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No Country for Reluctant Oscar Bait: 6 Films On the Prowl for Gold

November 4, 2010

Natalie Portman in Darren Aronofsky's 'Black Swan'

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.

4. Inception

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.

26 Comments leave one →
  1. Regina B permalink
    November 5, 2010 1:54 am

    The movies I thought of as I watched the Black Swan trailer, in order:
    A Star Is Born
    Mommy Dearest
    The Fly

  2. Regina B permalink
    November 5, 2010 1:58 am

    Oh, I forgot about the dash of Single White Female squashed in between Showgirls and Mommy Dearest. I know the Venice Film Festival loved it, but Augh.

  3. November 5, 2010 2:20 am

    @Regina B – Yeah, I’m liking the visuals and Portman, but it seems as though Black Swan has the potential to be totally campy. I wonder if Mila Kunis’ Lily character and Portman’s character will bond over their past Doggie chow eating days.

  4. evmaroon permalink
    November 5, 2010 4:03 am

    You know Hollywood loves it’s prizefighter movies! I bet you’re right about that one, also. Care to take a stab at documentaries? My money’s on Babies.

  5. November 5, 2010 4:43 am

    “True Grit” probably wouldn’t even have been remembered except for the fact that it allowed the Academy to finally give John Wayne the Oscar he should have gotten for “Stagecoach.” Seriously, Glen Campbell acting can’t inspire anybody to do anything! So, I’m not really clear on why it’s getting a remake. Yeah, the Coens can do it all, and Jeff Bridges isn’t going to let his Academy Award gather any dust before hopping back in the saddle, but I just find it odd.

    Also odd was “Black Swan,” which really looks extremely creepy… and I agree it has some Showgirls camp qualities bleeding in. It’s not even on my radar, and that trailer only makes it less interesting to me, though it seems it does relate to “The Fighter!”

    We’ve talked about “For Colored Girls,” and I guess the only question now is how it’ll play, and will the Box Office be there. It seems like there’s a serious downgrade in all things minority right this minute, so that bears watching.

  6. November 5, 2010 5:34 am

    @NYCPenpusher – I think ‘For Colored Girls’ is probably going to be one or two nom film and that’s being generous. Kimberly Elise will be the stand out, which hopefully will lead to a quality role on a television series. I don’t think the film has been marketed well and the controversy of Perry’s involvement has dogged the film since it was first announced and it doesn’t seem that even Oprah can get women deeply inspired by the work to give Perry’s vision the benefit of the doubt.

    It might do okay the first weekend, but I don’t think the box office will be there, which means neither will the truckload of nominations.

  7. November 5, 2010 7:55 am

    @NYCPenpusher, I think the one thing you can count on when it comes to the Coens’ material is that there’s nothing you can count on. Anyway, I’m eagerly awaiting what promises to be a very Dude season.

  8. November 5, 2010 8:42 am

    I think For Colored Girls will land 1 or 2 acting noms, like you suggest — just enough so the Academy doesn’t look as racist, as well as enough to show up Tyler Perry who said at last year’s Oscars while announcing that it would be his only time on the stage ever. I can see members getting all haughty about that gauntlet and throwing copper his way to shut him up.

    That was pretty smart of Aronofsky to leave Winona Ryder off the billing and out of most of the trailer. It’s also funny that this is the second Showgirls-esque movie coming out this season, though I think Burlesque will take the camp award for sure.

  9. Regina B permalink
    November 5, 2010 10:37 am

    Plus, Black Swan is directed by the man who brought us The Movie That Shan’t Be Seen Twice… we all know he can bring the Creepy (@NYCPenpusher) in a UPS truck. It could be stunning, it could be hilarious, or it could be appalling.

  10. hsofia permalink
    November 5, 2010 12:16 pm

    Wow, I wouldn’t know about any of these except Colored Girls if it weren’t for IFMiB – y’all are my sole source for movie and tv news.

    I’ve never seen the original True Grit, but I enjoy westerns, so this will be on my list. Being a Bale-head from way back, this looks like a good vehicle for him; I like my Christian all noble and strapping, but he also plays a great weasel. I bet when he gets older he’ll play a lot more weasels.

    I honestly have no idea what to expect in For Colored Girls. It could be really good or it could just be atrocious. I don’t understand what Tyler Perry’s deal is, in general. I think this will be competently told, but what soul it will have … who knows.

    Leonardo DiCaprio has been impressing me since The Aviator. He was good even when he was on Growing Pains, but his reputation dropped in my eyes because of the overexposure after Titanic (which I saw three times in the theater). But he gets kudos from me for getting through his 20s without being arrested or overdosing. And I think he’s a good actor, but if he’s nominated for anything, I think it should be Shutter Island, which broke my heart (damn you, Dennis Lehane!) and was a more emotionally compelling story on the same theme. The advantage of Inception is that it had that three-named Joseph guy and Watanabe, who are both fun to watch.

    Black Swan looks whoa! creepy ass! This could be a huge hit among the teenage girl set. I mean, if I were still a teenager, I’d be all over that. It’s also got that French dude who looks like Jughead.

    The King’s Speech – Aww. It looks like a goodie. Plus it’s got Dumbledore and Guy Pearce! And Derek Jacobi, whom I believe to be the factory prototype for Kenneth Branagh, plus Meryl Streep’s long lost little sister, Jennifer Ehle. I like them all.

  11. hsofia permalink
    November 5, 2010 12:18 pm

    Hmm; the internets ate the front and end of two sentences. There was something in between True Grit and being a Bale-head, but you catch my drift. I need a preview feature.

  12. November 5, 2010 2:03 pm

    That was pretty smart of Aronofsky to leave Winona Ryder off the billing and out of most of the trailer. It’s also funny that this is the second Showgirls-esque movie coming out this season, though I think Burlesque will take the camp award for sure.

    And I love that Winona Ryder is in the Barbara Hershey role. Brilliant casting. And when I said, “De Palmalicious” I wasn’t being entirely praising. De Palma is one campy mofo. Hilariously.

    Black Swan looks whoa! creepy ass! This could be a huge hit among the teenage girl set. I mean, if I were still a teenager, I’d be all over that. It’s also got that French dude who looks like Jughead.

    hahaha. He does look like Jughead. But I love Vincent Cassel. He’s so hot!

  13. November 5, 2010 3:18 pm

    It’s also got that French dude who looks like Jughead.

    HAHAHAHA. oh man, now he’s ruined forever.

  14. November 5, 2010 3:29 pm

    Y’all better stop talking greasy about my sweet Vinnie!


  15. hsofia permalink
    November 5, 2010 10:40 pm

    I like him, but his sexiness belies his face, is all I’m saying.

  16. November 5, 2010 11:01 pm

    He’s totally funny looking. I think it was his dance/training scene in Ocean’s 12 that finally sold me on him. Plus, he must have it going on given he’s married to that pretty Monica Bellucci.


  17. November 5, 2010 11:07 pm

    You better work, Vincent!

  18. November 6, 2010 9:23 am

    I think he is sexy — creepy sexy. But I’ve been imprinted by his roles in Eastern Promises and that terrible movie Derailed. I forgot about the Ocean’s series!

  19. Sandra C. Muñoz permalink
    November 8, 2010 1:19 pm

    Derailed was good but I am an admittedly big fan of Jennifer Aniston. Please don’t judge me. She was funny on Friends and excellent in The Good Girl. No, seriously, please don’t judge me.

  20. November 8, 2010 2:03 pm

    HAH!! I would not call myself a big fan of hers, but I did enjoy her in The Good Girl and Friends with Money and I don’t automatically write off a movie because she’s in it. I would say I’m a huge fan of Clive Owen though. But that movie was just, ugh. I ended up putting on subtitles and watching it at double speed, because I was invested enough to see how they would wrap the mess up, but irritated at myself for doing so.

  21. November 8, 2010 3:02 pm

    Cannot stand J. Aniston, but loved, LOVED LOVED her in The Good Girl, The Object of My Affection and She’s the One.

  22. November 8, 2010 3:03 pm

    LOL, and totally sit down to watch Picture Perfect whenever it shows up on TV.

  23. November 8, 2010 4:04 pm

    oh! I’ve seen that one too. yes, it exceeded my (low) expectations.

  24. November 8, 2010 4:14 pm

    my friend Randy told me a story of going to the grocery store shortly after moving to LA and seeing a woman who looked familiar and after passing her in the aisle a second time, asked, “did we go to school together?” she rolled her eyes, scoffed and said “THAT’s a new one” then stormed off. he was like, wow, what a jerk. an hour later while driving home he realized it was Jennifer Anniston.

  25. November 8, 2010 6:31 pm

    HAHAHA. That totally sounds like her!

  26. hsofia permalink
    November 9, 2010 11:59 am

    My favorite Jennifer Aniston role was when she played Jim Carrey’s wife (?) in “Liar, Liar.” One of her lines in that movie had me laughing for (literally) 15 minutes. I couldn’t stop. She has pretty good comedic timing; in “Friends” – by the end she was one of the best ones in that regard (if you disregard the stupid storylines).

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