We are currently in the eye of the Fall film festival hurricane as the Telluride Film Festival wrapped up on Monday and the Toronto International Film Festival is slated to begin tomorrow. Meanwhile the Venice Film Festival carries on with a few more high profile entries slated to premiere over the next several weeks. It won’t be until the end of the TIFF before we have a clear picture of the Oscar race, but based on the reviews out of Telluride and Venice things are definitely starting to come into focus.
George Clooney was one of the central figures at both the Venice and Telluride Film Festival this past weekend. His film The Ides of March opened the Venice Film Festival and Alexander Payne’s film The Descendants, in which Clooney stars, premiered in Telluride. The Ides of March opened to mixed reviews with most critics seeming to agree that it was a respectable effort and a solid political drama, but nothing near the level Clooney reached with his Best Picture nominated Good Night, and Good Luck. Some were over the moon about it, like Entertainment Weekly’s Dave Karger who suggested it might be a slam dunk for Best Picture. However, it needs some major critical support on this side of the pond in order to move forward with a successful awards campaign. Until that happens I’m putting it in the DROP category.
Clooney’s other film The Descendants, however, received the biggest boost of the weekend with critics hailing it as one of the best of the Telluride Film Festival and some even suggesting it might be Alexander Payne’s best film. We will need to hear more reviews from Toronto, but right now it seems like the closest thing there is to a lock for Best Picture. Clooney also gets added to the BOOST column, for what has been described as one of his best performances. The screenplay was already high on the list, but you can also add Supporting Actress Shelley Woodard to the list of potential boosts as she could definitely score a nomination if that category doesn’t get any stronger.
Every year I get behind a film early that I think is destined for great things. This year that film was David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, which I predicted for Best Picture, Actor, and a few other categories. My instincts appear to be wrong as the film received mixed reviews in Venice and Telluride and In Contention critic Guy Lodge suggests that it might end up just fading away. Take Fassbender out of the race for Best Actor for A Dangerous Method and put him back in for another movie that premiered over the weekend – Steve McQueen’s Shame. The film seems like it’s too dark and overtly sexual for the Academy’s tastes, but Fassbender is having such a fantastic year that it would be a surprise if he is not at least in the conversation.
Speaking of hyped up performances, Roman Polanski’s Carnage premiered in Venice looking like it would be a powerhouse of acting talent. With Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster, and John C. Reilly many Oscar prognosticators turned their attention to the Lido to see if the actors would deliver. When the reviews came in it sounded like only Waltz added enough to the film to be recognized as a stand-alone acting nominee. He may sneak into the Best Supporting Actor race, but for everyone else in the cast consider them a DROP.
Along with The Descendants another film that got some huge buzz behind it after premiering in Venice was Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The film received raves for almost every performer, especially leading man Gary Oldman. He could sneak into the Best Actor race and the film overall could earn nominations for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Original Score and a few more. It will highly depend on support from American audiences, but it should get a strong BAFTA boost to help its chances.
Finally, in non-Festival news we still have The Help doing huge business at the U.S. Box Office. I think I am finally ready to board The Help train and put in on my lists as a potential Best Picture nominee. I think when the year ends enough people will have it as their number one movie of the year to earn it a nomination under the new system.
Check out this week’s Boosts and Drops below as well as the updated Oscar charts.
Boosts/Drops for September 6
The Descendants, The Artist, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Help
A Dangerous Method, The Ides of March, Drive
Alexander Payne – The Descendants, Tomas Alfredson – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Steve McQueen – Shame
David Cronenberg – A Dangerous Method, George Clooney – The Ides of March
George Clooney – The Descendants, Gary Oldman – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Michael Fassbender – Shame
Michael Fassbender – A Dangerous Method
Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs
Jodie Foster – Carnage, Keira Knightley – A Dangerous Method
What are your thoughts on the current Oscar race?