Two days ago MCN’s David Poland posted his first “Blankety-blank Weeks To Oscar” piece for the 2016-17 award season.
His gut suspicion is that only three films — Nate Parker‘s The Birth of a Nation, Ang Lee‘s Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk and Denzel Washington‘s Fences — are “lock-ish” for a Best Picture nomination. I’m not disagreeing, but how Poland can half-suggest that Kenneth Lonergan‘s Manchester By The Sea is a “could be” is…well, quizzical. Did he not see it in Sundance?
Poland’s temporary, alphabetical top ten along with my parenthetical comments:
1. Gavin O’Connor‘s The Accountant (HE comment: An ultra-violent programmer, I’m told, with a side serving of autism — an aggressively smart genre film, but no more than that);
2. Robert Zemeckis‘s Allied (HE comment: It might amount to something exceptional but the portrait stills (and portrait stills, of course, mean absolutely nothing) suggest a schmaltzy approach — I’d like to see something that feels lean, straight and gloss-free like Fred Zinneman‘s The Day of the Jackal but I have doubts — the ungenuine, Jiminy Cricket tone that Zemeckis used for The Walk scared me);
3. Ang Lee‘s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (HE comment: Quite possibly a BP contender);
4. Nate Parker‘s The Birth of a Nation (HE comment: Likely BP nom, no win);
5. Ben Younger‘s Bleed For This (HE comment: Another overcoming-great-adversity boxing drama — decent or better-than-decent reviews, decent business, no nommy);
6. Denzel Washington‘s Fences (HE comment: Very likely BP nom);
7. John Lee Hancock‘s The Founder (HE comment: Robert Siegel‘s script is pretty good, but a film that asks an audience to respect and celebrate a scheming wolf in a chicken coop is not likely to inspire Best Picture swooning — although Michael Keaton could pop through);
8. Damian Chazelle‘s La-La Land (HE comment: Good reviving of spirit of ’50s MGM musicals, I’m hearing, but try as they do Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone don’t quite “bring it” like Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse).
9. Kenneth Lonergan‘s Manchester By The Sea (HE comment: “[An] extraordinary swirl of love, anger, tenderness and brittle humor…a beautifully textured, richly enveloping drama about how a death in the family forces a small-town New Englander to confront a past tragedy anew.” — L.A. Times critic Justin Chang.)
10. Barry Jenkins‘ Moonlight (HE comment: 1980s Miami, drugs, a guy named Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) coping with turbulent home life + emerging gay sexuality. Sounds Spirit Awardsy.)
Nobody knows zip about Martin Scorsese‘s Silence, but (I know I’ve mentioned this 11 or 12 times now) its expected to be a bit of a rough sit in terms of subject matter.
I’m hearing that Tom Ford‘s Nocturnal Animals is diverting, intriguing, not bad, interesting, well acted, better than pretty good, etc.
I’ve now heard from two guys who’ve seen Warren Beatty‘s Rules Don’t Apply. Their reactions have been more positive than negative, but they’re mixed. Alden Ehrenreich, Lily Collins and costar Annette Bening give thumbs-up performances. That’s all I’m going to share.
Never bet on a September release, says Poland, so we should probably forget about Sully, The Light Between Oceans, Snowden, Deepwater Horizon, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, The Magnificent Seven, The Dressmaker, etc.
Forget Hail, Caesar! for anything except costume and producton design…if that.
The sci-fi elements in Arrival and Passengers “are a bit scary, Oscarwise,” Poland says. I don’t know about Arrival, but there’s a plot element in Passengers (or at least in the script that I read) that is a hugely problematic time bomb.
The Girl On The Train is not Gone Girl, I’m told, in part because Tate Taylor is not David Fincher. Commercial but a total dismissal on the Best Picture front.
I don’t know anything at all about David Frankel‘s Collateral Beauty. Apparently it’s another coping-with-tragedy, grief-recovery thing, and I have to tell you I’m getting really, really sick of these films.
I’d love Patriot’s Day to be more than a Peter Berg thriller about the Boston Marathon bombing, but who knows? Be honest — do you think Berg can transcend or overcome his usual instincts?
Forget Garth Davis‘s Lion, I’m told.