Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Post Gotham and Indie Spirit Oscar Analysis

Some years, those that do well on the early indie circuit, particularly Gotham and The Independent Spirit awards, end up being nominated, and sometimes winning at the Oscars. This has become more prevalent in recent years, as the lines between mainstream and independent become blurred. This year, we have a great crop of independent films, however, with so many big, studio films doing so well, I think that this set of films is going to have a particularly difficult time breaking into the Oscar field. Here is the list of contenders that got a huge boost going into the critics awards next week, and those that faltered.

  • Beasts of the Southern wild has been consistently on people's Best Picture lists (it just recently got off of mine, but it now may sneak back on to it after its great performance at both Gotham and Indie Spirits). I have said all along that its hope for getting into that race is to have a strong precursor campaign. If it starts racking up critics notices in the coming weeks, I think its hopes continue to rise. The one thing still holding it back is SAG, but we have seen plenty of performances and films overcome lack of SAG, and even if it isn't eligible, that doesn't mean that it doesn't have support among actors.
  • Moonrise Kingdom, in my opinion, while being one of the year's best films is also just a little too quirky for the Academy as a whole. However, with it strong showing here, and maybe with a strong showing in the critics top ten lists, Moonrise can at least convince the writers branch to put it into Original Screenplay.
  • Silver Linings Playbook didn't really need a lot of help, and honestly, I didn't think it met the $20 million threshold, but alas it did in the eyes of the nomination comittee and the film scored several nods including Actor and Actress which are nice nods for two very realistic Oscar nominees, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.
  • Middle of Nowhere has been slowly building buzz from pundits, and after receiving four nominations including all three of its stars. I know that its screenplay did not make the cut this time (which is kind of ridiculous if you ask me), but I think that at the Oscars, this is the nomination it should aim for. Almost every year the writing branch of the Academy has a surprise nomination. That nod usually comes from an independent or foreign film that has received little Oscar buzz like Margin Call, In the Loop, Frozen River, etc. I think that if it makes some top ten lists and keeps up its buzz, it could join that list of surprise screenplay nominees.
  • Ann Dowd has been floated around for months as a Supporting Actress nominee. The category is weak, and is ripe for a surprise nominee. While I still don't think it will happen it is nice to see she hasn't been forgotten.
  • Jack Black has so much to overcome to get an Actor nod, and like Dowd I don't think it will happen, but as long as he keeps getting positive notices, then he stays in the conversation.
  • Matthew McConaughey has had a hell of a year, and next year looks to be pretty damn good as well. He scored not one, but two nominations (is Magic Mike independent? Ah who the hell cares!). I know people are counting him out of Supporting Actor as they don't see Magic Mike as the kind of film that gets looked at by Academy members. But like Dowd and Black ahead of him, he is on the cusp of being a surprise contender, and if not, it may help boost his chances in future projects that look baity.
  • Dwight Henry has so many legendary, big names to go up against this year, but he has still held on as a possibility. But I do have to say this. If they loved Beasts of the Southern Wild so much, how did he not get a nomination? This does not bode well for an Oscar nod, as it seems that all the support will be thrown behind Quvenzhane Wallis.
  • Shirley MacLaine. One again, with such a weak year in Supporting Actress, we have to look for dark horse contenders that could surprise. And while Bernie wasn't exactly the biggest hit in the world, people love Shirley MacLaine, and she is an acting legend. Getting an Indie Spirit nod would have been a nice boost, but alas, it looks like her Oscar hopes, like her character, are dead.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower did manage a First Feature nod, which is nice, but I thought that maybe the cast, especially Lerman and Miller were distinct possibilities.
My final thought is this. Obviously an Indie Spirit nod/win is nice, but it is the upcoming attractions, particularly the guild awards that really matter. As always, we'll have to wait and see what happens, but for now, I am happy to say that the Oscar race has officially begun!!

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