Friday, December 30, 2011

85th Oscar Best Picture Updates (2012-2013 Awards Season) (12/30/11)

Every other blog on the planet is doing a list of their top ten films of the year, but since my year won’t finish until February (honestly, what’s up with these limited releases?), and since I’m famous for looking into my crystal ball anyway, I’ve decided that my New Year’s present to all of you will be to update my best picture predictions for NEXT YEAR’s Oscar race. Some of these films are just going into production, but we are already beginning to see which ones are early year releases, and which ones have staked out November or December dates in preparation for their Oscar glory. We’ve also gotten some of the entries for the Berlin and Sundance Film Festivals, so I have added a few of those that looked interesting based upon their descriptions.

Here are today’s rankings for the 85th Oscar Best Picture race (2012-2013 Awards Season), with previous ranking shown in parenthesis after each entry. And Happy New Year!

1. Lincoln (Predicted Winner) (previous rank 1)
2. The Master (New)
3. The Dark Knight Rises (previous rank 2)
4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (previous rank 5)
5. Django Unchained (New)
6. Life Of Pi (previous rank 7)
7. Les Miserables (previously listed in 86th Oscar race, rank 14)
8. Brave (previous rank 41)
9. Gravity (New)

10. Cloud Atlas (previous rank 19)

11. The Great Gatsby (previous rank 16)
12. Anna Karenina (previous rank 14)
13. Hyde Park On Hudson (previous rank 29)
14. Inside Llewyn Davis (New)
15. Twelve Years A Slave (previously listed in 87th Oscar race, rank 13)
16. The Silver Linings Playbook (previously listed in 86th Oscar race, rank 39)
17. Hands Of Stone (previous rank 8)
18. Argo (New)
19. Cosmopolis (previous rank 30)
20. Lay The Favorite (New)
21. Great Expectations (New)
22. Dali (previous rank 25)
23. Macbett: The Caribbean Macbeth (previous rank 6)
24. The Grandmasters (previous rank 9)
25. Wettest County (previous rank 18)
26. On The Road (previously listed in 84th Oscar race, rank 25)
27. Prometheus (previous rank 46)
28. Moonrise Kingdom (previous rank 32)
29. The Danish Girl (previous rank 10)
30. Great Hope Springs (previous rank 15)

31. The Paperboy (New)
32. Gangster Squad (New)
33. Savages (previous rank 33)
34. The Place Beyond The Pines (previously listed in 86th Oscar race, rank 1)
35. World War Z (New)
36. Kill Bin Laden (Untitled International Thriller) (New)
37. Nero Fiddled (previous rank 44)
38. Wuthering Heights (previously listed in 84th Oscar race, rank 42)
39. The Burial (Untitled Terrence Malick Project) (New)
40. Midnight’s Children (New)
41. Dark Shadows (New)
42. Only God Forgives (New)
43. The Man From UNCLE (New)
44. Flight (previously listed in 87th Oscar race, rank 41)
45. The Bell Jar (previous rank 17)
46. Brothers In Arms (previous rank 28)
47. The Words (New)
48. The Girl (previous rank 43)
49. Hemingway & Fuentes (New)
50. What Maisie Knew (New)

Just missing the cut: Cogan’s Trade, Gambit, Low Life, The Absinthe Drinkers, Being Flynn, The Third Act, Quartet, Savannah, My Wild Life, Darling Companion, The Odd Life Of Timothy Green, 47 Ronin, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, The Dictator.

As always, check the Tracker Pages in the upper right hand corner of this blog for the most updated predictions in all categories!
See predictions for other categories at the 85th Oscars HERE.
Switch to another year: 84th,  85th,  86th,  87th,  88th,  89th  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

LAMB Acting School 101: Don Cheadle

Each month, The LAMB has a series where bloggers get together to write reviews of a particular actor’s work. Here at Never Too Early Movie Predictions, I look forward instead of backward, so I thought it might be fun to look ahead at what the actor of the month has coming up on his calendar for the next several years.

This month’s actor is Don Cheadle. Cheadle has been nominated for an Oscar for his leading role in Hotel Rwanda, and has been lauded for his supporting roles in films that have caught Oscar’s attention (Crash, Traffic), and others that have been box office successes (Iron Man, the Ocean’s trilogy).

Cheadle was recently nominated for a Black Reel award for his supporting role in The Guard, while his co-star Brendan Gleeson picked up a Golden Globe nomination for best comedic actor. The film is a comedy about an Irish policeman and an FBI agent working to bust a drug circle.

Flight will be his next film. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, it will tell the story of an airline pilot (Denzel Washington) who heroically lands a failing airplane, only to be later accused of causing the troubles through his drinking. In addition to Cheadle and Washington, the film stars John Goodman, Melissa Leo and Kelly Reilly.

House Of Lies is a Showtime series which will premiere in 2012. Cheadle stars as management consultant in this comedic look at the lengths that corporate America goes to while screwing the rest of us over.

In Iron Man 3, Cheadle will reprise his role as Robert Downey Jr.’s sidekick, War Machine. Both of the previous films in this franchise received Oscar nominations for Visual Effects, with the first one also receiving a Sound Editing nod. No word yet on whether the film will explain where War Machine was while Iron Man ran off to fight with The Avengers, although there has been some talk of a War Machine Spinoff, so maybe that can explain it.

A Miles Davis Biopic may also be on the way, with Cheadle directing and playing the title character. The film will take place over a day and a half of Davis’ life (which usually promises to be more interesting than those sprawling life-long tales) and will feature a new score by Herbie Hancock (allowing for some potential music awards that aren’t possible when you simply recycle a musician’s songs in their biopics). Personally, I think that this could easily be Cheadle’s ticket back to the Kodak Theater.

In Marching Powder, Cheadle will play Thomas McFadden, a British drug dealer doing time inside a Bolivian prison, who ends up giving tours to tourists. Based upon the book by Rusty Young, the film is being written and directed by Jose Padilha, the Brazilian filmmaker famous for the Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite) movies, and produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company.

Finally, Cheadle is also producing, but not starring in, a biopic of Fritz Pollard, the first African-American to play football in the NFL (and later, the first African-American to coach an NFL team).

So readers, do you think that any of these films have what it takes to make it into future Oscar races? Let me know in the comments!

You can keep track of Don Cheadle’s Oscar chances for each of these projects on my Lead And Supporting Actor page.
Read what my fellow LAMBS have written about Don Cheadle HERE.
Search for other actors featured in LAMB Acting School 101 HERE.
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Monday, December 26, 2011

What I Saw: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

What I Saw:   The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Really? This is the film that fanboys have been dying to see? Fincher fanboys, Larsson fanboys, Lisbeth fanboys, Mara fanboys and possibly some Craig/Blomqvist fangirls too, have hyped this movie all year long, insisting that it was going to be David Fincher’s glorious response to his Social Network loss, and Rooney Mara’s ticket to the Kodak theater.

I’ll grant you that the opening sequence was fast paced like the first trailer, and that Lisbeth gets a few well-placed catchphrases throughout the film. I can even appreciate the artistry of the costumes and art direction which helped to set the mood of the sixties flashbacks, or the skill evident in the cinematography, editing and score. But the film didn’t effectively utilize these technical achievements to further the story, nor did they provide enough atmosphere to keep me engaged. If anything, they felt like a distraction and contributed to my lack of interest. I found that I didn’t care about any of the characters, whether heroes, villains or victims, and the investigative techniques felt stale and routine. Despite its two and a half hour running time, the movie lacked a compelling sense of mystery, and then rushed through the resolution scenes involving Harriet, Wennerstrom and Anita.

So have at it fanboys and fangirls: Keep talking about the relationship to the books, or comparing this remake to the Swedish original. Debate all you want about whether Noomi Rapace or Rooney Mara is more beautiful or badass or brutal. Keep telling me that the second and third installments of the series are where all the action is. Because each time you do, it only makes me wonder why this version turned out to be such a boring film.

Oscar Chances:

I had been suspicious enough of the fanboy chatter to keep TGWTDT out of my nominee lists for the major categories, but admit that I fell victim to it enough to keep Fincher and Mara within striking ground. It’s always possible that the Academy’s technical branch will see something that I didn’t, but at this point I think that Reznor and Ross’ score is the only serious contender for a nomination.

Original Score: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (currently ranked 4)
Sound Mixing (currently ranked 2, will drop in next predictions)
Film Editing: Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall (currently ranked 5, likely to drop in next predictions)
Adapted Screenplay: Steven Zaillian (currently ranked 7)
Best Director: David Fincher (currently ranked 7, will drop in next predictions
Cinematography: Jeff Cronenworth (currently ranked 7)
Lead Actress: Rooney Mara (currently ranked 8. Holding steady due to Golden Globes nomination)
Makeup (currently ranked 11, likely to drop in next predictions)
Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt and K.C. Fox (currently ranked 12)
Best Picture (currently ranked 13, will drop in next predictions)
Sound Editing (currently ranked 20)
Costume Design: Trish Summerville (currently ranked 22)
Lead Actor: Daniel Craig (currently ranked 39)

As always, check the Tracker Pages in the upper right hand corner of this blog for the most updated predictions in all categories!

My Lamb Score: 1 1/2 out of 5 Lambs
What is a lamb score? Click HERE to learn more.
Read more of my reviews HERE.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

84th Oscar Lead Actress Updates (2011-2012 Awards Season) (12/24/11)

Here are today’s rankings for the 84th Oscar Lead Actress race, with previous rankings shown in parenthesis after each entry.

The top of this category is looking more and more set, with Viola Davis, Michelle Williams and Meryl Streep practically guaranteed to receive nominations, and Glenn Close and Tilda Swinton both engaging in aggressive campaigns that I predict will pay off. As we go further down the list, I start to wonder about potential surprises either from the world of independent cinema, or from last minute changes in category placement. Will voters place Berenice Bejo, Carey Mulligan (twice!), Jodie Foster, or Kate Winslet into the lead category despite the fact that their studios are campaigning them as supporting? And will they really go with a full list of past nominees, something that hasn’t happened since 1994?

1. Viola Davis in The Help (Predicted Winner) (previous rank 1)
2. Michelle Williams in My Week With Marilyn (previous rank 4)
3. Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs (previous rank 3)
4. Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady (previous rank 2)
5. Tilda Swinton in We Need To Talk About Kevin (previous rank 7)

6. Charlize Theron in Young Adult (previous rank 8)
7. Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene (previous rank 5)
8. Rooney Mara in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (previous rank 9)
9. Felicity Jones in Like Crazy (previous rank 10)
10. Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia (previous rank 12)
11. Adepero Oduye in Pariah (previous rank 14)
12. Michelle Yeoh in The Lady (previous rank 6)
13. Berenice Bejo in The Artist (previous rank 34)
14. Keira Knightley in A Dangerous Method (previous rank 11)
15. Jodie Foster in Carnage (previous rank 13)
16. Olivia Colman in Tyrannosaur (previous rank 18)
17. Brit Marling in Another Earth (New)
18. Anna Paquin in Margaret (previously ranked 21)
19. Naomi Harris in The First Grader (New)
20. Elena Anaya in The Skin I Live In (La Piel Que Habito) (previous rank 21)
21. Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids (previous rank 16)
22. Rachel Weisz in The Whistleblower (previous rank 22)
23. Saoirse Ronan in Hanna (previous rank 41)
24. Kate Winslet in Carnage (previous rank 19)
25. Vera Farmiga in Higher Ground (previous rank 23)

26. Mia Wasikowska in Jane Eyre (previous rank 25)
27. Kristin Scott Thomas in Sarah’s Key (previous rank 39)
28. Juliette Binoche in Certified Copy (previous rank 24)
29. Emma Stone in The Help (previous rank 17)
30. Ellen Barkin in Another Happy Day (New)
31. Anne Hathaway in One Day (previous rank 30)
32. Charlotte Gainsbourg in Melancholia (previous rank 33)
33. Zana Marjanovic in In The Land Of Blood And Honey (previous rank 20)
34. Maria Bello in Beautiful Boy (previous rank 45)
35. Carey Mulligan in Shame (previously listed in supporting, rank 7)
36. Abbie Cornish in W.E. (New)
37. Robin Wright in The Conspirator (previous rank 44)
38. Rachel McAdams in Midnight In Paris (previous rank 42)
39. Carey Mulligan in Drive (previously listed in supporting, rank 32)
40. Michelle Williams in Meek’s Cutoff (previous rank 37)
41. Julianne Moore in Crazy Stupid Love (previous rank 36)
42. Catherine Deneuve in Potiche (previously ranked 50)
43. Zoe Saldana in Colombiana (previously ranked 27)
44. Kate Winslet in Contagion (previously listed in supporting, rank 48)
45. Gianna Jun (Jun Ji-Hyun) in Snow Flower And The Secret Fan (previous rank 26)
46. Bing Bing Li in Snow Flower And The Secret Fan (previous rank 29)
47. Reese Witherspoon in Water For Elephants (previously ranked 34)
48. Angela Bassett in Jumping The Broom (previously ranked 50)
49. Jessica Chastain in The Debt (previous rank 38)
50. Amy Adams in The Muppets (New)

As always, check the Tracker Pages in the upper right hand corner of this blog for the most updated predictions in all categories!
See Lead Actress predictions for other years HERE.
Or check out the Lead Actor, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress predictions.
See predictions for other categories at the 84th Oscars HERE.
Switch to another year: 84th,  85th,  86th,  87th,  88th,  89th