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[ed. note: Apologies for the delay in posting this QotW.  My computer’s hard drive crashed last week (for the second time this year), so our responses may be slightly out of date.  This question went out before TIFF and Venice.  Hopefully we’ll get back on schedule soon.]

This week’s installment: What yet-to-be-released potential Oscar contender or contenders are you most looking forward to seeing?

John

I had been getting excited for this fall, but when I went to check the list of suspected contenders at the usual awards sites, well, yikes. I mean, did you know there’s a period piece this winter about King George IV’s speech impediment and how he overcame it? Lord.

For now the prognosticators can play it safe with the likes of Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours. (How do you go from pulsating Mumbai to a whole movie where a guy is just stuck under a rock? It sounds like a snoozefest.) But as time goes on some of these pictures that have awards season written all over them will fall by the wayside and some interesting stuff will take their places. Meanwhile, the one I’m most looking forward to is Black Swan. Darren Aronofsky has a terrific track record and this one is a psychological thriller with Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. Okay, so it’s set in the world of ballet, but otherwise it couldn’t sound more exciting.

I’m also looking forward to True Grit. An interesting string of westerns have come out in recent years and the Coens’ take on any genre is something to anticipate. I can totally see Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin in a western, but I’m interested to see what Matt Damon will do.

Finally, I have Another Year and Blue Valentine pegged as this year’s films I will love that the rest of the Grouches hate.

Jared

In case anyone out there would like a summary of the very rough Oscar picture, I though In Contention did a nice job recently.

I dunno, John.  Sure, The King’s Speech is Oscar-baity as all get out.  But it was directed by the guy who did The Damned United and features a pretty fun cast, including Colin Firth in the lead.

You definitely stole one from me, though.  Sure, Portman and Kunis are ridiculously attractive, but I tend to have extremely visceral reactions to Aronofsky’s work (well, The Wrestler was a little more muted, I suppose).  Similarly, the pairing of Knightley and Mulligan has me intrigued for Never Let Me Go.

There’s also a few films being bandied about now for the Oscar race that I’m not yet convinced will make an impact.  If The Tourist actually makes a play, you are looking at a film with Jolie, Depp, and Paul Bettany directed by the guy who did The Lives of Others and written by guys who wrote Gosford Park, The Young Victoria, The Day After Tomorrow, and The Usual Suspects.  And you may have recently seen the trailer for Love and Other Drugs.  I haven’t loved the few Ed Zwick movies I’ve seen, but I was completely sold on the trailer.

But if I had to name one film, it’d be The Social Network.  In Jesse Eisenberg, it has the star of my favorite 2009 film.  Rooney Mara seems on the verge of a breakout.  While I haven’t loved David Fincher’s films, I’ve certainly liked them.  Plus he did the video for Englishman in New York!  But, of course, the main reason I’m most looking forward to the film is because it was written by Aaron Sorkin.

We’re starting a new feature here. Each week (roughly), the Grouches will tackle a different question. Have a question you want to seen in (virtual) print? E-mail us! goldengrouchesATgmailDOTcom. This week’s installment: What do you think are Inception’s Oscar chances (and why)?

Jared

I think Inception has a pretty clear path to some technical nods and will turn a good chunk of those into wins, most likely.  Sound and Visual Effects have lately been reserved for summer blockbusters, but we really saw most of the contenders there (e.g. Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia) underperform.  The film, undeniably, was visually stunning, so Art Direction and Cinematography nominations seem probable.  And will make up for the lack of Directing and Picture nominations.  Obviously we have a long way to go, and the movie could very well make the cut if some contenders fail.  But I see two major stumbling blocks.  First, the movie felt very cold.  I was unable to get into any of the characters and left with a detached feeling.  And I don’t think I was alone.  Looking over recent history, the Academy tends to favor films that tap into emotion, even if sometimes a bit maudlin.  Second, I understand the argument that the move to ten nominees was a direct response to The Dark Knight‘s snub and the Academy loves itself some makeup awards.  But I see a group that has a demonstrated opposition to Nolan’s films.  Other than writing, which I think is the award for which he’ll have to settle.

Brian

I agree with Jared about the techinical nods, but disagree that Inception has any shot at writing or directing or picture nominations. The highest up the prestige ladder that I see Inception going is a cinematography nom, maybe even a win, for many of those stunning shots Jared referred to. And while I enjoyed the Hans Zimmer score, if his stronger (and frightening) work for Dark Knight can be disqualified for “too many collaborators“, then there is no way his unfairly-maligned work on Inception gets recognized for borrowing from “Nom, Je Ne Regrette Rien.”

At this point it is hard to separate critical and public acclaim from Academy politics, mostly because the latter hasn’t really geared up yet. Anecdotally and going by Rotten Tomato scores, I’m of the opinion that Dark Knight was more broadly appreciated by critics and viewers alike. I don’t recall nearly as much ridicule of Dark Knight as I’ve heard of Inception (misplaced or not, it’s out there — and not just because its Christopher Nolan.) For that reason, I see it whiffing on script, directing, and picture nominations as well. I know the Academy loves their make-up awards, but those go to stalwarts of the industry, not relative newcomers — foreign ones at that. And also — much like how The Aviator was supposed to be Scorsese’s “make-up” win, people saw it and were underwhelmed. That just wasn’t his “one.” I don’t think Inception is Nolan’s.

Nobody in Inception can come close to matching Heath Ledger’s Joker, and that’s before his tragic death raised the likeliness of Oscar appreciation. I’m interested to hear if our other two grouches see any possible acting nominations — because I don’t see them at all.

John

These summer movies are so hard to call for Best Picture. Last year I felt certain about Up and Inglourious Basterds being in the mix at this time of the year. It’s much harder for Toy Story 3 and Inception. My brain tells me both are in – easily – but my gut says something isn’t quite right. I keep thinking Inception didn’t have the same sort of cultural impact that last year’s big summer Oscar films had, but the $250 million and counting in the bank begs to differ.

I guess it comes down to this, or at least this is what my brain tells me: if District 9 can make it into Best Picture there’s no way Inception doesn’t, too. And in this case I think Christopher Noan helps. Not so much as a makeup nomination but because the kerfluffle around The Dark Knight‘s snub will give some voters enough pause to reconsider a nod for the film. Furthermore, there isn’t the same sort of populist groundswell forming that demands a nomination for Inception the way it did for Dark Knight, which I think ultimately resulted in a backlash from Academy members. Again, the profile is District 9 (with twice the box office receipts).

Then of course it’ll do well in all the tech categories, including Score. But I think Leo is the only one with a chance at an acting nomination and only if it has momentum during awards season. And if Leo gets a nod, then Nolan’s getting one for everything he can: Director, Original Screenplay, Picture and Inception is vying for Best Picture.

Adam

I wasn’t planning on answering this. Then I thought I might just rip on the rest of yours instead of answering. After reading all of yours, I really couldn’t do anything else.

I’m glad I had the e-mail addresses attached to them because they all seem to be the same…

1.) Inception not as loved/good as Dark Knight
2.) Academy loves “makeup” awards.
3.) Not as many people liked Inception/ more people whined about it, so probably won’t get Best Picture
4.) Will be nominated for and probably win some of the technical categories

But I guess there are some differences…

  • Jared doesn’t like to make a decision so he makes sure to hedge his bets and say it has a chance in all categories, but gives reasons it may fail.
  • Brian makes sure to have at least 3 shout-outs (Zimmer, Scorsese, Ledger) to ensure people know he is a connoisseur…he doesn’t just watch movies, he studies them.
  • John puts as many movie & movie history references as possible to make sure people know he watches movies and is smart (or at least smarter than Brian).
  • Adam acts the coward by waiting until everyone has gone before him, making cuts at everything they say, and never providing his own opinion for them to disagree with or ridicule.

Questions all of this raises…

  1. Is this a post? Who knows?
  2. Is it helpful to the “Question of the Week”? Absolutely not.
  3. Have I entertained my fellow Grouches? Do I give a fuck?

Oh, and Nolan is spelled with an “l” in the middle.

August 2017
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