Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Oscar 2010: Post-Telluride Predictions

This weekend a number of things happened that changed the state of the Oscar race considerably. Most, if not all of them, happened at Telluride. However, of the films weakened by their premiere, at the Venice Film Festival the most obvious has to be Miral, from director Julian Schnabel. I never had faith in the film, because I believe that a film's quality should be present in the trailer and not in the name of the man behind it, and I didn't see anything significant. Fortunately enough, Miral wasn't the only card The Weinstein Company had to play.

Lingering just a little longer on Venice, the other film that was revealed not to have as high Oscar prospects as expected was Somewhere. Do not take this at all to mean that the film isn't great. It simply isn't what the Academy is looking for, which I think will work for the better of the film. Often people set up the highest expectations for films with Oscar potential, and those expectations aren't met. Somewhere looks like the kind of film that you can enjoy without worrying whether or not it will strike Oscar gold.

Without a doubt, the biggest hit of Venice so far (as they still have the rest of the week to go) has been Black Swan. The trailer was absolutely stunning, and it put both critics and general audiences behind this film, which is no easy feat. According to the reviews, it lived up to the trailer, and I've heard plenty of nice things said about this film. Problem is, I don't think this is the sort of film that the Academy will be able to wrap their head around. It looks like a genre film and in that way it will be a success and I look forward to seeing it. It probably will earn Natalie Portman a Best Actress nomination, but for now, I'm keeping Black Swan off my predictions for Best Picture.

Passing on to Telluride, the biggest disappointment of the festival would have to be the announcement that Peter Weir's The Way Back would be released in January, thus taking it out of Oscar contention. The film has gotten good reviews, and may have been nominated if people had a little more faith in it. Other than that news, the only film of the festival that even came close to disappointing is Never Let Me Go. That film, more than any other this weekend, really divided both critics and audiences. Some people were deeply touched, while some left the theater with a cold feeling, having gotten nothing from the experience. I have my doubts on this little brit, and am keeping it out in the cold until I see it.

Now getting to the films that truly made the cut, 127 Hours made its surprise premiere, and critics really appreciated it. Despite it spending nearly the entire film in a specific environment, and being a bit shorter than most dramas, playing on the screen for just over 90 minutes, this film seems to put up enough energy to keep it from being just another film. Then, I don't think there's a thing I could say that I haven't already said about The King's Speech. It delivered, and gave Harvey Weinstein something he could put into the ring as Miral failed. We have no trailers or clips for it yet, but we're still highly anticipating the opportunity to see it.

Finally, we got some confirmation on a few things that were a little uncertain of after Cannes. Critics have clearly gotten behind Another Year, and it seems like now it's a sure thing for a nomination. As for Biutiful, the consensus is still that the film isn't all that special, but Javier Bardem's performance in it is amazing. So I'll be surprised if he is not nominated for Best Actor this year. So for now, I'm filling out the rest of my Best Picture list with four films that have yet to be formally released and reviewed: The Social Network, True Grit, Hereafter, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Next stop is Toronto this Thursday.

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