Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Oscars 2016: As The Season Begins...

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to another episode of Topic Of The Day. The fall festival circuit is just around the corner and that means awards season will officially kick in to high gear. So I figured I'd offer up a few things to keep in mind.

On my blog, I often talk about Oscar films that focus on checking the most boxes whether they are real-life stories or adaptations of Broadway musicals with pedigree casts. But I would say that when looking at the upcoming slate of contenders, look past the pedigree. When the trailers for Bridge of Spies came out, I didn't really buy it as a legitimate contender despite the checked boxes (Spielberg and Hanks re-teaming for another war movie) because the trailers weren't very mesmerizing like the teaser for Carol. Honestly, I keep forgetting about the existence of Bridge of Spies which isn't the greatest sign. So what I am getting at is that a contender with a lot of prestige doesn't always translate to breathing awards fire. Just ask the makers of J. Edgar, Amelia, Nine, The Judge, Wild, Foxcatcher, Into The Woods, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. They'll tell you. While a lot of these films did get at least one nod, they weren't the juggernauts that I'm sure their studios were hoping they'd be.

It's the same thing with performances as well. Take for example Jennifer Aniston. Plenty of us thought she was a lock for a Best Actress nod because of, not just her aggressive campaign, but because of the boxes her performance checks: Comedian going serious, glamorous actress stripping off her makeup, illness, etc.. But low and behold, she was left out in favor of critical darling Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night. That brings me to my next point. Pay attention to the critics. Look at a few key critics awards: LAFCA, NYFCC, BSFC, NSFC, NYFCO, Online Film Critics Society, and the National Board of Review. When a film or performance is getting ignored by the guilds, they're usually pretty good at predicting a dark horse or fringe contender that sneaks in like Marion Cotillard who won the NYFCC, NSFC, BFSC, and NYFCO award for her work in Two Days, One Night and The Immigrant. While critics don't run the Oscars, they still matter as to who gets in.

Some of the contenders this year for say, Best Actress, are previous nominees and/or winners (Julianne Moore, Carey Mulligan, Jennifer Lawrence, etc.). But I wouldn't be quick to put them on my predictions on Gold Derby as of right now because for all we know, their films could falter. So as of right now, I would lean more towards performances that plenty have seen already like Blythe Danner in indie crowd pleaser I'll See You In My Dreams, Charlotte Rampling who won Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival for 45 Years, and even Charlize Theron who received some pretty loud buzz in Mad Max: Fury Road. Of course, there is talk about previous winner Cate Blanchett being a possible frontrunner in Carol but thankfully that film screened already at Cannes.

So going into this upcoming awards season, my biggest advice is to look past the pedigree. While being a previous winner or nominee certainly helps a performance or a film's cause, it doesn't make one an automatic guarantee as a frontrunner. Some of this year's early critical darlings are Inside Out, Straight Outta Compton, Love and Mercy, and Mad Max: Fury Road. If we pay attention to films like those in case a prestigious pedigree film falls flat, then those more out of the box contenders could have a legitimate fighting chance if we give them plenty of attention. If any of them win the major critics circles I just mentioned, then I would keep a watchful eye on them.

Whether you agree or disagree with my thoughts, please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading and here is to a great awards season!