its long hiatus. What film he does next will be telling. It is, as always, worth noting this encouraging statistic: about 50% of lead performers who win on a first try come back at least once (Eddie Redmayne and Sandra Bullock examples from the past decade).

However it may have appeared from my comments on the year’s best actress race, I’m a long-time fan of Glenn Close – ever since I first saw her in Barnum, 1980 – and, while I hold to my opinion she simply didn’t deserve to win for The Wife, I would be delighted for her to be chosen for some future film. The fact that she’s now in her 70s no doubt works against her, but 1) it feels like more older actresses are getting recognized of late and 2) Christopher Plummer offers recent proof that a losing nomination at a late age can be quickly followed up with a win. I see people are already getting revved up for the idea of Sunset Boulevard, and, though I liked the show on-stage (and loved her in it), I’d urge caution there: for one thing, it’s a novice director, and, for another, as with Nine, once the show is put on film, comparisons to beloved- predecessor-from-revered-director will be more direct and possibly squelching. That said…I’ll be thrilled if Close triumphs in it, or any subsequent effort – however happy I was for the Colman win the other night, part of me did ache for Close’s disappointment.

Melissa McCarthy became a movie name with Bridesmaids, a box-office draw with The Heat and Identity Theft, a respected comedy star with Spy, and widely beloved from the first time she did Sean Spicer on SNL. But Can You Ever Forgive Me? moved her to a different level. Consensus judged her performance top-notch not by the lowered bar of comedienne-going-serious, but by full-out acting standards. You’d think that would have brought her more into the Oscar win-discussion – though the film’s low gross didn’t help. But maybe it’s better this way: the film served as her dues payment into the world of serious acting; the next time she moves that way, she’ll be seen as legit rather than a freak contender. And, happily, we won’t have to wait long for this: her next film isn’t a jump back to broad comedy, but a crime drama called The Kitchen opposite Elizabeth Moss (the only drawback: the film sounds a tad similar to Widows). After that, she IS going back to the comedy well, so you can’t rule out a setback (with The Happytime Murders barely in the rear-view). And, of course, her physical type means she will always be somewhat limited as to the number of Oscar-ish roles available. But I like the chances of this hugely popular performer ascending to the winner’s podium in the next dozen years.

Olivia Colman is, for the moment, committed to television (the venue for much of her previous acclaimed work); she’ll almost surely remain Britain-based; and her age/physical type don’t suggest she’ll suddenly start headlining Hollywood A projects. (Though I’m sure somebody’ll suggest cramming her into a Marvel franchise.) All of which is to say, I don’t see her becoming an Oscar regular a la her co-stars. But she appears to have Lanthimos’ love, which could provide her further juicy roles, and surely there are some imaginative writers/directors who will come up with ideas for her now that she’s so demonstrably won over the industry. I’d say she could be a full one-off…or could carve out a niche for herself where she accumulates a small batch of nominations over the next decade. In whichever case, I’ll enjoy watching her progress.

Lady Gaga may not have ascended the heights festival hype had suggested, but she can hardly complain about how her year went – getting a best actress nomination for what most will perceive as her film debut is way better than most singers can claim, and a popular best song victory isn’t a bad consolation prize. I’m quite dubious about her ever returning to the Dolby as nominee – I’m not even sure what roles she could play in future films. But she’s world-famous, and got through this project with her reputation enhanced – something I’d have bet against, sight unseen – so maybe she’ll surprise us again.

Yalitza Aparicio is a non-professional, not-really-English-speaking lady who managed a lead actress nomination for her first film, largely thanks to her film’s widespread popularity. I salute her for the achievement, but if there’s anyone in this year’s class it’s safe to classify as a one-off, it is she.

I was a fairly loud Adam Driver skeptic up till this year, then ended up one of his more enthusiastic boosters – go figure. I can’t guarantee I’ll like him as much again in upcoming films/roles, but I can say with certainty those upcoming films/roles will turn up. This guy, still young, has already appeared in films directed by Eastwood, Spielberg, Baumbach, the Coens, Jarmusch, Scorsese, Soderbergh and Spike Lee – a lifetime resume most would envy. It’s safe to assume this run will continue, and some of these roles will bring him at least into contention for future awards. First up: The Report, which was well-received at Sundance. Definitely the hottest prospect from this year’s supporting slate.

Wasn’t it nice to see Sam Elliott at the Oscars, after all this time? (And to see how great Katharine Ross looks, 50 years after her own nomination.) But I’d say take a picture: never say never, but he’s not likely to pass this way again.

The best reason to root for Richard E. Grant this year was the unlikelihood of his ever returning. It took over 30 years, from his breakout in Withnail & I, for him to register with the Academy, and it’s hard to imagine another role like this will come along soon. I’d be happy to be wrong about this, but I think this was Grant’s one-and-only Oscar season.

If Sam Rockwell is now enough on Academy radar to get nominations for flimsy work like in Vice, we may see him a lot in years just upcoming. Because the guy’s really keeping busy: a bunch of films already in the can, as well as that Fosse/Verdon miniseries, which seems sure to get attention. His project just ahead, The Best of Enemies with Taraji P. Henson, may or may not be Oscar stuff (a Spring release makes one doubtful). But he’s clearly in the club at this point (after decades of striving), and I’d expect more nominations down the line. A second win isn’t impossible (as his co-nominee proved this year), but you never want to bet on that.

You don’t have to look far to find my initial outlook for Mahershala Ali: just two years back in this series, I was lukewarm on his career prospects – acknowledging his charisma, but expressing standard wariness over a black actor’s ability to score good roles. Well, he’s obviously exceeded expectation: already the second black actor to win two Oscars, with a major TV presence along the way (though people soured on the latter in the end – True Detective’s karma seems to be to first elevate and then crush its watchers’ hopes). There’s no reason to bet against a continuing successful career, and possibly more nominations – though a third win falls on the unlikely side.

I was scrolling though older editions of this series in preparation, and saw that I was touting Amy Adams as potential future winner from her second (2008) nomination on. Commenting on her prospects is not unlike charting Meryl Steep: I have to struggle to find new things to say. Start with simple fact: this was her 6th nomination, accumulated in only 14 years. The number of people who’ve amassed as many as 6 nominations is fairly small to begin with; those who’ve done it in that short a time-span is smaller still: she’s all-time top ten material. Yet, out there in blogger-world, this has somehow become evidence she’s deeply disliked. I find this thinking bizarre: were Burton/O’Toole/Kerr/Ritter’s large nomination totals without wins a signal of Hollywood hatred? There’s also an oft-made argument Adams “gets nominated by tagging along with popular films” (those claiming this also accuse Meryl Streep of racking up personal nominations for unimportant movies, suggesting their debate standards are flexible). This ignores Amy’s nods for Junebug and The Master, hardly Academy juggernauts, and the fact that she was passed over (in a tight race) for one of her most popular vehicles, Arrival. How about this: Amy Adams has contributed in notable ways to a wide variety of interesting films over the past decade-plus, and Oscar voters have recognized that fact without yet finding the right spot to grant her the win? Worth noting: it took Kate Winslet till her 6th nomination (and major machinations from Harvey Weinstein) to finally secure a win; I don’t see Amy waiting till her 7th as a far greater hardship. As for what she has upcoming: The Woman in the Window is her next big project, which has debits (pulpy source material, Joe Wright directing) and positives (Tracy Letts script, Gary Oldman/Julianne Moore/Brian Tyree Henry in the cast). Beyond that, nothing inked in, but her consistent collaborations with auteurist directors suggest she’ll have more chances ahead. The lady may not be quite as young as she looks (she’s 44), but there’s a ton of time left for her to win.

Was it really 13 years ago that we followed Rachel Weisz’s journey to her Oscar? She’s had a creditable-enough career in the years since (including a NY critics’ lead actress award), but this feels like the first time audiences have truly focused on her since then -- a situation this second nomination (and credible run, including BAFTA) has ratified. Weisz is one of many actresses these days who seems to have firm control of her career, often generating her own projects. Some are better than others at that, and I’d say Weisz falls in the upper echelon: if she hasn’t come up with absolutely top-drawer projects (save The Favourite), she’s avoided the belly-flops that have damaged other careers. I like her chances at spring-boarding from this success into more Academy appearances just ahead.

Yes, it was embarrassing some people confused Regina King and Regina Hall when they both emerged with wins from the NY critics – but it wasn’t quite without justification, given they’re both middle-aged black actresses (born, in fact, within a month of one another) who’ve carved out semi-anonymous careers largely in television before having cinematic breakthroughs this year. King is the more lauded of the two, with multiple Emmys and now this Oscar, which should help her compete for the best roles upcoming. But, as we’ve long noted, black actresses have a smaller pool from which to draw, so it’s 50/50 whether she ever gets an Academy opportunity like this again.

Just five years back, Emma Stone was a likable film presence whose likelihood of graduating to “important” films was in question. Since then, of course, she’s picked up three nominations (and a win) for films that competed strongly in the top categories. Either she’s super-lucky, or has exceptional taste in projects – and, oh yeah: she’s pretty good. Plus, only 30. There was never much likelihood she’d win another prize so soon after La La Land, but I can see her making regular appearances at the Dolby in the coming years. Her next project, Cruella, feels like a cash grab -- but with Craig Gillespie directing, who knows? In any case, this looks like a long career.

Marina de Tavira, unlike her co-star, apparently has a long/distinguished resume in both film and theatre, and also speaks comfortably in English. Which is to say, if it was her dream to move on to American films, this could give her that opportunity – it’ll be up to her to decide. The inclination is to call this a one-off, but stay tuned.

We’ll see if I’m correct about his, but my instinct is Adam McKay’s future Oscar prospects were actually damaged by this nomination. McKay had already been in the pensioned-off category, thanks to his screenplay win on The Big Short, but he might have been the rare director to come back and win the bigger prize. This nomination, though, was so poorly received in so many quarters that I’d say he’s lost position – pushed back halfway to where he was when his identity was Will Ferrell’s favorite director. His in-the-works project with Jennifer Lawrence could be a key moment in his career: if it recovers some of the goodwill of The Big Short, he could get back on track; but if it evokes near the hatred Vice did, it could hobble his awards trajectory for good.

This was of course Pawel Pawlikowsi’s second encounter with Oscar, his first having been his foreign film win for Ida. On one level, it was a less successful foray -- his film didn’t win this time. But making the directing slate was a huge step; it should up his name recognition and open opportunities. He has of course directed in English already (guiding unknown Emily Blunt in My Summer of Love), but he shows no current signs of wanting to return to that: his upcoming project is a Polish production. I suspect he’ll stick to his native county, and be one of those directors who’s highlighted perennially at Cannes and occasionally at the Oscars.

Yorgos Lanthimos joins the ever-growing list of “directors I once thought I’d never see at the Oscars” (Soderbergh, van Sant, Coens, Boyle, etc.). Unlike Pawlikowski, he seems to have made the jump to English-language filmmaking, which will give him a theoretically better shot at future Oscar participation. He already had a pretty good following with actors, a situation The Favourite’s success will surely enhance. But his innate weirdness – discernible even in a project as seemingly mainstream as this film – might always keep him short of the big score. But, hey: for the director of Dogtooth (still one of the half dozen weirdest Oscar nominees ever) to have made it this far is amazing enough; maybe he’ll surprise us further.

Almost 30 years after his Do the Right Thing fury (with smaller intervening disappointments), Spike Lee finally makes it to the Oscar stage, to the delight of most. I wonder if he simultaneously felt the door closing on his ever winning a directing prize? He was a long-shot there to begin with, given his Life Achievement designation. But the screenplay award has, as I’ve too-often noted, become a “thanks/now go away” package for director/writers who missed out on the more prestigious directing trophy. Spike may return to the Oscars a time or two – he’s only in his early 60s, way short of Eastwood/Scorsese/Spielberg territory – but I’m thinking this was his big AMPAS night.

Alfonso Cuaron’s last two films have won ten Oscars, including two for directing, without ever taking best picture; that isn’t easy to do. You can probably chalk it up to doing bravura work in kinds of films (sci-fi/foreign) distant from the Academy wheelhouse. Cuaron remains a slow worker – this was only his second film in the past twelve years – so who knows when he’ll be back? But, whenever it is, a lot of us’ll be there to see what he’s done. His chances of winning again, though? Punishingly small.

So…on to the bonus rounds.

Ruth Carter continued the recent streak I highlighted last year: the veteran-below-the-liner who finally wins. (If you’re keeping score, it’s Lubezki ’13/Desplat ’14/Morricone ’15/O’Connell ’16/Deakins ’17/Carter ‘18.) Who’s a bet to keep that going in future years? Well, I note that Marc Shaiman has a rather startling 7 nominations now, stretching back almost three decades. But, because the cinematographers’ branch rather ostentatiously pointed him out this year, I’m going to suggest Caleb Deschanel, waiting since The Black Stallion in 1979. His credit this year? The live-action Lion King.

In the directors’ bonus round – what director’s been hanging on the fringes but you suspect will get nominated one day? -- I suppose many will want to advocate for one of the prominent ladies: Debra Granik or Marielle Heller. Granik is a tough prediction, because she works at a Cuaron-like pace: Leave No Trace was only her third film since 2005, so who knows when she’ll have another one ready? Heller is much more industrious: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood will be her third film in five years. My problem with that is 1) do we need ANOTHER Mr. Rogers movie? and 2) isn’t casting Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers, like having Morgan Freeman play Mandela, close to redundant?

So, I’ll go with Ryan Coogler. Having established himself with the financial success of Creed and Black Panther, he seems to be going back to “serious” material -- a much better use of his talents -- and I think he’ll be rewarded for that before long.

The first part of the actors’ bonus round – created because so many people couldn’t understand the rules of the original – asks you to pick an actor who hasn’t necessarily been in any awards conversation, but who you think, given what you’ve seen from him/her, might be a candidate for nomination before too long. An easy pick here might be Awkwafina, given the response her film got at Sundance, but highlighting someone already touted isn’t really in the spirit of the game. Nicholas Hoult might be a good choice – he’s been making consistently interesting choices, which you’d think might eventually lead him to recognition. But I’m going to go with Riz Ahmed, which may be recency bias, since I just watched him in The Sisters Brothers last night. He already has an Emmy, and he seems to be getting widely cast; I think it’s just a matter of time till he makes the Academy list,

Finally, the original bonus round, whose very specific rules are, someone who was in the conversation for nomination this year, fell short, but you think will have better luck in the years just ahead. As happens some years, many of the most obvious passed-over don’t qualify, because they’re already past nominees or winners: Toni Collette, Nicole Kidman, Viola Davis, Timothee Chalamet. One has to stretch a bit to find candidates – for instance, Elizabeth Debicki, who never really got much real-world encouragement for her putative Widows candidacy. I’m going to settle on Michael B. Jordan, who, again, didn’t get the citations he was hoping for, but was at least seriously advocated by many. Like his director Mr. Coogler, he seems to be moving on to non-franchise material, and I think his evident talent will eventually secure him Academy attention.

All that exhaustively said…2018 is now a wrap. Except for all your comments, which I anxiously await.


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