With 21 career Oscar nominations, Woody Allen can certainly be considered an Academy favorite. But in the five years since he scored a Best Original Screenplay nod for 2005′s Match Point, he hasn’t been invited back to the big show. (Though Penélope Cruz won Best Supporting Actress for Vicky Cristina Barcelona in 2009, Allen himself wasn’t nominated.) Allen’s latest comedy, Midnight in Paris, has just screened for the press at the Cannes film festival, and I’d say he could have a shot this time. I’ll leave the official critique to my colleague Lisa Schwarzbaum, but I’d say the consensus will be that Midnight is easily his best film since Vicky Cristina, while some critics will harken even further back to find an Allen film as witty and magical as this one. And (mild spoiler alert!) I think older Academy voters will be particularly tickled by Allen’s fictional presentations of artistic and literary icons like Gertrude Stein (played by Kathy Bates) and Salvador Dalí (Adrien Brody). While Best Picture or Best Director citations may be tougher to snag given all the promising films still to come this year, I’d say a 15th screenplay nod for Allen certainly seems doable.
As for the cast? Allen’s movies have garnered nine supporting actress nominations over the years, but none of the female performers (including Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy) has a showy enough role to go the distance. This movie really belongs to Owen Wilson, who gives a droll and charming performance that could contend for a Best Actor in a Comedy nod at the Golden Globes next January. It’s likely his only shot at awards glory next year: I don’t think Hall Pass will cut it, even at the Globes.
Dave on Twitter: @davekarger