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Tag: Best Actress Oscar (61-70 of 107)

Annette Bening and Julianne Moore both to be campaigned as Best Actress

Image credit: Suzanne Tenner

Move over, Thelma and Louise: Now there’s Nic and Jules. From Focus Features comes official word that the distributor will be campaigning both of its stars of The Kids Are All Right—Annette Bening and Julianne Moore—as Best Actress. When I mentioned this as a possibility last month it was met with disbelief from several of you, who thought Focus would go the Dreamgirls or Chicago route and demote one of them (likely Moore) to the supporting category. But I think this is the right decision. Both actresses have juicy roles and complete character arcs that merit inclusion in the lead category. Sure, Moore would have a better shot at her first Oscar win in supporting, but it would seem disingenuous to campaign her as such. As for Bening, despite her tough competition this year (notably Black Swan‘s Natalie Portman and Blue Valentine‘s Michelle Williams), I’d say she has a decent shot at a victory this time around.

For the record, should Bening and Moore both score nods, it would be the sixth time a movie featured two Best Actress nominees. Here are the others:

Thelma and Louise (1991): Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon
Terms of Endearment (1983): Shirley Maclaine (winner) and Debra Winger
The Turning Point (1977): Anne Bancroft and Shirley Maclaine
Suddenly, Last Summer (1959): Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor
All About Eve (1950): Anne Baxter and Bette Davis

Not bad company to be in, right? Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@davekarger) for more Oscar updates.

'Rabbit Hole': Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart enter the Oscar race

Image credit: JoJo Whilden

Today brings news that Lionsgate, the distributor that released Precious last year, has bought the Nicole Kidman drama Rabbit Hole at Toronto and will release it for Oscar consideration this fall. This is great news for those of us that feel like serious adult dramas aren’t being made anymore. I saw the film, directed by John Cameron Mitchell, at its Toronto premiere on Monday night and was impressed with it. Kidman and Eckhart play a married couple struggling to deal with the recent death of their 4-year-old son. (It’s based on the play by David Lindsay-Abaire; Cynthia Nixon and John Slattery starred in the New York production.)

So can Kidman, a past Best Actress winner for The Hours, snag another nomination this year? Some of my fellow Oscar prognosticators think she’s a slam dunk. I’m not as bullish. She gives a fine performance but with the exception of one fireworks scene, it’s a fairly subdued turn. And thanks to movies like The Kids Are All Right, Blue Valentine, Black Swan, and Another Year, the Best Actress race is looking quite crowded. Kidman is certainly a contender for a nomination, just not a sure thing.

The performance in Rabbit Hole that stands out to me is Eckhart’s. He shines in the film’s comedic and dramatic moments, showing range I’ve never seen before. And he gets to rant and rave a bit more than Kidman does, which doesn’t hurt with the Academy. He’s delivered sturdy work for years (In the Company of Men, Nurse Betty, Thank You for Smoking), and I’d love to see him score his first career nomination. And fortunately, the supporting actor field isn’t nearly as dense.

Danny Boyle & Darren Aronofsky: Toronto Déjà Vu

Image credit: Chuck Zlotnick

At the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, most of the Oscar talk surrounded the latest films by acclaimed directors Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler), both of whom reached new heights that year. Slumdog of course went on to win Best Picture and Best Director, while The Wrestler scored acting nods for Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei. Well, fast forward two years, and Boyle and Aronofsky have done it again. Boyle’s 127 Hours (featuring James Franco as hiker Aron Ralston, who was forced to amputate his own arm after being trapped by a boulder) and Aronofsky’s Black Swan (starring Natalie Portman as a mentally unstable New York ballerina) have just screened in Toronto after successful showings at Telluride and Venice, respectively, and they’re now challenging The King’s Speech for the title of most Oscar-buzzed film of the festival.

What’s interesting is that the two directors seem to have swapped styles since their last efforts. After the frenzied Slumdog, Boyle has crafted a much more intimate drama with 127 Hours, while Aronofsky has traded The Wrestler‘s character study with Black Swan‘s noirish visual flourishes. “Darren and I, at the beginning of the Slumdog/Wrestler thing, watched each other’s films and did an interview where we interviewed each other about the films,” Boyle told me today. “I remember thinking, I must do a film where I follow an actor the way he did with The Wrestler. So 127 Hours is my version of that. And I haven’t seen Black Swan, but I understand there’s more sparkle on the screen than in The Wrestler, which was very straight. I love that sparkle as well.” Both films will have their best Academy shot in the lead-acting categories (Franco for 127 Hours, Portman for Black Swan), but I’d call them both contenders for Best Picture and Best Director nods as well.

'Dragon Tattoo' star for Best Actress?

Kurt Koivisto

It’s about to top the $10 million mark in domestic grosses. Now can The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo pull off another coup: an Oscar nomination for Best Actress? Nikki Finke over at had an interesting report yesterday about how the U.S. distributor of the Swedish film is laying the groundwork for an Academy campaign for star Noomi Rapace. I’m also hearing that Rapace, who’s in Los Angeles right now, has been meeting with high-profile personal publicists as well.

With all the hype over Stieg Larson’s books and the upcoming English-language remake of Dragon Tattoo, Rapace’s team is certainly smart to strike while the iron is hot. But she’s got tough competition for a nomination. The Kids Are All Right‘s Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are all but assured two of the five slots, while Blue Valentine‘s Michelle Williams, Love and Other Drugs‘ Anne Hathaway, Another Year‘s Lesley Manville, Black Swan‘s Natalie Portman, and Winter’s Bone‘s Jennifer Lawrence are all strong contenders as well. Can Rapace be this year’s Marion Cotillard? Stranger things have happened in Oscarland, but she’s got a long way to go.

The 2011 Oscar race so far


Pixar/Disney; Melissa Moseley


How’s this for a frightening thought? By this point last year, the eventual Best Picture Oscar winner had already hit movie theaters. So what’s next year’s winner going to be? Sex and the City 2? Valentine’s Day? Jonah Hex? Yikes. Is there any chance we can start 2010 over?

Granted, big awards-baiting films usually come out in the final three months of the year. But considering two of 2010’s ten Best Picture nominees (The Hurt Locker and Up) were released before the end of June, it’s only natural to wonder whether any films from the first half of this year could end up making the cut come next January. Most Oscar watchers are finding the pickings exceedingly slim. Says one Academy member, “I wouldn’t be surprised if nine of the ten Best Picture nominees come out of the second half of the year.”

The first six months of the year haven’t been completely barren, though. Sundance favorite Winter’s Bone has earned fantastic reviews, particularly for young star Jennifer Lawrence’s breakout turn, while a handful of other performances—Michael Douglas in Solitary Man, Vanessa Redgrave in Letters to Juliet—have an outside shot at being remembered at the end of the year. The hilarious and surprisingly moving Joan Rivers—A Piece of Work has also emerged as an early documentary favorite. But what little Oscar buzz there is so far revolves around Toy Story 3, which boasts an astounding 91 score on Metacritic and delivers eye candy and emotional heft in equal measure.

So how can Pixar maintain momentum from June all the way through Oscar night next February? Their strategy is to remain calm, cool, and collected. “I don’t know what we can do but wait at this point and hope for what happened with Up, which is that the movie just kept going,” says Tony Angellotti, who orchestrates Pixar’s Oscar campaigns. “We haven’t even had our first meeting yet.”

Pixar’s pulse may quicken in the coming weeks if a pair of July releases find themselves in the awards hunt. After just missing out on a Best Picture nod with The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan returns with the smart, inventive thriller Inception—and as District 9 proved, a smart, inventive thriller can catch the Academy’s attention in a ten-picture race. Meanwhile, the intimate indie The Kids Are All Right—in which Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play a couple whose lives are turned upside down when their teenage children seek out their sperm-donor father—is buoyed by its unique premise, sharp writing, and affecting performances by the entire cast. “This movie really came from a personal, passionate, original place,” costar Mark Ruffalo tells EW. “It wasn’t thought of in a boardroom or in a focus group before it was written. It wasn’t made to sell toys or videogames. A lot of movies are put together through marketing. That’s why there are so many s— movies out there.” Here’s hoping the last six months of the year can turn that around. (Additional reporting by Carrie Bell)

OscarWatch TV: Upsets looming?

In the fifth of my series of six OscarWatch TV installments (and the final episode before this Sunday’s ceremony), Missy Schwartz and I tackle the two races that have the most people talking this year: Best Picture and Best Actress. Can Avatar capitalize on all the negativity surrounding The Hurt Locker and pull out a victory (particularly if, as The Envelope’s Tom O’Neil is reporting, 25 percent of the ballots still hadn’t been returned as of late last week)? Can Meryl Streep actually beat Sandra Bullock and take home her first Oscar in 28 years? Check out what Missy and I have to say and tell us what you think.

I’ll be at the Spirit Awards tonight, the Weinstein Co. bash tomorrow, and the Elton John AIDS Foundation viewing party on Sunday; be sure to follow me on Twitter (@davekarger) for updates all weekend long.

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Image credit: WETA

OscarWatch TV: Four underdogs we love

With so many of the acting races already sewn up at the Oscars this year, Missy Schwartz and I decided to turn the spotlight on four underdog nominees that we’re rooting for with passion…and not a little futility. True, these four performers don’t have a shot in Hades to reach the Kodak Theatre stage on March 7, but that doesn’t mean they’re not deserving of our love. Check out our choices below—and let me know who’s your favorite also-ran this year.

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Oscars: Who will win?

UPDATE 3/3 The Oscar balloting process may now be over, but negativity surrounding The Hurt Locker is still dominating the news, as producer Nicolas Chartier has now been banned from attending the Oscar ceremony as punishment for sending campaign emails to voters.

2/25 And as if on cue, the Hurt Locker backlash is ratcheting up. Paul Reickhoff of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has written an essay in Newsweek pointing out what he perceives as the film’s inaccuracies, saying they “reveal not only a lack of research, but ultimately respect for the American military.” Since there are only five days left in the balloting process, many voters have already turned in their ballots.

2/21 The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air‘s victories at the Writers Guild Awards don’t change much in the overall awards race—since Inglourious Basterds was ineligible for the Writers Guild prize, The Hurt Locker didn’t have much competition in the original screenplay category. And Up in the Air has swept the adapted-screenplay awards all season long.

2/16 This weekend’s Eddie Awards ceremony, in which The Hurt Locker topped Avatar to win the American Cinema Editors prize, still puts Locker in the lead for the Academy Award. Meanwhile, Avatar‘s James Cameron is packing in the campaign stops in New York: He’s being honored by environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., at a cocktail party tonight followed by a Q&A for Screen Actors Guild members, while tomorrow he’ll be feted at a lunch and will tape an episode of Inside the Actors’ Studio.

2/12 Now that the Academy Award ballots have arrived in voters’ mailboxes, the campaigning is heating up once again. Best Actress nominees Sandra Bullock and Gabourey Sidibe have been making the talk-show rounds, while Inglourious Basterds teammates Quentin Tarantino and Christoph Waltz were just honored at a Manhattan lunch hosted by Harvey Keitel. Here are my predictions of who will win in the eight major categories when the Oscar ceremony takes place on March 7.

The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up in the Air

Prediction: The Hurt Locker In the (albeit brief) history of the Producers Guild Awards and SAG Awards, no film has ever won Best Picture without winning at least one of the four major guild prizes (PGA, SAG, Directors Guild, and Writers Guild). Avatar already lost PGA and DGA to The Hurt Locker, and it wasn’t even nominated for SAG’s best ensemble prize (Inglourious Basterds won that one). And even though it was nominated, it’s obviously not going to win the Writers Guild award. So I’m siding with history and putting my money on The Hurt Locker.

Jeff BridgesCrazy Heart
George ClooneyUp in the Air
Colin FirthA Single Man
Morgan FreemanInvictus
Jeremy RennerThe Hurt Locker

Prediction: Jeff Bridges Bridges, a five-time nominee who’s never won, already has a Golden Globe, Broadcast Critics, and SAG Award on his mantel for Crazy Heart. But even more than that, I’m swayed by the standing ovations he’s routinely received at these award shows, where the audience includes dozens of Academy members. He’s got it in the bag.

Sandra BullockThe Blind Side
Helen MirrenThe Last Station
Carey MulliganAn Education
Gabourey SidibePrecious
Meryl StreepJulie & Julia

Prediction: Sandra Bullock This is clearly the only thing resembling a race in the acting categories. The Blind Side’s Best Picture nomination (compared to no other nods for Julie & Julia) means Bullock has the edge. But you can never count out Meryl Streep, who certainly has legions of fans in the Academy, who may be sick of seeing Bullock beat her. Still, it’s Bullock’s to lose right now.

Matt DamonInvictus
Woody HarrelsonThe Messenger
Christopher PlummerThe Last Station
Stanley TucciThe Lovely Bones
Christoph WaltzInglourious Basterds

Prediction: Christoph Waltz Waltz has been the front-runner for this award ever since Basterds‘ Cannes debut last May. There’s no way he’s losing.

Penélope CruzNine
Vera FarmigaUp in the Air
Maggie GyllenhaalCrazy Heart
Anna KendrickUp in the Air

Prediction: Mo’Nique The mother of all locks this year. Precious is likely to lose five of the six trophies it’s up for, but not this one.

Kathryn BigelowThe Hurt Locker
James CameronAvatar
Lee DanielsPrecious
Jason ReitmanUp in the Air
Quentin TarantinoInglourious Basterds

Prediction: Kathryn Bigelow Even if Avatar pulls out the victory for Best Picture, Bigelow still stands to make history as the Academy’s first-ever female Best Director. A similar result happened in 2001, when a blockbuster (Gladiator) took home Best Picture and the filmmaker behind a grittier entry (Traffic‘s Steven Soderbergh) won Best Director.

Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman, The Messenger
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
Pete Docter, Bob Peterson & Tom McCarthy, Up
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Prediction: The Hurt Locker This may just be the toughest race to predict. It’s definitely between Boal and Tarantino. Since the Academy likes to double up and give its Best Picture winner a screenplay prize as well, I’m thinking Boal’s you-are-there Hurt Locker script will take it…barely.

Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche, In the Loop
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Nick Hornby, An Education
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

Prediction: Up in the Air This one, not so tough to call. With Up in the Air a true underdog in all its other races, this is the film’s best (and perhaps only) shot at a win.

What do you think of my predictions? On the money? Too safe? I’ll have updates on the Oscar season on Twitter (@davekarger) leading up to the big night.

OscarWatch TV: Close-up on the actresses

In the second of our six OscarWatch videos, Missy Schwartz and I take a closer look at the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress races. Is Sandra Bullock the most brilliant Oscar campaigner ever? Can anyone really challenge Mo’Nique for the win? Watch Missy and me tackle these and other all-important issues below. And let me know how you feel about these races on Twitter (@davekarger).

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'(500) Days of Summer,' 'Bright Star,' 'Where the Wild Things Are': What went wrong?

Over the last few months I’ve noticed several movies repeatedly popping up in your comments to my OscarWatch posts. Three of those films — (500) Days of Summer, Bright Star, and Where the Wild Things Are — were all but left out of this week’s Academy Award nominations announcement despite mostly positive reviews and strong cult followings. So let’s look at each of these entries and figure out how they went from possible awards bait to eventual also-rans.

The quirky summer comedy was one of the breakouts from Sundance, along with Precious and An Education. It scored three major Spirit Award nominations and two big Golden Globe nods, for Best Comedy and Best Actor in a Comedy, but lost both, even though some prognosticators (like myself) thought it had a shot at the Best Comedy trophy. While it was always a dark horse for one of the ten Best Picture slots, its adorable script by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber was considered a top contender for Best Original Screenplay, even earning a Writers Guild nomination alongside A Serious Man and The Hurt Locker. But The Messenger stole its Oscar slot. The fault doesn’t lie with the campaign: Even after Fox Searchlight focused its attention on its late addition, Crazy Heart, it still did right by (500) Days in terms of For Your Consideration ads and industry events. But at the end of the day, the Academy is still an older voting body, and likely didn’t fall for the film’s bittersweet tone as much as all of us fans did.

When it premiered at Cannes, Jane Campion’s period drama was widely considered a return to form for the filmmaker as well as a star-making vehicle for lead actress Abbie Cornish. So why did it only end up with one nomination, for Best Costume Design? In my mind, it was a question of timing and resources. Once the film then played at Toronto, it had several other strong female-driven films to contend with, most notably An Education. And while Cornish dutifully did her PR rounds (including a lovely interview with yours truly), no one could possibly compete with the charm offensive that was the captivating Carey Mulligan. It didn’t help that Bright Star was released relatively early in the season, in September; after a so-so box office showing, many people soon forgot about the film. Plus, Bright Star‘s fledgling distributor, Apparition, then put out The Young Victoria, another costume drama with a solid lead female turn, in December, all but shunting Star to the sidelines.

Spike Jonze scored a Best Director nod ten years ago for Being John Malkovich. And his unorthodox adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book started strong, earning a decent $77 million at the domestic box office and landing on the National Board of Review’s top 10. Then it basically disappeared from the awards universe. My hunch is that, as with (500) Days, the stodgier members of the Academy didn’t cotton to the film’s woodsy look, which belied its steep production cost. (If a movie is going to cost a lot of dough, they want to see the money more explicitly on the screen.) Also complicating matters was the Academy’s decision to disqualify Karen O and Carter Burwell’s music from Best Score consideration; many observers believe it was because it was the work of two composers working separately rather than as one team. The moral of the story: If Jonze wants to do his trippy, bizarro thing, the Oscars want it to be for grown-ups.

Image credit: Wild Things: Matt Nettheim; Summer: Chuck Zlotnick

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