Oscar Update: Best Actor Chatter, Talks of ‘Doubt’ and Scott-Thomas is Praised

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Yesterday we learned an unfinished version of Doubt will be replacing The Soloist at the AFI Film Festival on October 30. The fact Miramax is cool with showing an unfinished print as an Opening Night Gala film tells me a lot about the quality of the flick. I thought the first trailer was outstanding and have since been looking forward to see this film. Speaking of looking forward to films, Milk was supposed to screen here in Seattle this past Monday, but when Gus Van Sant bailed on his Seattle PA tour the screening was cancelled only hours beforehand, which now means I must wait until November 6 to get my first drink of the flick, which along with Doubt, looks like one to love.

This will mark Doubt‘s second screening as it was shown to its original Broadway cast plus a few dozen journalists and film industry honchos last night (Oct. 23) at which producer Scott Rudin was quoted by Gold Derby saying:

“I don’t know if the story’s broken in the trades yet or will come out tomorrow morning, but I’m very nervous about this. The decision was made to open AFI before we got the first reaction to the film from industry people. It was a big gamble. But I think we made the right decision based on the reactions I’ve heard so far.”

Now that I’ve Loved You So Long has finally hit theaters in New York and Los Angeles people are finally starting to weigh in. Tom Tapp at The Daily Beast (a site that has been getting a tremendous amount of attention lately) enjoyed Kristen Scott-Thomas but said it “is the kind of performance that critics always say deserves an Oscar, but rarely wins: an interior role in a small film in another language.”

Anne Thompson at Variety gives a four-point reasoning system as to why Scott-Thomas will get a nomination:

  1. She wears no makeup, looks awful and moves from shut-down depression to life.
  2. She’s a Brit who speaks French. (She’s lived in France for 25 years.) This is huge.
  3. She’s done good work for a long time and is overdue (she was nominated once, for The English Patient).
  4. Scott Thomas is also earning raves on Broadway for The Seagull. This does not hurt one little bit.

Sorry, but if Anne is right on these being the four reasons as to why she will be nominated I may have to give up on the Oscars altogether considering she leads into this saying, “She gives a great performance in a good movie that should play with Academy members. But here’s why she’ll gain a slot.” Is this to say acting no longer has any relevance in getting nominated? If not I am surprised Thompson is so passive in referencing Anne Hathaway earlier in the same piece.

I do like the headline for the anonymous review at The Playlist: “Just Give Her The Oscar: Kristin Scott Thomas Is Devastating In ‘I’ve Loved You So Long'”, but unfortunately the continued lack of attention toward the performance of Elsa Zylberstein bothers me to no end.

Most years it is very difficult to compile a list of actresses, but this year is easier with a lot of names to pick from already with folks still anticipating a look at Meryl Streep in Doubt, Cate Blanchett in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Kate Winslet in The Reader and Revolutionary Road, Nicole Kidman in Australia and Kate Beckinsale in Nothing But the Truth. However, what about the guys? Lets look beyond the ladies for a moment and see what’s offered on the low-hanging side of things…

Mickey Rourke made a splash at the fests with The Wrestler, Richard Jenkins has been talked about with The Visitor (a film I have yet to see, but just arrived via Netflix) and Frank Langella seems to be a lock for Frost/Nixon. However, beyond that we are sitting rather stale. You look at the Supporting category and you have Heath Ledger from The Dark Knight and Eddie Marsan in Happy-Go-Lucky and you are done. However, like the ladies, the men have a few things to look forward to as well, just not as much

Of course Sean Penn is being discussed for Milk, Leo DiCaprio for Revolutionary Road, Clint Eastwood for Gran Torino and Brad Pitt for Benjamin Button but I don’t feel any kind of real excitement behind any of these picks. Yeah, the films haven’t screened yet, but pundits aren’t bashful beasts and the year is beginning to feel like a build-up for disappointment. If the late year films aren’t able to move the Academy as expected I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jenkins rumble into that lead category and grab the hardware for himself, which would be considered an upset simply because the film screened earlier in the year, but I doubt many would be surprised.

Talk surrounding Defiance has been relatively quiet outside of murmurs boasting Liev Schreiber’s contribution as a supporting actor. With The Road and The Soloist getting bumped to 2009 it means the actor categories lost slots potentially reserved for Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx and Viggo Mortenson. Body of Lies didn’t do anything to encourage Russell Crowe getting another nom and it would be interesting to see Josh Brolin get a supporting nod for his role in Milk while his most talked about performance in W. is looking like an unlikely candidate.

To look at the most recent prediction piece at the Los Angeles Times not a whole lot has changed with Frank Langella and Mickey Rourke looking like locks followed by Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Clint Eastwood. All five are in films yet to be released in the States so don’t put too much stock in those picks just yet.

One performance not being talked a whole lot about is Philip Seymour Hoffman in Doubt. There is no word on whether Miramax will push him as a supporting actor or lead, but if the Supporting category remains this wide open I would guess it would have to be there, that is unless next Thursday night’s early screening gets rave responses, then we may have to rethink all of these predictions.

Another actor performance to talk about would be Dustin Hoffman and I just added the trailer for his flick, Last Chance Harvey, to the Oscar Contenders section while at the same time I removed The Road and The Soloist from contention. You can check out that Last Chance Harvey trailer right here.

One final note, I wanted to leave you with one last bit of pictorial advice that has nothing to do with the Oscars, but has everything to do with voting…