Suddenly there’s a consensus that year-end contenders are weak, weak, weak all over. It does kinda seem that way. I’m not just saying that because the more I hear about the supposed heavyweights coming out in December, the less current they seem to have. Warner Bros. managed to keep people from seeing The Departed so there was no advance word, but when a film is really exceptional and a couple of months away the word will usually seep out. A hint or two, minor leakage…something.
I realize studio p.r. people don’t want anyone saying anything about their Decem- ber films — too damn early — but people are talking anyway. Talking by not talking, I mean. Or by giving you a look at a party, or saying something incon- clusive or abruptly changing the subject. Dreamgirls doesn’t have to worry about anything, and I’m not saying German/Shepherd, Blood Diamond and The Pursuit of Happyness necessarily need to either. I’m just saying there’s beaucoup silence out there.
The perception of weakness makes it all the more likely that The Departed will end up as a Best Picture contender. (In a stronger year it could wind up being dismis- sed as merely a well-made crime film — the fact of it being an exceptionally well-made crime film is why I’m feeling more and more that it has Oscar strength.)
It’s also a welcome thing that Little Miss Sunshine, easily one of the year’s finest no matter what the mainstream winds up deciding, will start picking up renewed heat. This is Pete Hammond ‘s view, at least, in his latest Hollywood Wiretap column.
And I’m amused by the take-it-or-leave-it bluntness of this statement from David Poland ‘s latest Oscar prediction column, to wit: Bill Condon‘s Dreamgirls “is clearly the Best Picture frontunner now that Flags of our Fathers [has] stumbled on exposure to the media (even if the trades and others are still barking up that flagpole).”