Monday, March 22, 2010

One Category at a Time: Best Picture, Part 2

Continued from yesterday's post:

The expanded field gives opportunities not only to popular studio entertainment, but also to independent efforts that would otherwise be too small to make a ripple in the awards race. Last year, we saw two Sundance darlings, An Education and Precious, make it through the year and to the Oscars without being killed by either their own hype or the hype of their competition. One film that turned people's heads at this year's fest was The Kids Are All Right, a comedy from writer/director Lisa Cholodenko that stars Julianne Moore and Anette Bening as a lesbian couple whose children invite their biological father into the family. Focus Features has opted for a mid-summer release instead of competing with the heavy-handed dramas at the end of the year. If handled correctly, this could be 2010's "little movie that could", an envious classification for any awards hopeful, but Focus needs to make sure that expectations aren't too high before the film is revealed.

Tom Hooper's The King's Speech doesn't have me particularly psyched up, but I'm including it here as the token Weinstein Co. film that'll make it in. Colin Firth plays King George VI, who employs a speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) to get rid of his stutter. If it's historical, it's got a shot, even if the movie is sub-par. Hey, maybe it'll be better than we think, but this preemptive vote of confidence is more for the savvy distributor more than it is for the film. The expanded Best Picture field gives it hope.

Robin Hood pairs Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott once again, trying to repeat the success of Gladiator. Sitting pretty with a May 14th release, it'll likely be Universal's mainstay throughout the summer, hitting the DVD racks just in time for campaign season. The recent nominations of District 9 and Inglourious Basterds show that summer hits aren't out of the question, but is Robin Hood high-concept enough? Or is it just another summer tentpole?

Terrence Malick's films often receive a lot of hype, even if only because he makes them so infrequently. His latest opus The Tree of Life has been floating in distribution limbo for ages, once slated as a mid-2009 release, then a late-2009 release, then word came that the film was unfinished, and now it's a TBD 2010 release from the newly-founded company Apparition. There's no denying that Malick is an artiste, but only one of his films (The Thin Red Line) ever grabbed the Academy's attention in a significant way. That was a while ago. Maybe they're ready to invite him back to the big dance. Simply out of intrigue, this is one of my most highly anticipated projects of the year.

Another hopeful that has me excited is Peter Weir's The Way Back, the story of soldiers fleeing a forced labour camp in 1940 Siberia. My knowledge of Weir's filmography is limited to only three titles, but two of them happen to be in my top 3 favourite films of all time! It sounds like it should be an interesting story, and the cast and crew looks impressive. It's worth noting that the film has secured neither a distributor nor a 2010 release date yet, but if it's complete in time to premiere this year, then it may well be in the mix.

Take these early predictions with as much salt as you can. My year-in-advance forecasting last year was horrendous, but nevertheless, here I go making a fool of myself again:

Predicted 10:
Betty Anne Waters
The Conspirator
Eat, Pray, Love

The Fighter
The King's Speech
The Kids Are All Right
Robin Hood
The Tree of Life
The Way Back

Also consider: Black Swan, How Do You Know?, The Ghost Writer, Never Let Me Go, Rabbit Hole, The Social Network, Somewhere.

1 comment:

Renard said...

Uhhh……Where's TOY STORY 3??? You gave it a 4-star review??? Hello?? Best picture/maybe Director/adapted screenplay noms??? Where is it in the predictions????