October 15, 2011

THE STATUETTE STAKES: The Contenders (Part 2)

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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Today, we return to SHOWBUZZDAILY‘s coverage of the Oscar race (see Part 1 here, with an introduction to those contenders best called the Field–these may not be the favorites, but even as longer shots they’re still in the race.
YOUNG ADULT (Paramount – Dec. 9)
SHOWBUZZDAILY odds to be nominated:  3/1
Bookie odds to win:  33/1
Good Bet:  From Jason Reitman, whose Up In the Air probably should have won the last time around.  Although it hasn’t officially been screened, people have been seeing it, and there’s enormous buzz around the script and Charlize Theron’s performance in the lead.
Bad Bet:  No one defines “backlash” these days better than screenwriter Diablo Cody post-Juno.  Reitman annoyed some of the industry with the treatment of the other credited screenwriter on Air.  The film could easily be relegated to the Best Actress category alone.

SHOWBUZZDAILY odds to be nominated:  4/1
Bookie odds to win:  12/1
Good Bet:  Sony will be citing The Silence of the Lambs endlessly on this one–a violent bestseller that won it all.  The trailer looks sensational.  After Social Network, David Fincher is owed.
Bad Bet:  Silence was 20 years ago, and the Academy doesn’t normally go for hard-R violence.  Spielberg had to wait almost 20 years for his Oscar, and Scorsese’s wait was roughly 30; who told Fincher he was on the express bus?

THE TREE OF LIFE (Fox Searchlight – Released May 27)

SHOWBUZZDAILY odds to be nominated:  5/1
Bookie odds to win:  14/1

Good Bet:  Terence Malick is as revered as any contemporary filmmaker, and quite a few people consider this a masterpiece.

Bad Bet:  A lot of other people it’s bloated and overrated.  Malick doesn’t do Oscar campaigns, and Brad Pitt will be pushing for Moneyball.  Searchlight will be spending the bulk of its efforts on The Descendants and Shame, which will be in the midst of their theatrical runs, rather than a film already on homevideo.

SHOWBUZZDAILY odds to be nominated:  11/2
Bookie odds to win:  7/1
Good Bet:  A serious, smart thriller with a superb cast, based on one of the most acclaimed spy novels ever written.  Lots of critical acclaim when it screened in Venice.
Bad Bet:  Everyone (well, everyone in the Academy) remembers Alec Guinness in the BBC miniseries, and that’s a tough comparison.  Will Oscar voters be able to follow the story?
THE IRON LADY (Weinstein – Dec. 16)
SHOWBUZZDAILY odds to be nominated: 6/1
Bookie odds to win:  18/1
Good Bet:  Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher.  And enough time has gone by since her last win that she’s owed, damn it.
Bad Bet:  From the director of Mamma Mia!  And why didn’t Harvey Weinstein show it at any of the fall film festivals?  Harvey Watch says that he’s favoring The Artist and My Week With Marilyn.

MONEYBALL (Sony – Released Sept. 23)
SHOWBUZZDAILY odds to be nominated:7/1
Bookie odds to win:  14/1
Good Bet:  95% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, $54M in the bank (and still counting) and all for a movie no one thought could even be made.  Brad Pitt in a career-best performance. 
Bad Bet: Comparisons to The Social Network are unfair, but… it’s not The Social Network.  It’ll be out of the zeitgeist by the time all the shiny new holiday season movies arrive.  Is Pitt’s performance showy enough to garner awards?

CARNAGE (Sony Classics – Dec. 16)
SHOWBUZZDAILY odds to be nominated:  8/1
Bookie odds to win:  33/1
Good Bet:  Tony Award winning play, all-star cast, Oscar-winning director.
Bad Bet:  Polanski isn’t winning a second Oscar, at least not for an 81-minute filmed play.  Film festival reviews have been mixed so far.
HUGO (Paramount – Nov. 23)
SHOWBUZZDAILY odds to be nominated:  9/1
Bookie odds to win:  24/1
Good Bet:  Scorsese.  In 3D, no less!  And so classy that the New York Film Festival showed it as a surprise work-in-progress for the first time ever.  (Shhh… pay no attention to the family movie ad campaign, it’s really about film preservation.)

Bad Bet:  Scorsese or not, it’s a kids movie, and opening against heavy competition over Thanksgiving (The Muppets and Arthur Christmas on the family side; The Artist, A Dangerous Method and My Week With Marilyn on the serious end).  It may get squeezed out.

A DANGEROUS METHOD (Sony Classics – Nov. 23)
SHOWBUZZDAILY odds to be nominated:  10/1
Bookie odds to win:  25/1
Good Bet:  A supremely classy historical story (Freud and Jung), very fine actors in Michael Fassbinder, Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley, and David Cronenberg is the kind of director who no one ever realizes was owed an Oscar until he has one.  Sony Pictures Classics knows how to sell a picture like this better than anyone,
Bad Bet:  Film festival verdict was that it’s intelligent and well-acted all right, but also dry and talky.

TOMORROW:  The Also Eligible.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."