The Venice Film Festival is currently underway, but most of the Oscar news this week comes from the Telluride Film Festival, which wrapped just a few days ago. With that in mind, we’re skipping the Oscar prospects of this weekend’s new releases because the film festival news is far more relevant to the award season. Plus the new releases just aren’t worth the time (Oogieloves, anyone?), though Willie Nelson’s Lawless tune “Midnight Run” could score an Original Song nomination.
Speaking of Original Song, that category finally abandoned its point-based system and will utilize a more traditional system for determining its nominees. Additionally, the category once known as Art Direction is now titled Production Design. However, we needn’t dwell on those changes at the moment, as there’s quite a bit of news to cover this week. We’ll discuss Argo and Hyde Park on Hudson in a minute, but let’s first talk about Marion Cotillard. The Academy Award winner got a tribute at the fest, and like most tributes, it’s not only a way to commemorate a dazzling career but also a method of campaigning.
Alongside Matthias Schoenaerts, the actress leads Jacques Audiard’s De rouille et d’os (Rust and Bone), which played at Telluride as part of her tribute. The French-language drama, which is being handled by Sony Pictures Classics, premiered at Cannes and garnered buzz for both stars but particularly for Cotillard. With the raves for her work, the Telluride tribute, and the film’s upcoming slot at the Toronto International Film Festival, is her second nomination finally in the cards? Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter’s The Race thinks it could happen, noting that:
Sony’s specialty division also handles Amour (Love) from Michael Haneke, which brings another potential Actress contender in screen veteran Emmanuelle Riva. Like De rouille et d’os, this drama bowed at Cannes, played at Telluride, and will additionally hit Toronto. Austria just announced that Amour would be its Foreign Language Film submission, and considering that it took the Palme d’Or at Cannes, it shouldn’t have much trouble getting a nod there.
Guy Lodge of In Contention thinks Amour might even get the royal campaign treatment since SPC isn’t exactly loaded with potential Oscar favorites. A combination of perceived weak competition, overdue status for Haneke, and critical raves might put the film in the hunt for top-tier nominations, but can it really happen? It feels like a long shot at the moment, but it’s a weak year for Oscar contenders, so don’t dismiss it.
What about the films that made their debuts at Telluride, though? Many – including me – already pegged Ben Affleck’s thriller Argo, about a real-life undercover operation during the Iranian Revolution, as one to watch coming into the awards season. After its screening at Telluride, though, it’s now a necessity for all Oscar prognostication lists. The Warner Bros.-handled Argo, in which Affleck also stars, kicked off the fest, and the critical notices were glowing. Of course, not just any film can open the fest; as Feinberg notes:
Bryan Cranston’s performance garnered the most sight-unseen buzz of anyone in Argo’s ensemble, but now that it’s been screened, the efforts of Alan Arkin and John Goodman have more attention. The latter additionally stars in assumed contenders Flight and Trouble with the Curve. Goodman also appeared in last year’s Picture winner The Artist and surprise Picture nominee Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It’s clear that the actor’s having something of a renaissance; could he finally make good with an Oscar nomination?
One might ask the same of Affleck. Though he won an Oscar alongside Matt Damon for writing Good Will Hunting, he’s yet to pick up a nod for acting or directing. It’s worth wondering if he might even pull off what Warren Beatty did with Reds by scoring a nomination in Actor and winning Director, as Argo already seems very likely to garner bids in Picture and Adapted Screenplay (Chris Terrio).
Such hopes might be bolstered thanks to his work in Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder, which played at Venice. Mixed response suggests that we don’t have a major contender on our hands, but working with Malick can’t hurt. After all, the auteur’s previous effort, last year’s The Tree of Life, starred Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt, both of whom scored nominations for other projects. The acting branch recognizes and respects performances in Malick’s films – even if voters won’t give much credence to them on their actual Oscar ballots – so Affleck could very well score his first Actor nomination.
Additionally boosting his chances of nomination glory is that Bill Murray probably won’t be in the running for Roger Michell’s Hyde Park on Hudson, which also bowed at Telluride. This dramedy about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once felt like a contender for Picture, Director (Michell), Actor (Murray), Actress (Laura Linney), Supporting Actress (Olivia Colman, Olivia Williams), and Adapted Screenplay (Richard Nelson) bids, but the lukewarm reactions aren’t promising for an Oscar campaign on any level.
Hyde Park will also play at Toronto and at the New York Film Festival, so it might recover, but will distributor Focus Features even give it the necessary campaign? They’ve got the Gus Van Sant-helmed Promised Land (discussed last week) in the cards, and Anna Karenina might gain traction. Based on the classic novel from Leo Tolstoy, Joe Wright’s period drama is playing well with the critics. Karenina will probably fit into the Academy’s wheelhouse more than Hyde Park but still needs an exceptional showing at Toronto later this week to have Oscar prospects beyond Costume Design.
Hitting the Lido was Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, which popped up over the last several weeks at select screenings. It’s played mostly to high praise thus far, and its stint at Venice doesn’t seem to be any different. It seems to be the only Lido player thus far to garner significant Oscar buzz. The period drama, about a drifter and the cult leader that takes him under his wing, is still very much in the hunt for Oscar and might even be the one to beat.
We didn’t even get to discuss the Weinstein Company-backed musical comedy The Sapphires, Ken Burns’ doc The Central Park Five, or the Marilyn Monroe profile Love, Marilyn. All are scheduled to play at Toronto, and with that fest kicking off tomorrow, you can only guess what we’ll talk about next week.