Off the Red Carpet: Weeks of 10/24 – 11/7

I took a week off last week, despite there being at least one piece of gigantic movie news, perhaps not Oscar relevant, but enough to make nerds on Twitter (myself included) flip out for better or worse.

But with the election now firmly behind us, I can focus on a race with just one president running (“Lincoln”).

President Obama defeats Mitt Romney in Presidential Election

Hey! Guess what? Now funding for “Sesame Street” and PBS won’t be cut and young kids will still like the movies and art for future generations!

Disney buys Lucasfilm for $4 billion, plans to make “Star Wars Episode VII”

“Star Wars” is now coming back in 2015, and I couldn’t be more disappointed. Even if “Star Wars” has become something of a joke since the prequels and having the “Star Wars” name on your product in fact makes it worse, the “Star Wars” series, with George Lucas’s muddy fingers and all, had become bad but never boring.

For Disney, who also owns Marvel, to plan to release “Star Wars VII” in the same year as “The Avengers 2,” is to make it into another tentpole blockbuster and popcorn movie that will be instantly forgotten as soon as people walk out of the theater.

Rumors are now spilling in that Matthew Vaughn (“Kick-Ass,” “X-Men: First Class”) is in talks to direct, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fischer are all interested in reprising their roles, and George Lucas is supposed to still be a “consultant,” whatever that means. These are telltale signs that this is not going to be an interesting film that takes the franchise in a new direction but one that is sheer fanboy baiting. (via Collider)

21 films eligible for Best Animated Feature

The number of animated movies considered eligible each year for the Best Animated Feature Oscar dictates the number of nominees the category will have, three or five, and five will definitely be the winning number this year based on 21 films meeting the Academy’s requirements. This says to me that Disney could very well have three potential nominees this year with “Brave,” “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Frankenweenie.” Expect buzz for “Rise of the Guardians” and one of the Gkids (“The Secret of Kells,” “Chico and Rita”) distributed entries. (Full list via In Contention)

Box office numbers bode well for “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Flight,” “Argo”

In a big surprise, Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” trounced the weekly competition by raking in nearly $50 million on its opening weekend, double that of Robert Zemeckis’s “Flight,” a number that’s really nothing to scoff at. “Argo” also performed well in its third week by making $10 million, proving that this is a movie generating money by word of mouth that has the legs to go all the way to a Best Picture prize. Doing less well was “Cloud Atlas,” which in two weeks has only brought in $18 million of its over $100 million budget. (via Box Office Mojo)

“Hitchcock” premieres at AFI Film Fest

Film buffs are eagerly awaiting the movie “Hitchcock,” for obvious reasons, and early reviews of the movie say that although Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren provide their characters with range and depth, first time feature director Sacha Gervasi’s film is a lightweight entry that feels clunky at times and goes against the grain of what people actually know about Hitch. They also now have HBO’s “The Girl” to compare it against, which likewise received poor reviews by painting Hitchcock as little more than a peeping tom.

European Film Awards and British Independent Film Awards announce nominees

“Amour,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “The Intouchables,” and “The Imposter” are all among the nominees in two of Europe’s smaller award races, the European Film Awards and the British Independent Film Awards. The former nominated films that won’t get an American distribution this year and the latter nominated films that got American distribution last year. See the full lists here and here. (via In Contention)

Week 4 Predictions Chart

This week I’m adding in some preliminary Screenplay predictions since the rest of the field is unchanged in my mind.

Best Original Screenplay

Front Runners

Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola

The Master – Paul Thomas Anderson

Amour – Michael Haneke

Zero Dark Thirty – Mark Boal

Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino

Probables

The Intouchables – Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano

Flight – John Gatins

Magic Mike – Reid Carolin

Looper – Rian Johnson

Seven Psychopaths – Martin McDonagh

Promised Land – Matt Damon, Dave Eggers, John Krasinski

Long Shots

Smashed – James Ponsoldt, Susan Burke

Arbitrage – Nicholas Jarecki

Take This Waltz – Sarah Polley

I’m actually only really certain about one movie on this list, and that’s “Moonrise Kingdom.” I would be shocked if he didn’t make the cut here, but the others are based off the fact that they are either old Oscar favorites (Mark Boal, Tarantino) or are this year’s hopefuls (“The Master,” “Amour,” “The Intouchables”). I’m frankly more interested in the long shot upsets that could include the much deserved “Looper” or “Seven Psychopaths.” If “Margin Call” was any indication last year, the screenplay category has less to do with politicking than many of the other categories and will recognize quality above all.

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Front Runners

Argo – Chris Terrio

Silver Linings Playbook – David O. Russell

Beasts of the Southern Wild – Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeithlin

Lincoln – Tony Kushner, John Logan, Paul Webb

The Sessions – Ben Lewin

Probables

Life of Pi – David Magee

On the Road – Jose Rivera

Anna Karenina – Tom Stoppard

Les Miserables – William Nicholson

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

This is 40 – Judd Apatow

Long Shots

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – Ol Parker

Hitchcock – John J. McLaughlin

Cloud Atlas – Tom Tykwer, Andy and Lana Wachowski

The thing that gets people about the Adapted Screenplay category is that there’s often some confusion as to what implies adapted. Usually the belief is that the Academy recognizes adaptations of classic books or plays (see “Precious,” in years past and “On the Road,” “Anna Karenina” and “Life of Pi” this year). But that’s not always the case, and this year you actually have to films based on articles (“Argo” and “The Sessions”) one on a short story (“Beasts”) and one on American history (“Lincoln”). For all intensive purposes these screenplays are original, and their intensive craft and dialogue bolster their chances. “Beasts” and “Argo” aren’t exactly known for their scripts, so they may be ousted by something more bookish, but if “Argo” wants to call itself a Best Picture front runner, it will almost certainly have a screenplay nod.

 

Best Picture

Front Runners

Silver Linings Playbook

Argo

Lincoln

Life of Pi

Les Miserables

Probables

Moonrise Kingdom

Zero Dark Thirty

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Amour

The Master

Flight

Long Shots

Hitchcock

The Dark Knight Rises

Not Fade Away

Anna Karenina

Django Unchained

The Sessions

Promised Land

The Impossible

The Hobbit

Rust and Bone

I’m dropping “Hitchcock” from the probables category to being a long shot based on its very early AFI performance.

 

Best Actor

Front Runners

Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln

John Hawkes – The Sessions

Joaquin Phoenix – The Master

Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook

Denzel Washington – Flight

Probables

Anthony Hopkins – Hitchcock

Matt Damon – Promised Land

Hugh Jackman – Les Miserables

Jean-Louis Trintignant – Amour

Long Shots

Richard Gere – Arbitrage

Jamie Foxx – Django Unchained

Jake Gyllenhaal – End of Watch

Bill Murray – Hyde Park on Hudson

Jack Black – Bernie

Denis Lavant – Holy Motors

 

Best Actress

Front Runners

Marion Cotillard – Rust and Bone

Quvenzhane Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild

Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook

Helen Mirren – Hitchcock

Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty

Probables

Emmanuelle Riva – Amour

Judi Dench – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Keira Knightley – Anna Karenina

Mary Elizabeth Winstead – Smashed

Naomi Watts – The Impossible

Long Shots

Anne Hathaway – The Dark Knight Rises

Meryl Streep – Hope Springs

Rachel Weisz – The Deep Blue Sea

Jessica Chastain is now definitely going lead in “Zero Dark Thirty,” so there’s a good shot for her, but again, no one has seen the movie yet. Also, the film has pushed back its wide release to January 2013, so it’s possible that not all Oscar voters will get to see it when they need to.

 

Best Supporting Actor

Front Runners

Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master

Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln

Alan Arkin – Argo

Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook

John Goodman – Argo/Flight

Probables

Jude Law – Anna Karenina

Leonardo DiCaprio – Django Unchained

William H. Macy – The Sessions

Irrfan Kahn – Life of Pi

Jim Broadbent – Cloud Atlas

Long Shots

Chris Tucker – Silver Linings Playbook

Tom Holland – The Impossible

James Gandolfini – Zero Dark Thirty

Aaron Paul – Smashed

Omar Sy – The Intouchables

Dwight Henry – Beasts of the Southern Wild

Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained

Russell Crowe – Les Miserables

Matthew McConnaughey – Magic Mike

Michael Caine – The Dark Knight Rises

Michael Fassbender – Prometheus

Javier Bardem – Skyfall

Here I would say Jim Broadbent is really the only one to watch to potentially steal away that fifth spot from either Goodman or Arkin.

 

Best Supporting Actress

Front Runners

Amy Adams – The Master

Helen Hunt – The Sessions

Maggie Smith – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Sally Field – Lincoln

Probables

Judi Dench – Skyfall

Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables

Jackie Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook

Long Shots

Frances McDormand – Promised Land

Having still not seen it and getting very anxious, I’m hearing a lot of buzz about Judi Dench in “Skyfall.” This is a thin category, and it’s very likely that Weaver will be out or she can even bump out her costar Maggie Smith from “Best Exotic.”

 

Directing

Front Runners

Ben Affleck – Argo

David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook

Steven Spielberg – Lincoln

Tom Hooper – Les Miserables

Ang Lee – Life of Pi

Probables

Robert Zemeckis – Flight

Paul Thomas Anderson – The Master

Michael Haneke – Amour

Kathryn Bigelow – Zero Dark Thirty

Wes Anderson – Moonrise Kingdom

Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild

Quentin Tarantino – Django Unchained

Gus Van Sant – Promised Land

Long Shots

Juan Antonio Bayona – The Impossible

David Chase – Not Fade Away

Dustin Hoffman – Quartet

Ben Lewin – The Sessions

Joe Wright – Anna Karenina

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