Off the Red Carpet: Week 3 (10/17 – 10/24)

Three weeks have passed since I started this column, we’re 18 weeks away, and I’ve seen yet another two major contenders thanks to the Chicago International Film Festival (I might’ve seen three if not for CIFF’s awful secret screening selection), “The Sessions” and “Silver Linings Playbook.”

“Silver Linings” is exactly the kind of film that could take Best Picture and sweep some of the acting awards if I didn’t think “The Master” could absolutely dominate in the acting branch, and that’s because it’s a crowd pleasing romantic comedy with a lot of depth and poignancy about disabilities. It’s more about disabilities than even “The Sessions,” which just uses its problem as a plot device. If it did, it would probably be the first straight rom-com to win since “Annie Hall.”

But this was a busy week elsewhere, so let’s get down to it.

Joaquin Phoenix calls Oscar season “bullshit,” heads explode amongst people who care about this stuff

Sometimes I’m really disappointed by the media. They have a habit of making a story out of nothing because when one person reports it, everyone else has to spread it around. Joaquin Phoenix said in a terrific interview with Elvis Mitchell for Interview magazine that he thought the whole act of campaigning and comparing people’s performances is “total, utter bullshit.” “It’s a carrot, but it’s the worst tasting carrot I’ve ever tasted in my whole life. I don’t want this carrot.”

That quote alone should give a sense of how batshit crazy and awesome the rest of the interview actually is, but pundits decided to pick out this quote and make a big deal about it, some claiming that he now doesn’t stand a chance at even a nomination.

Well, he’s too good in “The Master” for that. This wouldn’t be the first time someone has put down the Oscars and completely opted out of coming to the ceremony and still won (see: Woody Allen, for one). It’s clear that after two losses (“Gladiator,” “Walk the Line”) he’s tired of the posturing and is seeking a different kind of truth in his performances. So everyone can just calm down. (via Entertainment Weekly and Interview Magazine)

Gotham Award Nominations Announced

The Gotham Awards are significant because they’re the first batch of nominations in this long, long, long awards season. They recognize indie films that would otherwise need a boost amongst the studio fare, and this year they’ve helped put “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” back into the conversation. “Beasts” didn’t score a Best Feature nod, opting instead for the lesser known “The Loneliest Planet” and “Middle of Nowhere,” but director Benh Zeitlin scored a nomination and could make some surprise waves come Oscar time. Also in the fray is Richard Linklater’s “Bernie.” There is a small but vigorous campaign to get Jack Black nominated for an Oscar, and this is his first step in that direction. (via In Contention)

George Clooney could be first to be nominated in six Oscar categories

Guy Lodge of In Contention observed in a case of severe data overload that if “Argo” is nominated for Best Picture, producer George Clooney would be the first person to ever be nominated in six separate categories, Best Picture (“Argo”), Best Adapted Screenplay (“The Ides of March”), Best Director and Original Screenplay (“Good Night, and Good Luck”), Best Actor (“Michael Clayton, “Up in the Air,” “The Descendants”) and the category he won for, Best Supporting Actor (“Syriana”). Does Clooney sing? Maybe we can get him nominated for Best Original Song next year. (via In Contention)

“Holy Motors” and “After Lucia” take top prizes at CIFF

CIFF doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of the awards season, but I was there to enjoy it, and for “Holy Motors” to win its first major prize, along with an acting prize for Denis Lavant, says something. I’ve even heard people making a case for Best Original Song for Kylie Minogue’s cameo. I’ll remind you that I hated the film and appear to be the only person on the planet who thinks this way, but there’s no denying it’s not exactly up the Academy’s alley. “After Lucia” however is Mexico’s entry in the Foreign Film race, so any recognition is always a good thing. (via Hollywood Chicago)

Best Costume Design for “Django Unchained”?

Some pundits seem almost adamant in declaring that Quentin Tarantino’s latest film doesn’t really stand much of a chance this Oscar season, but I came across this interesting blog that says otherwise in one peculiar category: Best Costume Design. “Django’s” period clothing is done by Sharen Davis, nominated twice previously for “Ray” and “Dreamgirls.” The article also points out that Tarantino is responsible for some of the most iconic costumes in recent memory but has nothing to show for it. (via Clothes on Film)

Week 3 Oscar Race

Best Picture

Front Runners

Silver Linings Playbook



Life of Pi

Les Miserables


Moonrise Kingdom


Zero Dark Thirty

Beasts of the Southern Wild


The Master


Long Shots

The Dark Knight Rises

Not Fade Away

Anna Karenina

Django Unchained

The Sessions

Promised Land

The Impossible

The Hobbit

Rust and Bone

Having now seen it, “Silver Linings Playbook” is an absolute lock. “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” are both more on the radar after the Gotham awards, especially since the five nominees are currently lacking that one indie movie slot.


Best Actor

Front Runners

Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln

John Hawkes – The Sessions

Joaquin Phoenix – The Master

Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook

Denzel Washington – Flight


Anthony Hopkins – Hitchcock

Matt Damon – Promised Land

Hugh Jackman – Les Miserables

Jean-Louis Trintignant – Amour

Long Shots

Richard Gere – Arbitrage

Jamie Foxx – Django Unchained

Jake Gyllenhaal – End of Watch

Bill Murray – Hyde Park on Hudson

Jack Black – Bernie

Denis Lavant – Holy Motors

Bradley Cooper and John Hawkes are both terrific in their respected films. For Cooper, this is the best role of his career. Hawkes gets the obvious showy, sympathy vote, but Cooper’s performance is actually the biggest part of “Silver Linings.”


Best Actress

Front Runners

Marion Cotillard – Rust and Bone

Quvenzhane Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild

Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook

Emmanuelle Riva – Amour

Helen Mirren – Hitchcock


Judi Dench – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Keira Knightley – Anna Karenina

Mary Elizabeth Winstead – Smashed

Naomi Watts – The Impossible

Long Shots

Halle Berry – Cloud Atlas

Anne Hathaway – The Dark Knight Rises

Meryl Streep – Hope Springs

Rachel Weisz – The Deep Blue Sea

Jennifer Lawrence is now also a lock, in case it wasn’t obvious.


Best Supporting Actor

Front Runners

Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master

Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln

Alan Arkin – Argo

Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook

John Goodman – Argo/Flight


Jude Law – Anna Karenina

Leonardo DiCaprio – Django Unchained

William H. Macy – The Sessions

Irrfan Kahn – Life of Pi

Jim Broadbent – Cloud Atlas

Long Shots

Chris Tucker – Silver Linings Playbook

Tom Holland – The Impossible

James Gandolfini – Zero Dark Thirty

Aaron Paul – Smashed

Omar Sy – The Intouchables

Dwight Henry – Beasts of the Southern Wild

Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained

Russell Crowe – Les Miserables

Matthew McConnaughey – Magic Mike

Michael Caine – The Dark Knight Rises

Michael Fassbender – Prometheus

Javier Bardem – Skyfall

Robert De Niro is a very likely nominee, as this is the first time he’s really “acted” in about 15 years. I think a very outside contender would be Chris Tucker for “Silver Linings Playbook” as well. The audience cheered just about every time his character showed up on screen, and he’s a lot of fun in the role.


Best Supporting Actress

Front Runners

Amy Adams – The Master

Helen Hunt – The Sessions

Maggie Smith – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Sally Field – Lincoln

Jackie Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook


Judi Dench – Skyfall

Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty

Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables

Long Shots

Frances McDormand – Promised Land

I’m bumping Jackie Weaver into the front runner category because this race is so thin. She doesn’t really have a big part in “Silver Linings” but her only real competition at this point is Judi Dench, who is an Oscar favorite and is getting a huge push for people clamoring for the first Bond acting nod.



Front Runners

Ben Affleck – Argo

David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook

Steven Spielberg – Lincoln

Tom Hooper – Les Miserables

Ang Lee – Life of Pi


Robert Zemeckis – Flight

Paul Thomas Anderson – The Master

Michael Haneke – Amour

Kathryn Bigelow – Zero Dark Thirty

Wes Anderson – Moonrise Kingdom

Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild

Quentin Tarantino – Django Unchained

Gus Van Sant – Promised Land

Long Shots

Juan Antonio Bayona – The Impossible

David Chase – Not Fade Away

Dustin Hoffman – Quartet

Ben Lewin – The Sessions

Joe Wright – Anna Karenina