Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tom O'Neill and Kris Tapley Discuss the Oscar Race

The Envelope's Tom O'Neill interviewed InContention/Red Carpet District's Kris Tapley at the Sweeney Todd premiere last night to discuss the current state of the Best Picture race, and they made some pretty spot-on observations.

I still think that the Academy is going to nominate The Kite Runner, because it is the kind of uplifting, socially relevant prestige film that everyone can get behind and isn't particularly challenging from an artistic standpoint, like say, I'm Not There which I think is a major longshot.

O'Neill seems to think it opened too late, but I don't think that will hinder it much. However, I do think that will hinder There Will Be Blood, which doesn't go into limited release until December 26, and has no wide release date set as of yet. I have rethought my prediction of it being nominated for Best Picture, as I'm starting to get the vibe that it is this year's Children of Men - a critically revered masterpiece that is just too bleak and heady for the Academy. I think No Country for Old Men and Sweeney Todd will probably be all the bleak they can handle in one year.

I agree about Michael Clayton not being a slam dunk. I just don't see it happening, but I could be wrong. And I'm quickly losing faith in American Gangster, which I was never 100% behind in the first place. I just don't see it occupying very many #1 and #2 spots on Academy ballots, which is what it needs to score a nomination. People respect it, but they don't seem to love it. It's not The Departed. Ridley Scott might sneak in the Best Director race though.

So where does that leave us? No Country for Old Men is a solid bet at this point. Ditto Atonement, which is the kind of sweeping period romance that the Academy eats up, and has been pretty much the consensus from the get-go. Sweeney Todd is surging ahead on a wave of strong reviews, as is Juno, which probably has the most momentum right now of any of the contenders, and will fill the Academy's need for a lighthearted film. Call it this year's Little Miss Sunshine, even though Tapley says it is better. So that's 4...who is number 5? I'm going with The Kite Runner. It just seems right...and my gut is telling me that the Academy is going to love it. It has all the right ingredients, the strongest of which is its social relevance which is always attractive to them. I'll be looking forward to hearing reports from the Academy screenings...if it makes them cry, then it's in.

So as of right now, I'm predicting the final five to be Atonement, Juno, The Kite Runner, No Country for Old Men, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

If I were advocating here and not prognosticating I would be shouting Into the Wild from the rooftops. But I'm not. Awards prognosticating is a job for the head and the gut...not the heart. Despite the fact that voters tend to vote from the heart, which is ironic. This job is to get inside the heads and hearts of voters and predict what you think THEY will like the most...not what YOU like the most. A lot of people tend to forget that this time of year. Into the Wild may be the horse I am backing in this year's race, but it just doesn't seem to have the heat right now to carry it into the final 5. I hope I'm wrong...but I'm pretty sure I'm right on that point at least.

We'll see how it fares in the coming weeks as critics groups begin announcing their awards in the lead-up to the Golden Globe announcements on the 13th.

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