I just finished watching an Oscar handicap discussion between Deadline‘s Pete Hammond, Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson, Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neill and Variety‘s Tim Gray.
I watched this discussion for one reason — to see what these four savvy insiders would say about the effect of the National Society of Film Critics condemning Variety for the Promising Young Woman apology and to what extent this influences Carey Mulligan‘s bid for a Best Actress Oscar. (I think she’s locked in all the more.) What did these four have to say about this hot-button issue? Nothing — they completely ignored it.
What I mostly got out of the back-and-forth was a refreshed Best Picture reading — i.e., Nomadland might be slowing down or even slipping while Trial of the Chicago 7 and Minari might be gaining ground. Is this true? You tell me.
Anne Thompson (Indiewire): “Nomadland is an anomalous movie, a road movie, a hybrid in which [many of] the crafts are not in there…but it’s still the strongest Best Picture contender…they love this movie. Chicago 7 is very very strong [and] a possibility…I’m not saying it will but it could take over Nomadland. Minari is moving up, totally surging…it is so strong [3 Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, 10 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards nominations, 6 Independent Spirit Award nominations + the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film]. One Night in Miami is steady as they go, and Ma Rainey too. Mank is going to be like The Irishman — a lot of nominations and we’ll see what it actually wins. Promising Young Woman is surging too.”
HE reply: No mention of Sound of Metal and Da 5 Bloods? Anne knows that Ma Rainey and One Night in Miami are mezzo-mezzo and not really going anywhere. She knows this, and yet she gives them the old college cheer. I too am sensing a slight slowing in the Nomadland force flow. It may be holding but it’s not building.
Tom O’Neill (Gold Derby) “Promising Young Woman is popping up in all kinds of places for Best Picture, [and this is] surprising us so we have to take it seriously here. It’s surging every which way.”
HE reply: “When Tom says he and his Gold Derby colleagues are surprised by the surge of Promising Young Womwn, he means that by his own sights he wouldn’t be picking it as a possible serious Best Picture contender.
Pete Hammond (Deadline): “Well, something’s gonna win. My problem with all of this…prognosticating in this very weird season and not even quite a month away from the nominations…a lot of Academy members just haven’t seen this stuff. One person said they should send a Roku box or an Apple TV device to everyone because a lot her friends are watching these movies on their computers. I’m not sure that Nomadland is a computer movie [as] it’s very deliberately paced and you have to stay with it and get enveloped by that kind of a film. A critics favorite definitely, that can help it along but not always. I think The Trial of Chicago 7 has all the [classic] ingredients that make for a Best Picture winner, particularly when we watch the news and see what’s going on and how this movie is so prescient right now. Academy members like to be on top of something important….whether that [points to] Chicago 7 or Frances McDormand stacking boxes at Amazon…I don’t know. I do think that Minari with the wind at its back from the Parasite win last year. Minari…you saw the SAG nominations and all the nominations from the Critics Choice awards…that might be the consensus choice…it gets a good amount of number one votes but it gets a whole ot numbers twos. I loved Promising Young Woman personally….I think it’s a great movie. Mank may not be a #1 choice. I just talked to an Academy member…we disagree on Mank, he said. ‘You don’t like it?’ Yeah…you don’t? ‘Not really.'”
HE reply: Pete saying that “something’s gonna win” means he’s not feeling great surges of enthusiasm anywhere, about anything.
Timothy Gray (Variety): “The below-the-line people will vote for Mank and Trial of the Chicago 7. Sacha Baron Cohen seems like a front-runner.”
Hammond: “Some people think Nomadland is a great immersive movie, and another person I spoke to was looking at his watch half the time.”
O’Neill: “Let’s discuss the speculation about Chadwick Boseman having this wrapped up. Peter Finch and Heath Ledger are the exceptions to the role. I don’t think this is a lock at all for Boseman. On the other hand he’s ahead among Gold Derby critics.”
Hammond: “Boseman might get two nominations and that’s never happened. They might want to go with Anthony Hopkins for Best Actor and Chadwick for Best Supporting. I don’t know that Da 5 Bloods has [sufficient] levels of strength among Academy voters.”
Gray: “One Academy member told me ‘all due respect but he’s dead and doesn’t need it…I’m going to vote for someone who’s still with us.'”
Thompson: “People do like The Father.”
O’Neill: I think we started off with the assumption that Frances McDormand was ahead for Best Actress, and then along came Viola Davis. And Carey Mulligan is just shooting up that ladder like anything. I donlt know about Portrait of a Woman’s Vanessa Kirby.”
Thompson: “She’s in. There are four of them — Davis, Kirby, Mulligan and McDormand. They’re all in.”
Hammond: “Kirby’s is a very actressy performance. I still hold out hope that Sophia Loren is going to be nominated. I don’t think Zendaya has a chance. That movie is very divisive. I would love to see Michelle Pfeiffer get in, but I’m not sure people are seeing [French Kiss]. Kate Winslet has done a lot of campaigning, and it’s added up to nothing so far. Plus I don’t think they’ve seen the movie. The reality of the world is that Netflix gives you an advantage. To pretend you’re investing in theatres, but unless you’re playing the game the way you need to this year, you’re out of luck.
Thompson: “Everybody knows its Chloe Zhao for Best Director, and it’s not going to be anyone else. On The Rocks‘ Bill Murray is falling, and Sound of Metal‘s Paul Raci might slip in.”