No Country for Reluctant Oscar Bait: 6 Films On the Prowl for Gold
Moviegoers, weary from a disappointing summer of bland blockbusters and bored with the cookie cutter slasher flicks populating the latter half of October can finally exhale; Oscar-bait season is upon us. Here are six flicks that are coming out swinging.
1. True Grit
Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld – December
The combination of The Coens’, a dusty landscape and Josh Brolin yielded Oscar gold in 2008 so it makes sense to add another winning element – Jeff Bridges – to the already established successful mix. Remakes are a tricky proposition, particularly when you’re messing around with what most would agree is a classic. That said, by the time the Oscars are handed out next February we’ll probably all be sporting eye patches and wearing out this season’s version of “Friendo”.
2. The Fighter
Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale – December
Christian Bale’s preternatural command of accents and dialects has never really impressed the Academy, but paired with perpetually Oscarless Mark Wahlberg and a Rockylicious story The Fighter might be a knockout on Oscar night or at least a contender that goes the distance. Okay, I’ll give that rest.
3. For Colored Girls
Thandie Newton, Loretta Devine, Janet Jacket, Kimberly Elise, Whoopi Goldberg, Kerry Washington, Phylicia Rashad – November
A lot of early Oscar buzz is split between this film and Black Swan, which is exciting since both films concern themselves with women’s lives – albeit from different perspectives (and in the case of Black Swan is probably being generous) – and while For Colored Girls will probably nab a nomination or two (probably for Kimberly Elise’s performance) much of the Oscar discourse will unfortunately be focused on whether or not the film can get butts into the theater and how it stacks up to both its source material and last year’s put-upon black people Oscar bait film Precious.
Leonard DiCaprio, Ken Wantanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ellen Page
Overrated as I feel Inception is I will be disappoint if DiCaprio and Wantanbe aren’t rewarded with acting nods for their delicious performances. With ten best picture nominees and that instant runoff foolishness, Inception could stun everyone and walk away with Best Picture, which would render Nolan’s fanboys completely insufferable.
5. Black Swan
Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis Vincent Cassel
With a host of directors clamoring to be the next “De Palma” Darren Aronofsky has quietly claimed heir to that throne. Based on the trailer, the creepy, sexy psychological thriller smells like Sisters meets Basic Instinct meets Center Stage. We all know the real reason there’s so much buzz on this damn film and that’s cool. Since the Venice Film Festival wonks have been calling the Best Actress race for Natalie Portman and telling everyone else – particularly Annette Bening – to go on home. Now there is precedent for this sort of role earning an actress an Oscar nod – I see you, Glenn Close – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. In most cases the winning best Actress performance requires the character to be put upon, based on a real person, “de-pretty’d”, scrappy or dead by the time the end credits roll. Preferably all of the above if it’s not too much trouble.
6. The King’s Speech
Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush
Doesn’t the Oscars just love itself a big, stuffy British drama, populated with big, stuffy British thespians? Geoffrey Rush, who has turned into a sublime character actor, “shines” (in what little I’ve seen of his performance) and probably is a lock for a best supporting nod. Colin Firth was shut out of last year’s best actor race by The Dude. I smell a rematch! Perhaps Mark Darcy will pull a Rocky II on Bridges.