Oscar Update: ‘Inglourious’ Options, Best Actress Race, Scorsese Shuttered and More

Well, it’s been almost a month since my last Oscar Update and a lot has happened in that time so along with the upcoming news bits and updates I have also updated the prediction charts in “The Contenders” section. So let’s get started…

Very quickly I will just note for those of you that Shutter Island has been moved from its October release date to February 19, 2010. The move says nothing of the film’s potential quality as much as it pretty much says Paramount doesn’t see it as an Oscar contender so it will save its money in terms of an awards campaign and push it for a nice opening in February. This will make for the third Scorsese film to open in February following The King of Comedy in 1983 and Taxi Driver in 1976. With ten slots in the Best Picture race nowadays who knows what could happen?

Next we have this weekend’s release of Inglourious Basterds and questions over what kind of Oscar potential it has. Until today, I had Christoph Waltz on the cut-line looking in at the other Best Supporting Actor nominees, but no longer. He is in the top five and based on the only two performances I have seen of the bunch on my current list, he is battling it out with Alfred Molina (An Education) for the early lead.

As far as other Basterds potential, I just don’t really see any. As much as I love the film I look around reading some of even the positive reviews saying how Tarantino writes great scenes, but has no idea how to move from one to the next. This could speak to the quality of his script, his directing or the editing. I don’t particularly have a problem with any of these details, but I would be willing to admit he opens his latest film extraordinarily strong, slows down and ultimately wins the audience over with a fantastic ending. Some find negatives here and they are negatives that could hold the film back. Then again, he already won an Oscar for a script that involved a man carrying a watch in his rectum. Oh, and wouldn’t it be great to see Fassbender get a supporting nom for his performance as Archie Hicox?

The Academy can sometimes be hard to judge and I think categories such as Best Original Screenplay will be much easier to sort out as we move along, but I won’t be writing off Inglourious Basterds anytime soon considering the news Inarritu’s Biutiful may not be released this year and the fact Apatow’s Funny People didn’t do so well. But that still has Tarantino battling out with the likes of the following in alphabetical order:

  • (500) Days of Summer – Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
  • Bright Star – Jane Campion
  • Broken Embraces – Pedro Almodovar
  • The Hurt Locker – Mark Boal
  • A Serious Man – Joel and Ethan Coen
  • Up – Bob Peterson

You tell me, do you see it fitting inside the top five with those names?

Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan in An Education

Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

Now I move to Roger Friedman’s Best Actress piece at THR that has both Kris Tapley and Jeffrey Wells tapping out opinion pieces in response.

Friedman offers up the opening commentary:

We may be in trouble, folks. Even though the Academy has opened up Best Picture to 10 nominees, there seems to be a shortage of choices in another category.

There’s an alarming scarcity in the Best Actress division. Not only has this been a pretty terrible year for movies in general, it’s been worse for women. For some reason, no one’s written them any good leading roles. There are plenty in the Supporting Actress category, but very few and far between in lead.

His selections of possibles include:

  • Meryl Streep (Julie and Julia, It’s Complicated)
  • Renee Zellweger (My One and Only)
  • Carey Mulligan (An Education)
  • Hilary Swank (Amelia)
  • Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria)
  • Mimi Kennedy (In the Loop)
  • Evan Rachel Wood (Whatever Works)
  • Penelope Cruz (Broken Embraces)
  • Rachel Weisz (The Lovely Bones)
  • Natalie Portman (Brothers)
  • Ellen Page (Whip It!)

Of that list I can tell you Streep and Mulligan are in, with Julie and Julia being the likely film to get Streep the nom, but like Wells I think it is Mulligan’s to lose at the moment, she is brilliant in that film as I just moved her into the top slot ahead of Swank who is a shoo-in with Amelia, a film that has been Oscar bait since it’s announcement and Swank is on familiar terms with the Academy. I don’t think Weisz’s performance in Bones is a lead one so I have her in Supporting and I don’t think Wood has a shot with Whatever Works.

Tapley throws in a few extra names to Friedman’s pessimistic piece such as Abbie Cornish in Bright Star (yup, she’s my current #4), Gwyneth Paltrow in Two Lovers (a film I have yet to see but heard good things), Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer (good, but don’t see it) and Tilda Swinton in Julia, which was released in May in only 4 theaters, but I have heard nothing but great things about Swinton’s performance. Julia actually just hit DVD and is coming to Netflix Instant Play on September 18th, which is when I will be sure to check it out.

Tapley is also on the mark with mentions of Audrey Tautou in Coco Before Chanel as well as Helen Mirren in Julie Taymor’s The Tempest, even though I have yet to receive confirmation of a 2009 release for Taymor’s film. I also wouldn’t count out Michelle Pfieffer for Cheri considering the Academy loves to shake things up and what better way to do it than by giving Pfieffer her first nom in 17 years?

Meryl Streep in Julie and Julia

Photo: Columbia Pictures

With all of this said, I have updated all six of my Contenders prediction charts. A couple of quick notes before you check them out:

  • Meryl Streep’s performance was previously listed as a Supporting performance and has now been moved to lead
  • Javier Bardem remains in the Best Actor race but has been moved down due to the fact the film may not be released in 2009

You can click on any of the following links to check them out. Each opens in a new window so just close the window to return to this post.

In a bit of industry news, Tom Sherak was elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last Tuesday, Actors Branch governor Tom Hanks was elected first vice president; Producers Branch governor Kathleen Kennedy and Writers Branch governor Phil Robinson were elected to vice presidents posts; Producers Branch governor Hawk Koch was elected treasurer; and Short Films and Feature Animation Branch governor John Lasseter was elected secretary. Ganis, representing the Public Relations Branch, will serve as immediate past president.

For those that like a little bit of insider information, word is Hanks was actually the first choice for president and was even nominated by Sherak who took the top spot. Nikki Finke has the story here.

Now remember, bookmark The Contenders or subscribe to the RSS Feed for continuous awards updates.

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