THB #244: 20 (Long) Weeks To Oscar
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This is the moment before things really start revving up for Oscar. But I don’t remember the village being any quieter at the end of October than it is right now… even in the Oscar Season of the Woman™
We’re 3 weeks from The Governors Awards and The Deadline Contenders marketing event. And it feels almost as though everyone is waiting for that week (November 18-21) to bring their wares to the Oscar market. But the only sure winners in that weekend are the Governors Awards winners (Peter Weir, Diane Warren, Euzhan Palcy and Michael J. Fox this year… since you didn’t know) and Deadline’s bottom line.
The only real action seems to be around movies and performances that were not really expected to be in play this season. AppleTV+’s Causeway, which has a performance by Brian Tyree Henry that could make a serious play in the soft Supporting Actor category.
Jennifer Lawrence, in Causeway, is in the “perfect performance, but will it excite people?” category of Danielle Deadwyler in Till, Nina Hoss in TÁR, and it looks like Carey Mulligan in She Said. Ethan Hawke is kinda there in Raymond & Ray. And I wonder if Tom Hanks will be there in A Man Called Otto. It’s a weird category and I don’t really remember it being so loaded in the past. There is usually something you can tag as “the problem.” But these are all consummate performers who are well liked giving letter-perfect performances.
The category really came to me with Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain in Scenes From A Marriage. In that case, they were both exactly what they were trying to be… couldn’t be any better. But somehow, the show wasn’t magic. It wasn’t the “showy performance in the bad show” thing. Actresses have been taking home Oscars for that for years. It just didn’t quite fit right… a feeling beyond rationalization (or my affection for both actors).
Jennifer is really quite good in Causeway. It is a way in which we have never seen her before. I don’t think she smiles for the first hour or longer. She is not the woman being kept down and then overcoming against the odds. She is a quiet, challenged person working hard to get back to the base level of being herself. That being the case, Brian Tyree Henry gets to carry the expressive energy in the film and he is magnificent, finding unexpected moments in subtle, fascinating ways.
Netflix is revving the engines hard for Eddie Redmayne in The Good Nurse. Eddie is a wonderful person and a great actor. The response to the movie is pretty meh. So where do you go with that? He will likely outcampaign everyone competing for Supporting Actor except maybe Ke Huy Quan. Will that turn the trick? (What award will Santa Barbara make up for him?)
The only guild screenings for Glass Onion, Netflix’s top hope for Best Picture, are on November 3 in Charlottesville, Virginia and 2 days before the 1 week theatrical, November 21 in San Francisco. White Noise isn’t on the guild schedule for Los Angeles through mid-November at all, full stop (theaters Nov 25, Netflix Dec 30).
AFI Fest’s 4-day and Opening Night schedule, November 2 - 6, rolls out Netflix’s Bardo, Pinocchio, Sony Classics’ The Son and Living, and Universal’s She Said then The Fabelmans as closing night.
Where’s A24 hiding The Whale? At festival after festival… but not in L.A. The film gets released into theaters on December 9.
It’s odd, but in 15 days, there will only be two films that is expected to seriously contend for Best Picture, Babylon and Avatar: The Way of Water, that will not have been made widely accessible. I don’t know if Disney is planning on screening Avatar in time for NY Film Critics Circle (Dec 2), etc. But they can survive that. Paramount’s Babylon, much less so. The Golden Payoffs nominate on December 12, so that is an easier get. But Babylon is going to need critics love and there is every reason to think they may get some. But they have to show the movie.
God… this feels like a bunch of bookkeeping, no?
I am still excited about seeing the movies I haven’t seen. I want the highly rated ones to be better than I expect and the poorly rated ones to be great and underappreciated by the heathen that have buzzed about them.
But, somehow, this thing needs to intensify. If it feels like it’s bordering on boring right now, imagine what 4 months of waiting for Oscar will be like.
I’m watching a bunch of very interesting documentaries these days, in anticipation of DOC NYC, an event I love, but am not going to attend this year as it requires my physical presence for the first time since COVID. More to come on those films.
In the meantime, I think I will go see The Banshees of Inisherin again in a movie theater… to cheer me up. (Maybe A24 should send Brendan Gleeson some Hot Dog Fingers.)