Monday, 21 September 2009

The New Contenders

Out of Toronto we always get a slew of new acting contenders who enter the Oscar race. Some are actually serious threats, while others, brilliant though they may be, are usually wishful thinking.

It is time to weed out the serious contenders from the not so much.

When Rob Nelson on Variety opened his review for Don Roos ‘Love and Other Impossible Pursuits with; “Natalie Portman delivers an utterly fearless performance” you take notice, especially when The Hollywood Reporter agrees.
Other have not liked the unsympathetic character, instead giving acting kudos to Roos regular Lisa Kudrow.
Portman is a previous nominee which helps, but her character is not likeable which hurts. Unlikable roles do not win Oscars, you either have to be a bad but saved, good, or a villain.
As for Kudrow, if they didn’t nominate her for her brilliant performance in Roos ‘The Opposite of Sex’ then I doubt they will for this

Never rule out Ed Norton, right? Well wrong, especially of late. The Academy seem to have turned their nose up at the actor. In ‘Leaves of Grass’ (a horrible title) he plays twins and is supposed to save the film. His performance alone seemed to keep reviewer after reviewer from walking out, falling asleep or starting to knit.
Can a dual role in a not so great film actually be considered for a nomination?
Well it has been 10 years since his last one, despite some very award worthy performances.

Julianne Moore needs to win an Oscar. She is apparently back to her best in Atom Egoyans ‘Chloe’ where she plays a woman suspicious of her husbands fidelity. However people going in drawn by the lure of Egoyan and Moores names, left extremely impressed by the performance of Amanda Seyfried’s call girl. The Academy love their whores.
The reviews of the film were not enough to push it into the years best, but it could have luck elsewhere.

Rodrigo Garcia wrote and directed ‘Mother and Child’ which has gotten very favourable reviews. Most of the reviews are singling out Annette Bening in the lead role with others supporting Naomi Watts steely turn. Then there is Samuel L Jackson who is getting praise for his unprecedented restraint.

If Bening makes it in, then we could face another re-match with Hilary Swank (please God no re: Swank).
Steely does not usually win awards, unless there is an emotional turn around, so Watts looks like a long shot.
Jackson will need major critical boost to make people forget the last 15 years of his various extreme performances.

Jared Leto – ‘Mr. Nobody’ yep, you heard me correct. Apparently he shows off his acting talent and makes the future scenes soar . However others were not so taken with him or the film

Neil Jordan goes into real lyrical form with his Colin Farrell starrer ‘Ondine’. While the film is gathering reviews more of the ‘sweet and nice’ side of favourable, Farrell is getting very good reviews. This is probably not the film to bring him to the Academy, but it is a step in the right direction.

‘Get Low’ sees three giants on the screen. Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray are all getting great notices, but it is Duvall who is hogging most of the praise. When Duvall gets praise, watch out, the race can easily get shaken up. Murray is getting some very good notices as well, as is Spacek. The film needs to be seriously loved for it to garner 2 or more acting nominations though. Also I am not sure if it even has a distributor yet.

Michael Douglas’s performance in ‘Solitary Man’ has gotten people saying it is his best performance in years. The whole cast is supposed to be great, but Douglas is front and centre.
The problem is, aside from winning an Oscar for ‘Wall Street’ over 20 years ago, Douglas has never been nominated again. He has come close, but there was no cigar. This role, of a man going through a late life crisis while disappointing those he loves should do well with critics, but how will the various Awards bodies react? Men can do unlikeable more so than women can.

Clive Owen has always been on my radar for ‘The Boys are Back’. The response to the film was positive with most people singling out his sensitive portrayal of a newly widowed father raising his boys. It should pull at heart strings, but do the Academy really like their men sensitive?

‘A Serious Man’ has gotten to Coen Brothers some of the best reviews for a comedy file. A lot of the credit goes to Michael Stuhlbarg, the unknown actor who is getting best in show notices. Unknown seems to work better for women however.

Best of getting a nomination

Lead Actor: Robert Duvall, Clive Owen, Michael Douglas
Supporting Actor: Bill Murray
Lead Actress: Annette Bening, Natalie Portman
Supporting Actress: Amanda Seyfried

What do you think?

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