Thursday, June 20, 2024

Oscar Buzz: What the Voters, Not the Prognosticators, Are Saying


I’ve spent the weekend amidst Oscar voters. They are everywhere, and they know everything. Forget the prognosticators who rate each movie’s chances based on critics’ perceptions. It’s all baloney. That’s how two years ago “The Social Network” seemed like the winner, when the ground game was being played by “The King’s Speech.” All the seers were wrong, wrong, wrong.

Between the Paramount Christmas party on Friday night, the Governor’s Ball last night, and a private pizza and screening party tonight for a non Oscar movie, “Killing them Softly,” I’ve heard everyone express an opinion.

Based on chatter alone, Daniel Day-Lewis has won Best Actor as “Lincoln.” There are those who think Hugh Jackman has a shot, and not enough people have seen “Les Miz” yet. But DDL is a passionate favorite.

So is Jennifer Lawrence, from “Silver Linings Playbook.” And “SLP” also has a strong grassroots following. People love it. They mention it the way they talked about “Argo” six weeks ago. And “Silver Linings” is still rolling out. One famous director of smart comedies told me at Paramount: “Silver Linings” will win Best Picture.

We’ll see. “Les Miserables” is a potential powerhouse. Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Eddie Redmayne are huge hits with screening audiences. So is Tom Hooper, and so is Samantha Barks. But Barks only has one song and not much to do, so she may be relegated to “beloved part of movie.”

“Skyfall” comes up in every conversation. Some people have said Judi Dench could be nominated in her swan song as M. I thought she’d have her shot from “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” Since Dame Dench runs no campaign and has no publicist on the case, anything could happen. I think she should be in Best Actress, along with Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, Marion Cotillard, and Emmanuelle Riva.

Back to “Skyfall”: I’d list it at number 10 for the Oscars, the big commercial movie of the year. Let’s say we accept that the top 5 are Argo, Silver Linings, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, and Les Miz. The next 4 could be: Flight, The Master, Best Exotic, Skyfall. And then you have a last spot that could be filled by The Hobbit, Django Unchained, Rust & Bone, or Beasts of the Southern Wild.

These are the titles voters mention when they’re asking, What have you seen? and What did you like?

I have my own supporting favorites this year: Jennifer Ehle in “Zero Dark Thirty.” Scoot McNairy in “Killing them Softly.” Nicole Kidman in “The Paperboy.” Amy Adams in “The Master.” I’m sorry but Robert DeNiro is exceptional in “Silver Linings.”

The Oscars are a ground game. The critics choices will start Monday with the New York Film Critics Circle. And they’re all great, but they won’t mean much in terms of Academy voters. Keep your

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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