Thursday, December 6, 2012

Post-NYFCC and NBR Oscar Analysis

Only two critics awards in, and this awards season is proving to be an interesting one to say the least. A Best Picture frontrunner has emerged, and the acting awards are simply all over the place. See who has gained traction and who has lost traction over the last week, and where we go from here as more critics awards, as well as key nominations start pouring in over the next two weeks.

  • Zero Dark Thirty has gone from unknown contender to the top of the pile in a very short time. Being hailed with excellent reviews has led to two quick and decisive victories for both the film and its director Kathryn Bigelow. I still maintain that it might not be an Academy friendly film, so we could have a 2010 on our hands, where one film (Zero Dark Thirty) carries the critics circuit, but a more Academy-friendly film (Lincoln, Argo, or Les Miserables) ends up running the gauntlet on the guilds.
  • Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence are definitely the frontrunners, as Chastain won the NBR and Lawrence only lost out on the NYFCC because a compromise was struck to move on. Despite her win resulting in a compromise, Rachel Weisz's showing at NYFCC means there are still those out there that support her performance, and this definitely keeps her name in the conversation.
  • With so many previous winners populating the Supporting Actor category, a dynamic performance coming in and sweeping victory away is not at all out of the realm of possibility. And with the NYFCC and NBR two such contenders have staked their claim in this race. The first is Leonardo DiCaprio, who apparently, along with co-star Samuel L. Jackson are awesome in Django Unchained, and with his NBR win, Dicaprio has put himself in the race. The other one is a little more surprising. Following up his double nomination at the Indie Spirits, Matthew McConaughey has won the NYFCC award for his performances in Magic Mike and Bernie. This doesn't necessarily guarantee Oscar success, but it does mean that his great comeback year has a chance of getting noticed. It is worth noting that with the exception of last year (Albert Brooks really was snubbed), winners of this award have usually been nominees in recent years, and even some winners.
  • In the tight Best Actor race, every accolade helps. So Both Bradley Cooper and Daniel Day-Lewis benefitted from wins, although I still think this is Day-Lewis' to lose, I think that Cooper is making his way into the top five.
  • Ann Dowd followed up her Indie Spirit nod with a NBR win, and with that fifth slot still floating out there, she has put herself squarely in the conversation.
  • At NYFCC, Sally Field barely beat Anne Hathaway, and it looks like our battle for Best Supporting Actress begins, with these two at the top.
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild and Quvenzhane Wallis had a nice showing at NBR. If both keep up the critics notices, both keep themselves in the Oscar race.
  • Looper's NBR success may not mean much in the long run, but it is nice to see it getting notices, maybe an Original Screenplay nod is not such a far-fetched idea after all.
  • Frankenweenie and Wreck-It Ralph leap ahead in Animated Feature race.
  • Les Miserables, Argo, and Lincoln all got runner ups or wins in different categories in both critics awards, which means they are definitely in this race. But wins and nominations soon from some group will be needed unless they want Zero Dark Thirty to quickly and permanently take this race over. 
  • The Master needs critical support, and runner ups at NYFCC are nice, but when a film like this, which is not the most Oscar-friendly, is fighting for votes, wins, not runners-up or possibles, are the key, and right now it doesn't have any. 
  • Brave may not be Pixar's best, but it is still pretty good, but looks like it has a lot of competition. Maybe for once the Animated Feature race won't be such a wash, which is good for Wreck-It Ralph and Frankenweenie, and bad for Brave. 
  • The Sessions feels like it is dying, which is not good for its stars. no NBR top ten on either list is not a good sign.
The biggest point to make is that while these early critics awards are important, as they set the tone for the season, they are not the be all to end all. They have no votes within the Academy, and the winds of the season could change dramatically at any time. That being said, they are the first to speak and whether we like it or not, they do hold some sway. This weekend we get LA and Boston, and next week, the big kahunas hit their marks: Golden Globes, Critics Choice, and of course SAG. My next weekend the Oscar race will look a lot clearer.

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